龙8娱乐app下载报道Climate Smart Agriculture: Championing Newer, More Sustainable Practices_龙8娱乐app下载官网资讯

Climate Change

The effects of climate change on agriculture will be profound. Here鈥檚 how two very different farmers are learning to cope.

Farmers feed the world. We need them to now and will even more in the future. Our ever-growing world population is projected to hit 10 billion by 2050, and agricultural production must somehow keep pace.

But many farmers across the world are already struggling, thanks to the unprecedented frequency of dramatic weather events, rising temperatures, droughts, flooding, and other outcomes of climate change. Ironically, we are biting the hand that feeds us: agriculture is also responsible for somewhere between 19 and 29 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions (the exact number is very difficult to pin down). How can we produce even more food while minimizing farming鈥檚 environmental impact?

Many farmers are taking matters into their own hands, practicing more-sustainable, climate-smart ways of growing their crops and livestock. Of course, farmers alone鈥攅ven those with the most-powerful ties to their land and the most-sustainable, well-managed farming practices鈥攃annot reverse the effects of climate change. But the methods they use can enable them to survive and thrive鈥攖o grow better, healthier food while they mitigate some of the damage from climate change. In doing so, these farmers are helping create the future of agriculture and helping to mend the planet for later generations.

Measuring the impact

There is no one way in which climate change affects all farming regions and the myriad crops grown across the globe鈥攋ust as there is no single action that can solve this incredibly complex problem. In some areas of the world, rising sea levels, traumatic weather events, and warmer temperatures are undermining farmers鈥 ability to feed their families, let alone to make a viable living. In other places, however, the effects are more subtle. There are even regions, such as parts of northern Europe, where increased temperatures are actually improving crop yields, at least in the short term. There is no question, however, that the net effect of climate change worldwide is to diminish our ability to grow food.

The impact of climate change on our food supply is already quantifiable. A recent study from the University of Minnesota鈥檚 Institute on the Environment analyzed weather and crop data from 20,000 growing regions around the world between 1974 and 2008. The conclusion: changes in temperature and precipitation have already reduced consumable food overall by about 1 percent for the top ten crops (maize, rice, wheat, soybean, palm oil, sugarcane, barley, rapeseed/canola, cassava, and sorghum). While that may not sound like much, it amounts to enough calories鈥35 trillion annually鈥攖o feed more than 50 million people. Sadly, these decreases in production are most profound in the regions that are most food insecure鈥攖he very areas least able to tolerate the losses.

Greenhouse-gas emissions are contributing to changes that ultimately cause decreases in crop yields. As these yields diminish and demand increases, farmers in some regions are carving more farmland out of forests and other open lands鈥攚hich in turn further contributes to global warming. Between 1990 and 2016, the world lost 502,000 square miles (1.3 million square kilometers) of forest, according to the World Bank.

Looking forward

A closer look at individual crops in specific regions tells a story that may help some areas. Climate change is reducing wheat yields by 0.9 percent each year but is increasing yields of drought-tolerant sorghum by 0.7鈥0.9 percent. Growing alternative crops like sorghum that can thrive in changed conditions may be one way of helping regions that are hit hardest by changed weather patterns.

Regardless of their region, the crops they grow, and how profoundly their changing climate currently does or does not affect their yields, farmers across the world are beginning to share an unwillingness to sit back and passively let climate change happen. In some areas, farmers have simply had to change the way they farm in order to survive. Even in regions where they are not currently experiencing climate change-related losses, many farmers are already doing what they can to protect the earth around them.

Farmers across the world are beginning to share an unwillingness to sit back and passively let climate change happen.

Help from the prairies

Climate Change

For farmers in the prairie region of Canada鈥攌nown as Canada鈥檚 Breadbasket鈥攖he changing climate is both a blessing and a curse. The benefit to the province of Saskatchewan, which produces 28 percent of Canada鈥檚 grain and more than half of its wheat, is a聽longer growing season, thanks to winters that are already聽3.1掳C warmer. The milder, shorter winters enable farmers to now grow additional crops, including corn, soy, and pulses.

While that sounds like great news, scientists predict the area will also suffer more-frequent聽droughts and flooding, which are bad enough on their own鈥攂ut also lead to more weeds and pests.聽Climate models project聽drier summer growing seasons and too much water in the spring when farmers are seeding.

