This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum. Author: Poornima Parameswaran, Co-founder and VP of Science Technology and Innovation, Trace Genomics
- Soil is one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change.
- Soil is an efficient carbon sink.
- Switching to carbon-smart farming will help us meet food demands and combat climate change.
Farmers are the stewards of our planet’s precious soil, one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change. Because of its massive potential to store carbon and foundational role in growing our food supply, soil makes farming a solution for both climate change and food security.
The threat to food security
Farming is capital-intensive and farmers are at the mercy of volatile global commodity markets, trade disputes, regulatory changes, weather, pests, and disease. Factor in climate change and you can include droughts, floods and temperature shifts.
We need to change how we grow our food because:
- climate change will increasingly impact farm yields
- how we farm can help mitigate climate change
- helping our farmers unlock the full potential of soil will help them meet growing food demands while remaining profitable
- restoring the carbon-holding potential of our soil combats climate change.
Soil and climate change
Studies show that soil removes about 25% of the world’s fossil-fuel emissions each year. This is done through carbon sequestration, a natural way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere through the soil with fewer impacts on land and water, less need for energy, and lower costs.
Soil can take in more CO2 from the atmosphere than it releases, making it a carbon sink. The carbon sink capacity of the world’s agricultural and degraded soils is 50 to 66% of what it has been historically. This means our soil can hold 42 to 78 gigatonnes more carbon. Increasing the amount of carbon in soil also makes it more productive for farmers.