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Contributing to the emergence of the sustainable agriculture of the future

The environmental transition, new diets, demands for traceability, demographic growth, the need for protein... All these challenges will determine the future of agriculture at a time when the transition to a circular economy is vital. SUEZ is innovating to provide farmers with global and integrated solutions that will improve the management of the resources.
The issues

Feed one billion more human beings in 2030, while also protecting the environment

Feed the planet
Save water resources
Save energy
Protect soil quality
Recover agricultural waste
Store carbon
Sustainable resource management lies at the heart of the new agricultural models, with the sights always focused on the well-being of populations. Feeding more mouths, while offering a balanced diet for all, and greater respect for the environment requires an agriculture that consumes less energy and water, preserves soil quality more effectively and recovers more of its waste. To meet these challenges, farmers will play a key role in the transition towards circular agriculture.
Our innovations

How technology can work for water resources

The first requirement for food security is the availability of the water resources essential for agricultural production. Agriculture currently accounts for 70% of the water consumed worldwide. The figure is as high as 90% in some countries. While many of them are under increasingly severe water stress, it is now urgent to use water more efficiently in irrigation.

Watering agricultural plants
"Only 20% of the world's land is irrigated. Of this 20%, 80% is flooded, a very inefficient technique. Of the remaining 20%, only 5% uses microtechnology, which enables optimum water use. The total amount of water wasted is enormous. There is huge potential for improvement in this area."

Juan Antonio GuijaroManaging Director of SUEZ Advanced Solutions

Modernising and improving land irrigation

We have developed a smart irrigation technology based on the use of meteorological, cartographic and hydrological data. Expert algorithms enable farmers to optimise their water, energy and fertiliser consumption, while maintaining or increasing production levels.

Using purified wastewater to irrigate land

More rational water resource management, though indispensable, will not be enough on its own to combat water stress, which could affect 40% of the world's population by 2035. It will be necessary to increase wastewater recycling for agricultural use, which currently accounts for only 2% of the wastewater collected.  

We are in the forefront of these developments, recycling 800 million m3 of wastewater every year. We have already reached our target of tripling our capacity to produce alternative water (recycling of wastewater, desalination) by 2030, in order to conserve water resources in the face of the consequences of climate change. Thanks to treatment techniques such as ultraviolet light, reverse osmosis and membrane filtration, we now know how to recycle wastewater with a quality level suited to each use. Ultrafiltration membranes are particularly effective for providing water suitable for the needs of agriculture and industry. Today, only 2% of the wastewater collected is reused.

Develop suburban agriculture by adopting an innovative and global approach

The Lyon conurbation is an undeniably rich region, with almost 10,000 hectares of agricultural land used for different types of farming, from livestock, to market gardening, orchards, cereals and horticulture. But his balance between town and country is under threat from rising demands for irrigation and energy, the scarcity of agricultural land due to urban sprawl and rising transport costs that are detrimental to the growth of local consumption supply chains.

In response to these economic, social and environmental issues, we have developed the innovative suburban agriculture project (API) with our partners, the Rhône chamber of agriculture, the Rhône water syndicate (SMHAR), Blue Line Logistics and Eiffage Energie/Route. This initiative was launched in November 2018 to add new impetus to this agricultural ecosystem, while also addressing the demands for food security and the conservation of local resources.

technologie ressources eau

The initiative has three goals: (1) Responsible water resources management by upgrading the irrigation network for the production or storage of energy and to replenish the water tables. (2) The adaptation of agricultural output to the needs for food of the local population in order to build local distribution channels, increase food self-sufficiency and create bonds between citizen-consumers and farmers. (3) The creation of a last-kilometre supply chain that uses river transport and electric vehicles to reduce atmospheric pollution.
Three suburban areas have been chosen for the pilot phase of the project that is currently under development. The API project eventually aims to cover the entire region. Ultimately, this initiative will give birth to a new, more ecologically responsible and circular agricultural model that promotes local produce and maintains the balance with the urban environment.

Virtuous management of soil fertilisers

Today's food systems consume non-renewable resources and generate non-recycled waste. The development of the circular economy within these systems could improve their efficiency on several levels: economic (saving energy and materials, product recovery etc.), environmental (waste recycling and recovery, reduced groundwater and soil pollution etc.), social (empowering producers, distributors and consumers etc.), nutritional (recycling nutrients from animal waste for use as fertiliser etc.). The circular economy, therefore, is the cornerstone of sustainable agriculture. In particular, this process demands more virtuous controls of fertilisers.
Seedlings in compost
"Today, fertilisers, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, are made from non-renewable resources in mines and plants that transform the nitrogen in the atmosphere. We offer farmers recycled fertilisers produced by the circular economy.”

Laurent GaltierOrganic Activity Manager, Innovation, Marketing and Industrial Performance

Recovering the phosphorous in wastewater for use in agriculture

Our Phosphogreen process recovers phosphorus from wastewater for use as a fertiliser. This is fundamental to preserve phosphate reserves, which are heading for exhaustion and constantly increasing in price. 20% of today's global demand for phosphorus could be fulfilled by recovering it from wastewater.


Developing enriched soil conditioners that meet farmers’ needs

As far as soil conditioners are concerned, returning organic matter to the soil is the best way of protecting soil quality in the long term, while reducing the use of chemical additives. 

Our SUEZ Organique subsidiary has set up the TERRIAL joint venture with the Avril group to form a player in the forefront of the fertiliser and organic soil conditioner market in France. 

This partnership is addressing a number of issues: how to better understand the needs of farmers and agricultural cooperatives, or how to develop the value of composts with a broader range of organic soil conditioners? It is essential to cooperate with the world of agriculture to improve soils with organic matter in the long term, while also tightening up the traceability of spreading operations.

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Converting agricultural waste into energy

In addition to composting, anaerobic digestion offers another means of recovering agricultural waste.
A renewable and local energy.
straw
"We are stepping up our work with farmers to offer input for their methanation plants and to find outlets for the recovery of their by-products, such as cereal residue, maize cane, etc. in our own methanation plants."

Anne-Valérie GoulardCEO of SUEZ Organique

Organix: a unique digital marketplace

We have developed the Organix digital marketplace to enable producers of organic waste – including farmers – to contact users and methanation plant operators, who transform the waste into energy. Organix deals with a variety of flows – grape seeds, withdrawn or out-of-date food products etc. Waste producers (agricultural cooperatives, food and pharmaceutical manufacturers) can market their waste using a bidding system.
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