Climate Smart Agriculture Booster (CSA Booster) brings together researchers, practitioners and experts from around the world, fostering and accelerating approaches to agriculture so that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, food production can adapt to climate change and be resilient in the face of climate impact, while at the same time enhancing yields and supporting food security.

Key points

  • Agriculture needs to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate impact and produce more to feed a growing population
  • Livestock farming, energy consumption and chemical fertilisers have the most environmental impact
  • Climate-smart agriculture is an approach to food production that combines technology, investment, capacity-building and policy to address these challenges
  • EIT Climate-KIC’s CSA Booster has a mission to mainstream CSA – through supporting policy and frameworks, business development, capacity building and supply chain development
  • CSA Booster operates in five test regions: the Netherlands, the UK, Italy, France and Switzerland
  • Technologies include risk analysis, smart spatial allocation, specialised water drainage, efficient machinery and feed additives to reduce livestock methane emissions

Project Background and Drivers

Agriculture’s role in climate change is two-fold. On one hand, there is an urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions stemming from the sector, yet at the same time, agriculture needs to be able to cope with the impacts of climate change and have contingency plans when disaster strikes. The twinned challenges of mitigation and adaptation are set against a growing global population, exerting increased demand on the food supply. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates global food production must increase by 60 percent by 2050 to keep pace.

Intensive livestock farming, grazing and depletion of soil, the disruption of the nitrogen cycle through chemical, fossil-fuel based fertilisers and energy consumption, as well as the pressure to convert wetland or forest to agricultural use, driven by rising demand for food, all constitute the agriculture sector’s contribution to the production of global greenhouse gases. It’s the EU’s third-biggest contributor behind transport and energy.

The FAO (2014) estimated that between 2001 and 2010, emissions from crop and livestock added up to the equivalent of five billion metric tonnes of CO2 annually. Emissions accounted for by deforestation averaged at four billion metric tonnes each year over the same period.

Global warming is having an increasing impact on agriculture and the global food supply, too. Agriculture is a highly climate-dependent sector, and the incidence of extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, is set to increase. Shock and disruption to food supply chains can reverberate well beyond the regions in which they occur. The 2010 heatwave that crippled Russia’s wheat output led to a 16 percent rise in the commodity price in Pakistan, which was, in turn, responsible for a 1.6 percent rise in the level of poverty there, according to Oxfam. Increasing temperatures suggest this volatility, which will hurt the incomes of farmers as well as consumers, will only worsen in future.

Climate smart agriculture (CSA) describes an approach to food production that combines technology, investment, capacity-building and policy to address these challenges. It builds resilience into food production systems and reduces the agricultural sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, while promoting productivity and output – sustainably. While there are many technologies and approaches that support

CSA, mainstreaming it requires awareness-raising, knowledge exchange, implementation frameworks and processes. The successful design and implementation of CSA approaches require integration with disaster risk management strategies and actions, and social safety net programmes.

Project Detail

Climate-Smart Agriculture Booster, a flagship programme of EIT Climate-KIC’s Sustainable Land Use theme, has a mission is to accelerate the climate-smart approach to agriculture, developing and promoting CSA technologies across Europe and beyond. It aims to reduce and sequester the equivalent of 10 million metric tonnes of CO2 annually by 2020, implement 20 CSA systems and grow its network to 200 members.

Much of the CSA work is based around helping identify the needs of particular parts of the sector and matching these with an appropriate solution or investment. Technologies and approaches include risk analysis and risk management, resource management optimisation, smart spatial allocation, multiple constraints mitigation, specialised water drainage, efficient machinery and feed additives to reduce livestock methane emissions.

CSA Booster operates in five test regions: the Netherlands, the UK, Italy, France and Switzerland,

working on all aspects of mainstreaming CSA, from impact analysis and verification to policy and frameworks, business development, capacity building and education, and supply chain development. Its main audience includes farmers and cooperatives, large agri-food corporates, technology providers, investors and the public sector.

The Consortium

The programme is driven by leading agricultural and environmental science institutions together with experts in business model development and risk analysis: Wageningen UR (Alterra and Wageningen University) (lead), CNR-IBIMET (Italy), South Pole Group (Switzerland), INRA (France) and the University of Reading (UK).

A wider network of 40 organisations includes major players from the agro-food industry, the agricultural sector, regional authorities, and technology providers. This network helps connects providers and users of CSA solutions to European networks, and it provides science-based quality stamps and certification.

“We want to strengthen this knowledge exchange on an operational level,” says Tilmann Silber, CSA Booster’s finance lead. “Can we find a way to leverage the 5,000-plus experts in our network and get them to work on these projects? That might provide much more value than just a list of solutions.”

The Booster also plans to leverage the expertise of its partners in European policy. The thinking behind this to identify existing national or regional support for any given project and whether or not there are subsidies available to scale up solutions.

While the programme is based in Europe, it is already working with clients whose operations are global. As the projects on the following pages describe, CSA Booster’s impact on climate resilience, sustainable farming practices and emission reduction will be felt far outside Europe’s borders.

EIT Climate-KIC Support

The Climate Smart Agriculture Booster flagship programme was officially launched by EIT Climate-KIC in early 2015. To date, more than 25 of its CSA technologies and approaches are ready to go to market.


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