Betty Farmer Charlie
Can Farming Be Really Sustainable?
When thinking about sustainability and net zero, the agricultural sector immediately comes to mind. The crucial impact of farming activities on the environment is widely recognised; besides, we should think about how climate change affects agriculture and food production too.
In Future of Food. Shaping a Climate-Smart Global Food System (World Food Bank, 2015) the inextricable connections between farming, climate change and human intervention are explored. Solutions to make agriculture sustainable in the light of the predicted increase in demand for food production over the next decades are also considered. As the President of the World Food Bank Jim Yong Kim stresses in the foreword, ‘We must have a greater push to support widespread adoption of climate-smart agriculture in efforts to secure the triple win of higher agricultural productivity, increased resilience to climate change, and lower greenhouse gas emissions.’
What could be done, then, to achieve this ambitious triple objective? Several solutions can be adopted, each of them addressing one or more of the challenges mentioned above. The research suggests that investing in soil management techniques could restore the capacity of soils to trap carbon. In fact, “Agriculture [. . .] has the biophysical potential to offset and sequester about 20 percent of total annual emissions”. Regrettably, our soils released those emission in the past century because of degradation and inefficient farming practice. If we restore carbon to the soil, it will ‘sequester carbon from the atmosphere’, also helping with food and land productivity, water retention, and producing economic benefits for farmers.
In addition to that, more attention should be paid to agricultural practices like intercropping, crop rotation, pasture and cultivated land rotation, diversification and agroforestry. Other smart techniques to improve sustainability and regenerative farming include the selection of crops that could use less water and produce fewer emissions, sensible tillage, improved irrigation and water management. Last, but not least, producing biogas from agricultural or manure waste, or processing overproduction to obtain secondary products can solve the crucial issue of farming waste.
Industrialised economies have particular responsibilities for developing technological and practical solutions that could be applied everywhere, including emerging and developing countries where poverty and lack of infrastructure are especially present.
This study highlights that ‘Investment in agricultural research needs to increase dramatically to mobilize science for climate-smart agricultural practices benefitting smallholder farmers.’ We feel that we are playing our part in promoting sustainability and better food production due to the high percentage of time we devote to research, testing and development, the investment of our resources and efforts to develop Farmer Charlie, the ongoing discussion of innovative solutions with farmers, agronomists, and business partners.
Implementing Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is a mission we are all involved in, for the benefit of our planet and of the future generations.