Restore the Ecosystem to Help Reverse Global Warming
The relationship between agriculture and climate change is conflicting to say the least and puts food security at risk. Agriculture is not only a victim but also a contributor to climate change. Climate change has had a significant impact in altering the elements of agro-ecosystems like temperature, rainfall, land and water resources as well as biodiversity. Modern agriculture, on the other hand, has been responsible for about one-third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Excess carbon in the atmosphere causes immense damage to the environment. The rightful place of carbon is in the soil where it supports the abundant growth of life and helps in reversing global warming. Thus, the need for harnessing nature’s power to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere is of paramount importance.
In this blog, we shall explore the impact of intense agriculture practices and the rising need for sustainable farming practices to reverse global warming.
Intensive agricultural practices are endangering the environment
As the world population grows rapidly, the demand for feeding the human population also grows. According to the UN, global food demand is expected to rise by 70% in 2050.
The world leaned towards intensive farming as a solution to maximize yields from available lands to meet the increasing food demands. This method of farming practice produces cheaper food per acre. It uses monoculture, mechanisation systems, large-scale pesticides and chemical fertilisers to produce excessive yields. However, over the last few decades, this has led to the loss of ecosystems, degradation of soil and resulted in alarming levels of global warming.
There has been an emergence of new parasites and a re-emergence of parasites that were controlled. Intensive farming is also one of the reasons for 80% of tropical deforestation. The beneficial insects and plants fall victim to intensive farming. The very soil upon which farming is dependent gets degraded and depleted. Furthermore, the polluted run-off and clogged water system that follow increases the possibility of flooding. Genetic erosion of crops and livestock species has resulted in a decrease in biodiversity. Destruction of natural habitats has been a significant contributor to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The food yield has seen a boost but the disadvantages overweigh its benefits. The world is on the brink of food scarcity in the name of abundance.
Sustainable farming, a step towards reducing global warming
Is there an alternate way of farming to meet this global food demand? The answer lies in sustainable living and farming.
A sustainable agriculture approach encompasses the ability to utilize natural resources without harming the ecosystem. With this approach, a farmer uses biologically integrated ecosystems that relies on the internal cycling of nutrients and energy that helps most agroecosystems to be resilient, adaptive and diverse.
The 3 pillars of sustainable farming are social equity, economic profitability, and environmental health commonly referred to as People, Planet and Profits.
Caring for the soil is the first step towards long-term sustainability. Soil organic matter functions as a crucial source and sink for nutrients, as a substrate for microbial activity, and as a buffer against fluctuations in acidity, water content, and contaminants. It induces a better soil structure, mitigates the increase of atmospheric CO2, improves water penetration and reduces soil and water erosion. Increasing soil organic matter creates healthy soil which produces healthy crops and promotes healthy livestock.
Sustainable agriculture relies on building organic nutrient sources from animal and green manures. Agroecosystems play a crucial role in sustainability. It is built by planting trees or hedges along the field edges or ground covers between rows, thereby providing habitat for insects and birds that prey on the pests, or by planting more diverse blends of crops that confuse or deflect pests. Maintaining a high degree of genetic diversity by conserving as many crop varieties and animal breeds as possible provides more genetic resources for breeding thereby building resistance to diseases and pests. Diversified agriculture integrates livestock and crop production which in turn facilitates recycling of nitrogen and phosphorus, a significant contributor to the future of agricultural sustainability.
Sustainable solutions to combat climate change
Sustainability needs to be part of our daily lives. Adopting sustainable practices for a long-term impact requires a strong knowledge base, technical competence and creating awareness.
Jaivik Farms is dedicated to sustainable farming and development. We believe connecting and collaborating with communities and farmers can create new opportunities. Transitioning to regenerative agriculture for sustainable living is achieved through several farming practices we follow ardently.
Crop rotation and diversity
Our land is our treasure. We nurture our land by adopting crop rotation as one of the most important sustainable practices. Our polyculture farms create greater diversity, preserve soil fertility, promotes a balanced diet, and makes the system more resilient to weather fluctuations. It leads to healthier soil and diverse crops that help reduce dependency on pesticides and germicides. Crop rotation is an economical method for reducing and breaking the cycle of weeds, insects and diseases that attack food crops, thereby reducing or eliminating the farmer’s reliance on chemical pesticides.
Jaivik Farms at Karjat in Maharashtra is a sight to behold. We value the power of growing cover crops and intercropping. At the periphery of our farms, we have native trees and naturalised trees that provide shade and shelter plants, animals, and water resources. Our tree covers create favourable microclimates that help to maintain favourable temperature and soil humidity while protecting crops from wind or heavy rain.
Trees also help stabilize the soil, minimize nutrient runoff and improve soil structure. Decomposing cover crops and animal waste help feed soil life and contribute to stable soil organic matter which improves nutrient cycling. Cover crops also reduce water pollution risks and remove CO2 from the atmosphere. They help the environment and reduce a farm’s carbon footprint. It hosts beneficial organisms, attracts pollinators, scavenges nutrients, and supply forage. These are some of the compelling reasons why we strongly advocate agroforestry practices for areas susceptible to soil erosion and desertification.
Increased tilling practices, in the long run, has done more harm than good. Tilling involves turning over the first 6 – 10 inches of soil before planting new crops. It bares the soil, loosens and removes any plant matter covering the soil making it exposed to sun, wind and water destroying rich organic matter.
With no-till farming, we ensure soil is undisturbed. It acts like a sponge to hold together different soil particles and channels created by roots and soil organisms. When we avoid tilling, we allow crops to grow without disturbing soil arrangements so that it increases the amount of infiltrating water, organic matter retention and nutrient absorption.
Renewable Energy Use
Renewable energy use is crucial for sustainable farming. For our energy requirement, Jaivik Farms has adopted solar power, geothermal heating, and drip irrigation. This not only ensures clean and efficient energy but also saves cost and reduces pollution and depletion of natural resources.
Everyone from a farmer to a researcher, retailer, labourer, consumer, policymaker, and individual can play a role towards creating a sustainable planet. Sustainable farming has the potential to reverse global warming effects on our planet and our lives. From agriculture production to consumption practices, we need to alter our approach to de-commoditize agriculture, save our biome and reduce the negative impact on our environment.
Personal Steps You Can Take to Fight Global Warming
Be sensitive to your surroundings in an accountable manner
Participate in tree plantation programmes & encourage others to follow
Encourage and indulge in terrace gardening wherever possible
Consume organic, seasonal, and local produce
Use & encourage the use of biodegradable materials
Responsible & accountable use of water
The use of energy-efficient alternates like LED Bulbs to effectively reduce the use of fossil fuel and therefore its consequences
Take public transport or car-pool more often
Commit to the Zero Waste – Practice to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle
Power your home, office or farm with renewable energy
Unplug equipment computers, gadgets, phones, TVs when not in use