In 2015 agriculture accounted for 10% of GHG emissions in Portugal, a 5% decrease from 1990. The decrease in emissions was due to the decreased importance of this sector in the national economy. Mainly due to technical decisions like, the reduced production of some categories of livestock, the extensification of livestock and the decrease in the use of fertilizers. Enteric fermentation, agricultural soils and manure management are the three main sources of emissions from agriculture.
The LULUCF sector (Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry) has been a net sink of emissions in Portugal between the years of 1992 through 2004, with the exception of 2003. A tendency to increase net sequestration has been registered over time. The main contributors to increased sequestration were the sinks in forest and other areas and the reduction in emissions from agricultural crops and pastures.
The agricultural transition in Portugal from one heavily dependent on public funding for income, production and founded on a chemical/mechanical technological intensification model, towards one which is economically viable, environmentally sustainable and carbon neutral implies:
• creative initiatives in agricultural policy;
• technologic changes and changes in agricultural practices.
Among the technological and agronomic practices with the greatest relevance in regard to the future of carbon neutrality, it is important to emphasize the following:
• greater efficiency in the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and phytopharmaceutical products, as well as, their elimination when compatible with the economic viability of agriculture;
• a progressive elimination of open-air burning of waste from temporary and permanent crops. Ideally by incorporating them into the soil or using them in the production of bioenergy;
• a widespread increase in the practices of minimum tillage and direct seeding on irrigated and non-irrigated land used for cereal crops;
• greater efficiency in the use of water for irrigation;
• an increase in the areas occupied by biodiverse grazing lands;
• progress and development in manure management systems by reducing ponds and replacing these with more carbon neutral methods.
As far as initiatives in forestry with the greatest relevance in the transition toward carbon neutrality, the following are highlighted:
• land-based organizational and financial aspects in general and investment in new crops using sustainable forestry management;
• policies to prevent and combat forest fires by improving the effectiveness of current methods on the one hand, and prevention measures based on a more adequate management of fuel loads and better management of rural areas, on the other.