Clinton Monchuk, a third-generation farmer in the prairie region and executive director of Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan, is heavily invested in both the present and the future of his land. His farming practices address the three key goals of climate-smart agriculture, according to the World Bank: enhanced resilience, increased crop yields, and reduced emissions.

聽The prairies are now and have always been subject to extreme variability in weather. In addition to rainfall and temperature, which are of concern to farmers everywhere, wind on the prairies, which causes soil erosion, is also a major issue. 鈥淲e used to literally watch the land blowing away,鈥 says Monchuk.

聽To become more resilient, Monchuk changed to minimal tillage. 鈥淚t used to be that we鈥檇 get significant wind erosion when we鈥檇 till,鈥 says聽Monchuk. Drought made that worse and left no moisture in the soil in which the plants could germinate. Changing to minimal tillage made a big difference. 鈥淲e used to have 4- to 5-inch-deep topsoil, but we鈥檙e at about 12 inches now,鈥 he says聽proudly, 鈥渁nd the soil moisture doesn鈥檛 evaporate.鈥 That increased soil depth is not only good for farming; it also has a positive effect on the earth鈥檚 future: as the UN鈥檚 Food and Agriculture Organization notes, the deeper, richer soil is sequestering more carbon, which can help mitigate the effects of climate change.

聽Rotating crops also helps the soil store more carbon; each crop adds its own biomass to the soil, and the varied biomass helps it retain more carbon. A long-term study from the University of Illinois confirmed that crop rotation can both increase yield and lower greenhouse-gas emissions. The study showed that over the course of 20 years, corn grown in rotation with soybeans yielded 20 percent more鈥攁nd reduced nitrous oxide emissions by nearly 35 percent. It is also well documented that crop rotation and cover crops can help manage pests and improve soil health. Monchuk grows canola, wheat, barley, and several other crops.

聽He can grow more crops in part because his farm is less vulnerable to the weather. He seeds and fertilizes together, and says, 鈥淲e don鈥檛 touch the soil.鈥 That keeps the soil more insulated and moist, 鈥渟o we can grow crops with less rainfall.鈥

聽While climate change may be increasing the temperature on the prairies, they are still quite cold. Last year, Monchuk saw frost every month except July. Yet his production per acre is higher than at any other time in the past 20 years. 鈥淲e鈥檝e reduced our cost of inputs, because we aren鈥檛 double seeding anymore. But our yield is up,鈥 he says, hitting another World Bank goal for climate-smart agriculture, 鈥渂ecause of improved genetics and better technology.鈥 Monchuk credits both GPS and improved seed genetics for helping him cut down on his use of fertilizer and crop-protection products.

Better technology

Climate Change

鈥淲e aren鈥檛 double seeding anymore. But our yield is up because of improved genetics and better technology.鈥澛鈥擟linton Monchuk, Saskatchewan, Canada

The farming practices contributing to improved yields also help him reduce his carbon emissions. 鈥淲ith minimal tillage, I鈥檓 not pulling up as much dirt,鈥 says Monchuk, which means his tractor burns less diesel fuel. 鈥淭he other thing is that we鈥檙e only running the tractor over the soil once, versus three to five times.鈥 Cutting back on his fuel use helps him control costs and reduce emissions: a win for his profitability and a win for the earth.


Compared with those in some other regions, the聽effects of climate change are聽relatively聽subtle聽and manageable聽in the Canadian prairies. On the other side of the world and the other end of the climate-change spectrum,聽Vietnam聽is already experiencing drought, increased temperatures, rising sea levels,聽river聽flooding, and more-intense weather events, according to the World Bank.聽With Vietnam鈥檚 varied landscape and range of crops, the specific impacts of climate change can vary greatly from one region聽of the country聽to another.

Multiple climate challenges

Climate Change

Vietnam is already experiencing聽drought, increased temperatures, rising sea levels, river flooding, and more-intense weather events.

Farmers in Vietnam鈥檚 Central Highlands grow mostly coffee and black pepper鈥攁 lot of it. Vietnam is the聽second-largest coffee producing-country聽(after Brazil) and the聽world鈥檚 leading producer of black pepper.

