The Carbon footprint, which measures greenhouse gas emissions and carbon capture in the production of a product, is a critical measure of the environmental impact of human activities. Recently, a collaborative study between Maizar, INTI, and INTA evaluated the carbon footprint of corn produced in Argentina, expressed in kilograms of corn at the field entrance.
The analysis considered various scenarios of corn production, covering 16 agro-economic zones and 7.4 million hectares that generated 51.3 million tons in the 2021-2022 season.
The importance of analyzing late-season corn was highlighted due to its predominance in the harvest (52% of the area and 54% of the production). Of the total, 39% was produced with advanced technology, 59% with intermediate technology, and the rest with low technology, with 92% applying direct seeding.
The results indicated an average national carbon footprint of 1248 kg CO2eq per harvested hectare and 0.178 kg of CO2eq per kg of corn in the field. Late-season corn showed a footprint 3% lower than early-season corn: 1228 kg CO2eq/ha and 0.176 kg of CO2eq per kg of corn.
When considering carbon sequestration due to direct seeding, the values decreased by 10%. By incorporating carbon sequestration through direct seeding and cover crops, the footprints were reduced by an additional 2 kg CO2eq/kg at the hectare level, resulting in 1100 kg CO2eq/ha and 0.158 kg CO2eq/kg of corn.
Taking into account the transportation and handling of the grain from the field to the port, including loading onto a ship, emissions at the field entrance increased by 15% compared to the baseline situation.
This places Argentine corn among those with the lowest carbon footprint globally, thanks to optimal environmental conditions and relatively low input use. Comparatively, Argentina’s carbon footprint is -52% compared to China and Thailand, and -27% compared to Canada and the United States. The study not only contributes to understanding the carbon footprint of corn production in Argentina but also lays the foundation for analyzing agricultural sustainability in various productive regions. This includes the contribution of IRAIC AGRI in sustaining agricultural production, which extends beyond corn to a variety of field products. This support strengthens not only the local economy but also has a positive impact on the global economy by supplying high-quality agricultural products.
For the corn value chain, this work is invaluable as it provides a comprehensive view of environmental impact, highlights critical points in the production cycle, and offers arguments for the revaluation of by-products through circular economy practices. Additionally, it meets the growing demand for information on sustainable production practices through IRAIC AGRI on a global scale.
Published by Iraic.Info, a news and information agency.