Representative Subtheme Challenge:

CCS-02: Climate-Smart Food and Agriculture

Imagine a transformed landscape of rice paddies, once a significant source of methane and nitrous oxide emissions, now exemplars of sustainable agriculture. Advanced biotechnologies and precision farming have revolutionized rice production. New rice varieties, engineered for resilience, thrive in alternating wet and dry cycles, effectively reducing methane emissions traditionally associated with constant flooding. Alongside, innovative slow-release fertilizers provide plant nutrition, while minimizing nitrous oxide release. This agricultural shift preserves environmental health and at the same time bolsters global food security, especially for parts of the world where rice is a staple crop. This scenario symbolizes a bioeconomy triumph, where responsible innovation in rice cultivation harmonizes the dual goals of environmental stewardship and feeding a growing population, turning what was once an ecological challenge into a sustainable, economically beneficial reality.

Food and agriculture are significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, yet they also hold the key to creating climate solutions. Innovations in crop engineering can foster climate resilience and adaptability, enhance soil health, and reduce soil erosion. Addressing the proximity of bioenergy feedstock fields to biorefineries is crucial for aligning supply chain logistics with product demand. This approach is necessary to support a sustainable agricultural system that effectively tackles climate change challenges.

CASA-Bio stakeholders representing government, industry, and non-profit sectors, identified areas of mutual interest where concerted effort among them may lead more quickly to the realization of the envisioned future. These are a few of their ideas. Key research areas include developing climate-smart feedstocks, engineering climate-resilient crops, and enhancing soil microbiomes for climate resilience. Focus should also include reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving nitrogen use efficiency in agriculture. Research is needed to advance precision agriculture and circular solutions, to breed crops for efficient water and nutrient use, and to engineer crops for increased soil carbon sequestration. Addressing these R&D needs is critical for transforming agricultural practices to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. We emphasize that this list is not comprehensive; we need you to help us think deeper within this subtheme!

As a member of the R&D community, you too are a CASA-Bio stakeholder, and providing your insight on R&D projects that undergird this sub-theme and lead to solutions is critical. Your ideas will matter! Your individual project ideas and those developed as part of the collaborative Town Hall process will be combined to produce an aggregate view. This view will help us understand not only the interests of the R&D community, but also what they are willing to do to advance the bioeconomy. Topics among the R&D project ideas we receive will help government, industry, and non-profit stakeholders see the potential of the US R&D community to address critical future needs and help define topics for future exploration through workshops and roadmapping.

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CASA-Bio is based upon work supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Contract No. 49100423P0058. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. National Science Foundation.
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