Farmer Vo Ngoc Dung grows both in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. His high-quality black pepper caught the attention of Ethan Frisch, owner of Burlap & Barrel, a U.S.-based spice importer whose products are revered by both Michelin-starred chefs and home cooks.

But it hasn鈥檛 been easy. Prolonged drought in Vietnam has been killing the trees and leaving the black-pepper marketplace in turmoil for a number of years. After a surge in the spice鈥檚 popularity and prices, cultivation greatly expanded鈥攊ncluding into land not well suited to growing pepper. This put additional environmental stress on areas already hit hard by climate change (including high rainfall early in the season followed by drought) and caused prices to plummet. While overall exports from Vietnam increased, revenue declined by nearly one-third.

In an聽interview with聽Viet Nam News,聽Nguyen Nam Hai, chair of the Viet Nam Pepper Association, said that in order to succeed, the industry had to focus on growing a higher-quality product through more-sustainable practices. That was precisely Dung鈥檚 intention when he moved back to his parents鈥 farm after attending university. 鈥淚 realized the environment was seriously devastated, and the food was dirty, so I wanted to change these things. I love my hometown and I wanted it to be better,鈥 said Dung.

Perhaps the most important thing Dung did was enlist the aid of an army of trees. The trees he planted help retain the groundwater, which reduces the amount of water he needs for the crops. 鈥淚 rely on how natural forests work for agriculture. The forest helps keep the water and air cool.鈥

Dung plants muong den trees, which he says the French have planted on coffee plantations for more than 100 years, as part of his multilayered cultivation. The trees provide nutrition for the soil, shield crops from the wind, and regulate the humidity. 鈥淲e use them as work machines,鈥 says Dung. They help him experience few of the ill effects of climate change. His land is kept moist by the naturally thick organic layers created by his forest. 鈥淚t is full of insects and microorganisms that live and support each other, and keep diseases away from my plants.鈥 He says his products taste better because the watering system provided by the forest allows their inherent natural flavors to develop.

Farming for the future

Farming for the future

For as long as humankind has grown food, farmers have been acutely aware of and sensitive to changes in weather and the health of the land they steward. Today, no industry has felt the impact of climate change more than agriculture. Farmers, whose lives and livelihoods are deeply vested in the well-being of the land, are uniquely positioned to be an integral part of the solution.

Monchuk and Dung, despite the vast differences in their local climates, the crops they grow, and the approaches they take, share one crucial trait: they are farming to nourish humans and nurture the earth. As more farmers engage in climate-smart agriculture, we can dare to dream of a world full of farms that protect earth鈥檚 natural resources while providing clean, healthy food.

Further reading

鈥淧lace Matters: An Investigation of Farmers鈥 Attachment to Their Land.鈥 Courtney E. Quinn and Angela C. Halfacre. Human Ecology Review, Volume 20, Number 2, 2014. http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/p291621/pdf/ch062.pdf

鈥淕lobal Warming May Benefit Some Farmers.鈥 Lise Brix. (Science Nordic, 2014). https://sciencenordic.com/agriculture-denmark-drought/global-warming-may-benefit-some-farmers/1412163

鈥淐limate Change Has Likely Already Affected Global Food Production.鈥 D.K. Ray et al. (PLoS ONE 14[5], 2019). https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0217148&type=printable

鈥淒eforestation Explained.鈥 Christina Nunez. (National Geographic, 2019). https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/#close

鈥淐limate Change is Affecting Crop Yields and Reducing Global Food Supplies.鈥 Deepak Ray. (Cornell Alliance for Science, 2019). https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2019/07/climate-change-affecting-crop-yields-reducing-global-food-supplies/

鈥淐limate-Smart Agriculture.鈥 (World Bank, 2019).


鈥淲hat Is Soil Carbon Sequestration?鈥 (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2019). http://www.fao.org/soils-portal/soil-management/soil-carbon-sequestration/en/

鈥淟ong-Term Study Shows Crop Rotation Decreases Greenhouse Gas Emissions.鈥 Press release (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2019). https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-05/uoic-lss052318.php

鈥淐limate Risk Country Profile鈥擵ietnam.鈥 Alex Chapman et al. (World Bank, 2018). https://climateknowledgeportal.worldbank.org/sites/default/files/2019-01/15077-VietnamCountryProfile.pdf

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