How agriculture can support adaptation to climate change through better management of soil
Climate change is disrupting agriculture in every corner of the world, from droughts or floods that damage crops, to rising seas that threaten rural communities. Sustainable intensive agriculture has an important role to play in reducing the effects of rising temperatures. By improving soil fertility, enhancing biodiversity, and creating connected landscapes we can help growers adapt to changing climate conditions.
Responsible management of soil makes agriculture more resilient to the causes and effects of climate change. Soil is a major storage area for carbon in our ecosystem. But when soil is degraded or disturbed, carbon is released back into the atmosphere and becomes a greenhouse gas.
Promoting soil health and fertility with The Good Growth Plan
With The Good Growth Plan, we support commercial activities that promote soil health and fertility, while helping it to reduce, capture and store carbon more effectively. One way to prevent carbon from being released from the soil is through conservation agriculture practices such as minimum soil disturbance, permanent soil cover (e.g. crop residues or cover crops), and crop rotation. Not tilling the soil also prevents the passing of heavy machinery on the field that burn fossil fuels. This means farmers can grow more crops, while keeping carbon in the soil and releasing less fuel emissions in the air.
Heavy rains, floods and drought can all disrupt the physical nature of soil, making it susceptible to runoff and erosion. Our work to improve the biodiversity of farm landscapes, such as the planting of trees and other field margins, helps the soil’s structure be more resilient to the effects of severe weather. As part of The Good Growth Plan, we’ve committed to improve the fertility of 10 million hectares of farmland by 2020 – land about the size of Iceland.
Partnering for solutions to climate change
We’re part of the Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) project led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Our CEO Erik Fyrwald is helping to lead efforts of the CSA within the World Economic Forum to highlight the urgency of climate action among business leaders. Through the CSA, agri-business companies and knowledge partners join forces to accelerate the adaptation of food value chains to climate change and make them more resilient.
These efforts also include our support of the CSA 100 initiative, which brings together 100 leading companies to make science-based and measurable climate smart agriculture commitments to 2030, across three pillars: sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes, adapting and building resilience to climate change and reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions.
We’re also proud to join Race To Zero as we scale up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture. Speaking at the campaign launch in Beijing, our CEO Erik Fyrwald said, “We have joined Race to Zero because it is important for the world and because we see climate change as critical to the future of the planet.” Race to Zero encourages companies to make new commitments to reduce emissions and waste across their operations, particularly in China. Learn how companies like ours are striving to be more sustainable by reducing their carbon footprint at joinracetozero.org.
We’re committed to helping farmers adopt sustainable agricultural practices and technology to mitigate climate change and provide safe, healthy food for the world’s growing population.
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