How carbon-smart farming can feed us and fight climate change at the same time

Credit: Unsplash

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

The last few years have been among the hottest on record. As of May 2020, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2)​​​​​​​ in our atmosphere has been the highest it’s been in human history.

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.

soil climate change
Carbon can act as a natural ‘carbon sink’
Credit: Carbon Central, 2019
Soil is also a method for water retention and purification, and returns oxygen to the atmosphere through plants. A single tablespoon of soil contains billions of microorganisms. In other words, the soil is alive. If care for the soil on our farms it will greatly return the favour by providing us with the fibre, fuel and food we need, all while removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Farming with attention to the soil
Carbon-smart farming: The amount of carbon sequestered in our soils can be increased by adopting the right management practices. Reducing tillage, planting cover crops and using organic matter amendments such as compost have been shown to increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil.
Soil carbon also performs double duty as a resource in ensuring food security. Farmers can harness the power of carbon stored as soil organic matter, which is the fraction of soil composed of anything that once lived, such as decomposed plant and animal matter. Soil organic matter makes farmland more productive, reduces erosion and improves soil structure, which improves the quality of groundwater and surface waters. All of this reduces the negative impact of climate change across the entire ecosystem […]
via How carbon-smart farming can feed us and fight climate change at the same time — The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology – europeansting.com

2 thoughts on “How carbon-smart farming can feed us and fight climate change at the same time

  1. The thing that has brought us closer to nuke war than ever on anniversary of fukushima.
    made by australians because u cant find anything this honest in fascist nuclear covid shithole usa.

    Could have prevented

    Like

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