The “modern” intensive agricultural system does the climate more harm than good. That’s a fact, no matter how much Big Data or precision farming you throw at it. We need to look outside that system for solutions. In this excerpt from an evidence-based study commissioned by Martin Häusling MEP, Dr Andrea Beste and Dr Anita Idel question the climate potential of precision agriculture and the demonization of cattle, and make the case for grazing animals, organic farming, agroforestry and permaculture.
Below is an excerpt from the study’s introduction, followed by an excerpt from Chapter 2: “Climate Smart Agriculture and Precision Farming – Why Less Bad Isn’t Good”.
The authors would like to state clearly: Agriculture’s purpose is to maintain its ability to produce enough food on planet earth and continue to do so in the future. This will only be possible if the basic resources – soil, watercourses, biodiversity – can be maintained. It is not the purpose of agriculture to “sequester” or compensate for greenhouse gasses released through industrial production. The latter would equate to an irresponsible climate “sale of indulgences”.
Soil management can be climate-damaging if soils emit N2O due to excessive N fertilization or, it can be climate-friendly if humus is built up and thus C is stored. At present the world’s soils store 1,460 billion tons of organic carbon, that is more than twice the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Whether emissions or storage of carbon dominate on agricultural land depends on the type of land use as well as on how and with what dynamic vegetative cover and vegetation are being changed.
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