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How farmers can help combat climate change

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How farmers can help combat climate change

The agricultural industry has arguably one of the biggest impacts on the environment. Farms use a huge amount of natural resources in ways that affect both the land and the atmosphere, and so farmers should be looking toward green practices to help combat climate change.

Global warming affects everyone, but can have dire effects on the farming industry. If you want to help make a difference in combating climate change, read on for advice on how to alter your current and implement eco-friendly practices on your farm.

 

Implement no-till farming

No-till farming is gaining traction in the agricultural community. Soil has the potential to store large amounts of carbon. However, every time soil is turned by a tiller or by hand, it releases significant amounts of that carbon into the atmosphere. Added to this is the damage done to the soil itself, including water retention and soil biodiversity.

No-till farming is ideal for maintaining the soil structure and locking in the carbon which some crops thrive off of. The potential for soil erosion can also be limited by implementing no-till farming, as the rain water can penetrate the soil rather than running off of compacted land caused by machinery. This method also reduces the amount of harmful chemical fertilisers released into the atmosphere.

 

Try water conservation techniques

Agriculture consumes up to 70% of the world’s water, making water conservation a vital aspect of any practising farm. Climate-smart farming encourages utilising water conservation techniques, such as planting a buffer of trees and bushes along streams and rivers to prevent erosion and contamination from crop runoff.

Another water conservation technique is to install a water catchment tank for catching rainwater. This water can be used for watering crops, cleaning machinery and watering livestock in emergencies. If you live on the property, you can utilise grey water when watering crops too, as recycling water is an important step to combating climate change.

 

Plant more trees

Using trees as a buffer to soil erosion has been mentioned above, but trees provide more than this simple function to farmers. Trees provide windbreaks to protect crops, can help with enriching the soil and filtering water as well as soaking up greenhouse gases produced by the farm.

Agricultural expansion has resulted in almost 80% of the world’s deforestation, so it is imperative to make up for this by planting as many trees as possible on your farmland. The conversion from forest to cropland results in a large number of greenhouse gases being emitted, but using climate-conscious farming decreases the need to expand farms and thus cause deforestation. Use trees as decor if you run a public-facing farm, or as an extra safety barrier in a remote area.

 

Cut out chemicals

Getting your hands dirty by manually pulling weeds is nobody’s idea of fun, but doing so will eliminate the need for using harmful chemicals to be rid of weeds. It is better for soil health too, and can help to lower a farm’s greenhouse gases as well as operating costs.

You could also try using the “bad” weeds that you uproot as part of compost for your crops, thus taking away the need for chemical fertiliser. Plant “good” weeds which grow and restore nitrogen to the soil, and you will also have more fertile soil. Due to this, you will not have the need to expand your farm, causing deforestation or soil erosion from soil tilling for new crops.

 

Introduce cover crops

Cover crops are another way for farmers to reduce the amounts of carbon in the air surrounding their farm. Cover crops help to keep the structure of the soil solid, helping to prevent soil erosion during heavy rainy seasons. Planting these cover crops will also result in cutting crop losses, which will aid in improving farm productivity and income as well as the environment.

The cover crops result in spongier soil, which is able to hold more water between planting seasons. This leads to fertile soil, and soil which can absorb more carbon from the atmosphere, helping to eliminate this negative chemical in the air. The carbon will become trapped in the soil, ideal for the plants which need it, and perfect for the humans and animals who do not.

 

Conclusion

Agricultural practices do not have to be harmful to the environment if you implement green farming. Using cover crops, cutting out chemicals and planting more trees are all ways to contribute to the fight against global warming. Water conservation is also an important aspect of eco-friendly farming, so be sure to look into unique water saving methods.  Not only will you be saving the planet, you farm and crops will improve too.

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