Climate Friendly Farming. Or Warning, if Farmers Still Ignore the Signs

Agriculture may well be one of the sectors hardest hit by the effects of global warming. Farmers should be looking to incorporate tools and techniques, let alone switch up what crops they grow, to be prepared for the big environmental changes already underway.

It’s been a week since the IPCC (Inter-government Panel on Climate Change) special report on climate change was made public with a grim warning of a massive impact on climate change, in a not so distant date in the future, 2030. Involving the world’s leading climate scientists, the report warned that climate change is building momentum, with not enough efforts to stop it, and it could be too late to reverse it very soon. A point beyond which, if urgent action is not taken to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, we might even cross the point of no return for significant swathes of the earth.

The IPCC report quotes scientists saying, that even a half degree difference in limiting the rise of temperature (1.5-2.0) will have a profound impact. Bringing in, more heat waves for tens of millions of people and a far greater species loss.  Increased water scarcity in some of the world’s most unstable regions, creating an unbearable burden on what is possibly the key driving industry of the planet, Agriculture.

The report needs to be taken very seriously, and major changes are needed to be made right now in the way we approach climate change issues. And one such approach is climate friendly farming.

Agriculture may well be one of the industries hardest hit by the effects of global warming. There are reports that warming-related drought and flooding is already behind tens of billions of dollars in agricultural losses annually. Given this growing threat, more and more farmers should be looking to incorporate tools and techniques, let alone switch up what crops they grow, to be prepared for the big environmental changes already underway.

The Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources (CSANR), as a part of its “The Climate Friendly Farming (CFF) Project,” conducted the most comprehensive scientific assessment to date of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agricultural systems. Identifying promising management strategies and technologies that could reduce the relative GHG contribution of agriculture. These include actions to: reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural systems, restore carbon to soils (coming from the atmosphere), and replace fossil-fuel derived products with biomass derived products. Detailed Report.

According to the study, some of the most promising global warming-friendly farming technologies and practices include conservation tillage (stirring up the soil less), precision agriculture (which employs information technology to monitor crop development, refine soil inputs and optimize growing conditions), improved cropping systems (refining the sequence of which crops follow each other on a given piece of land), and anaerobic digestion of organic wastes (via capturing methane waste and turning it into useable energy). No mention of extra fertilisers, pesticides or worse, you will notice.

Efforts to cut emissions from agriculture so far have been half-hearted. As environmentalists call for stronger policies on agriculture, achieving ‘net zero emissions’ from farming by around 2050 as per the historic Paris Climate Agreement, signed by nearly 200 countries, demands rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors, including food and agriculture. Alongside bolder efforts to maximise the potential of carbon sinks such as woodlands, peatlands and soils.

The positive role of organic farming in tackling climate change and securing a sustainable food system has also been highlighted in a report by the IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movement). And one Indian state, has got it down to the last dot.

Small state with a big success story

Sikkim, the small Himalayan state sharing India’s border with Tibet, was declared fully organic in 2016 after phasing out chemical fertilisers and pesticides and substituting them with sustainable alternatives. Recently (12th Oct, 2018), also being recognised as the world’s first totally organic agriculture state when it beat 51 other nominees from around the world to win, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Future Policy Gold Award.

Sikkim has won the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Future Policy Gold Award for its achievement in becoming the world’s first totally organic agriculture state. The winning citation for the 2018 winner said, “Sikkim is the first organic state in the world. All of its farmland is certified organic. At the same time, Sikkim’s approach reaches beyond organic production and has proven truly transformational for the state and its citizens.”

Nicknamed the “Oscar for best policies”, the award is co-organised with the FAO by The World Future Council (WFC) and IFOAM — Organics International, and recognises “the world’s best laws and policies promoting agroecology”. Setting an excellent example of how other Indian states and countries worldwide can successfully upscale agroecology, as the world comes to terms with climate change.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a correspondent at iamrenew.com and writes on renewable energy and sustainability. As an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he also works as a staff writer for saurenergy.com.

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