Climate change harms agriculture. However, today there are several sustainable practices that help the industry adapt to changes, including extreme weather conditions. Agricultural productivity is estimated to decline by 17% over the next 30 years. Farmers need to maintain or even reduce productivity and environmental impact as the world’s population grows. In this article, you can earn about sustainable forest management practices and agricultural methods that help combat the effects of climate change and benefit from farming.
Sustainable forestry provides various environmental benefits, including capturing greenhouse gases and protecting the soil. In addition, this practice can bring the economic benefits of the commercialization of wood and other products. According to a 2018 WRI report, 14 companies are investing in the tree planting business.
Sustainable forestry is not only a good investment, but it also provides a positive adaptation effect. The only exception is the risk of forest fires, as densely planted trees cause the fire to spread quickly. However, planting native tree species for timber production can generate additional income for the farmer. Sustainable forestry also contributes to the adaptation of agricultural land to climate change.
Fossil fuels were formed from plants and animals that have lived for half a billion years ago. Then their remains were transformed into combustible materials, which we use. The formation of the first known type of fossil fuel dates back to the Cambrian period. At the current level of consumption, there is no time for new fossil fuels formulation to meet the energy needs of future generations.
The use of renewable energy is based on taking it from environmental processes. For farms, renewable energy is an essential step towards reducing the impact of agriculture on climate change. Farmers can produce renewable energy sources, including solar panels and wind turbines. In addition, reducing the use of pesticides, mineral fertilizers and minimizing the consumption of fossil fuels in transporting products can also be steps towards eco-friendly agriculture.
The diversity of the agricultural system makes a notable contribution to the adaptation of agriculture to climate change. Integrated systems combine crop production, forestry, and livestock production in various combinations. For farmers, this is an opportunity to produce food and fiber, food, wood, and energy. They can do it simultaneously or in turn. Integrated farming systems contribute to the resilience of farms. Such systems are better protected from extreme weather conditions, soil erosion, and other problems. They enable farmers to increase productivity and profit while addressing the challenges of climate change.
Efficient Irrigation Management
Saving resources is essential for modern agriculture. It is vital to use water more efficiently, especially when it comes to the dry season. Many irrigation systems use groundwater, and pumping systems consume electricity. For example, in California, farms consume enough electricity to power 1.5 billion homes. It turns out that without adequate irrigation, it is impossible to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers looking to take good care of the climate and water consumption can use various methods, including cover crops and drip irrigation.
Agroforestry involves the joint cultivation of crops and trees. Such a system should include plants that will not compete for water and nutrients. Farmers in this way can achieve the productivity of their farm throughout the year and, accordingly, receive income. In addition, it is an essential tool in adapting agriculture to climate change. Agroforestry systems reduce the impact of drought, heat and cold stress, floods, and rain on crops. In addition, the creation of such a system allows attracting pollinating insects and microorganisms that are important for the health of the soil, plants, and the conservation of biodiversity.
Reducing Livestock Methane Emissions
Beef and dairy cattle produce the most noticeable methane emissions, accounting for more than half of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. Manure lagoons are a primary source of water pollution and harmful emissions. Rotational grazing is a type of livestock management that helps to reduce air emissions. For the digestion of cattle, herbs are more beneficial. Simultaneously with better quality feed, the cattle break up manure and soil during grazing, thus fertilizing it.
Rehabilitation of Degraded Pastures
The degradation of pastures is an acute problem of modern agriculture. These lands do not retain water well due to erosion, and the grasses growing on them are less nutritious for animals. Accordingly, the productivity of livestock breeding, where pastures are degraded, decreases.
There are several ways to restore degraded pastures. The traditional solution to this issue is the use of soil fertilizers. However, this practice is the least environmentally friendly. Sustainable pasture restoration methods exist. For example, farmers can plant grasses or trees to avoid soil erosion.
Many modern farming practices help reduce the environmental impact of the industry and increase profits. Integrated systems, agroforestry, pasture restoration, all these methods enable farmers to grow several types of crops and get income from them or engage in livestock and crop production simultaneously, without expanding the territory of their lands. Most of the practices presented also contribute to adapting agriculture to climate change and reducing the impact of weather conditions on plants. All of these factors contribute to improved productivity and resource savings.