Agricultural future passes from sustainable waste management

Regarding waste management, this is a fundamental step for the future of world agriculture

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Agricultural future passes from sustainable waste management

Agriculture has a huge environmental footprint and plays a significant role in causing climate change, water scarcity, soil degradation, deforestation and other processes. The development of sustainable food systems contributes to the sustainability of the human population.

There is therefore talk of sustainable agriculture, also from a social and economic point of view. Socially sustainable agriculture is the ability of world agri-food production to meet global demand. Sustainable agriculture has the objective of guaranteeing people's health, improving the quality of life of producers, safeguarding human rights and promoting social equity.

Economically sustainable agriculture is an agriculture capable of promoting fair trade. Regarding waste management, this is a fundamental step for the future of world agriculture. The Agricultural waste management strategies for environmental sustainability study, published on the Environmental research, told: "Globally, abundant agricultural wastes (AWs) are being generated each day to fulfil the increasing demands of the fast-growing population.

The limited and/or improper management of the same has created an urgent need to devise strategies for their timely utilization and valorisation, for agricultural sustainability and human-food and health security. The AWs are generated from different sources including crop residue, agro-industries, livestock, and aquaculture.

The main component of the crop residue and agro-industrial waste is cellulose, (the most abundant biopolymer), followed by lignin and hemicellulose (lignocellulosic biomass). The AWs and their processing are a global issue since its vast majority is currently burned or buried in soil, causing pollution of air, water and global warming.

Traditionally, some crop residues have been used in combustion, animal fodder, roof thatching, composting, soil mulching, matchsticks and paper production. But, lignocellulosic biomass can also serve as a sustainable source of biofuel (biodiesel, bioethanol, biogas, biohydrogen) and bioenergy in order to mitigate the fossil fuel shortage and climate change issues.

Thus, valorisation of lignocellulosic residues has the potential to influence the bioeconomy by producing value-added products including biofertilizers, bio-bricks, bio-coal, bio-plastics, paper, biofuels, industrial enzymes, organic acids etc.

This review encompasses circular bioeconomy based various AW management strategies, which involve 'reduction', 'reusing' and 'recycling' of AWs to boost sustainable agriculture and minimise environmental pollution."