As evidence has risen off the lasting environmental damage caused by many widely available garden chemicals, 2020 proved us that we may still have a chance in fighting climate change. The wonderful truth is that sustainable farming– or what some call ethical farming – has become mainstream in a way that few could have imagined at the beginning of this decade.
Allotment sites and flourishing community gardens that foster sustainable food-growing skills have cultivated their roots all around the country. Key permaculture techniques such as composting, mulching and rainwater harvesting once thought niches are now the norm – and who would have thought it?
The Threat to Food Security
Farming is financial-intensive, and farmers are at the mercy of the unstable global commodity markets, regulatory changes, trade disputes, weather pests, and disease, not to include factors like climate change, floods, droughts, and temperature shifts. All these are clear signs that we need to change the way we grow our foods. And here are some of the reasons:
- Climate change will gradually affect farm yields.
- How we farm can help reduce climate change.
- Helping our farmers reveal the full potential of soil will help them meet increasing food demands while remaining profitable
- Restoring the carbon-holding potential can help fight climate change
Organic Water-Extracted Humic Acid® by Humic Harvest, could be a vital tool, in helping to turn around the effects caused by the degradation of soils from unsustainable agriculture along with other development projects.
Soil and Climate Change
The last few years are renowned for being among the hottest on record. As of May 2020, the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has never been so high. Studies have shown that soil removes nearly 25% of the world’s fossil-fuel emissions every year. The process is done through carbon repossession, a natural approach to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the soil with less impact on land and water, lower costs, and less need for energy.
Our soil is somewhat alive – it retains and purifies water while at the same time returns the oxygen to the plants. So we have to show appreciation so it can return the favor by providing us the fuel, fiber, and food we need, all while reducing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Farming With Attention to the Soil
- Carbon-smart farming: We can increase the amounts of carbon in our soil if we choose to adopt the right practice – that means planting cover crops, reducing tillage, and using organic matter such as compost, which has been shown to improve the amount of carbon stored in the soil.
- Decreasing food waste at the farm level: Food-waste is a great source of greenhouse gas emissions, causing 8% of total global emissions. To be more precise, 33.7% of edible produce remains unharvested in fields only to get covered by soil. Moreover, a considerable amount of food waste is credited to the loss in crop production due to diseases – bringing a $200 billion loss per year.
The Greatest Offender Holds the Greatest Solution
People villainize carbon dioxide, thinking of it as the enemy in our fight against climate change. Yet, in doing so, they overlook the essential role it partakes in our ecosystem. Plants require CO2 to photosynthesize, and almost all organisms we know hinge on the energy from this process to survive. Look around you – everything living or once-living – from a celery stalk to a tree branch, to your own body – you’re looking at something that’s storying plenty of carbon. We associate carbon dioxide with climate change because we happened to have more of it than we need in the atmosphere, trapping heat and rising global temperatures.
Currently, agriculture seems to be one of the greatest global emitters of carbon, but carbon-smart farming methods can play a crucial role in slowing atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. As we know, carbon smart farming is a freshly coined term for the method of sustainable farming that emphasizes carbon sequestration – storing large volumes of organic matter and carbon in the soil.
And there are many benefits to perennial agriculture that we tend to overlook – from reducing the runoff and soil corrosion to diversifying agroecosystems from soy rotation and pure corn. However, crop analysts are now focusing progressively on this aspect of specifically sequestering CO like perennial crops – namely trees, plants, and shrubs that need a few years to start flowering and then continue to do so even when the plant dies.
Research has shown that we have more carbon stored in soil than in the atmosphere and all plant life altogether. But carbon smart farming can help us make sure we keep that underground carbon working as a potential climate change mitigation strategy.
Industrial farming approaches tear up and turn over fields every year to seed annual crops; still, we don’t see how these modern approaches are responsible for our climate change struggles. Heavy-duty tillage equipment reaps out the soil, adding oxygen to the mix, which can lead to an extremely rapid release of CO2 in our atmosphere.
But in carbon smart farming methods like perennial agroforest, it’s pretty much impossible not to have an untouched soil system. It has been unearthed from indigenous communities who have practiced and evolved different forms of it for centuries all over the world. They developed traditional knowledge of observation and generations of experimentation. These long-term connections with specific land areas allowed for the development of sophisticated methods of stewarding and managing most effectively – applying knowledge of how to harvest crops in a manner that stimulates regrowth, how organisms and plants interact synergistically, and when and where to seed different plant species.
Agriculture isn’t something we can easily overlook when it comes to climate change. It considerably decreases our footprint and keeps our feed. For this reason, we have to nature and care for our soil so that it can play it partly in our fight against global warming. What does that mean? In the long-term, an investment in our soil is an investment in the health and livelihood of generations to come.