Harnessing soil as a potent weapon against climate change
Published: January 28, 2020
Category: Regenerative Agriculture, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
Farmers are a group who engage with climate impacts most directly—and floods in the Midwest in 2019, California droughts, and East Coast hurricanes have hit rural and agricultural sectors hard, along with already tight profit margins and trade disruptions.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sees agriculture not only as a victim of climate change but a potential agent for lessening it, by focusing on the foundational element: soil. NRDC’s five key strategies for climate-friendly farming include:
- Cover cropping – increasing the 7 percent of farmers using cover crops. State initiatives in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are working to subsidize crop insurance by donating $5 per acre off their insurance bill. Cover cropping, no till, and compost reduce need for synthetic fertilizers that emit greenhouse gases.
- Supporting carbon as an “agricultural product”: paying farmers to sequester carbon in the soil. The USDA just granted $13 million for the Soil Health Demonstration Trial, providing a new, reliable income stream for growers.
- Scaling up regenerative agriculture – by reducing chemical inputs, rotating crops and livestock, incorporating compost, and agroforestry to improve soil health.
- Supporting organic farming initiatives, such as the Organic Farm-to-School program, to build healthier soil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Reducing food waste (generator of 3 percent of anthropogenic emissions in U.S.) though clarifying food labels, working to reduce urban waste and rescue food, and increase composting. Composting recycles organic nutrients rather than sending them to the landfill.
Source: National Resources Defense Council
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