Published On: Wed, Aug 30th, 2017

How Farming Is Changing To Become More Environmentally Sustainable

Currently, around a third of the world’s total land area is dedicated to farming. But farming, according to experts, isn’t always the most environmentally-friendly practice. It leads to water shortages, pollution and greenhouse gas emission. Now though, there is pressure both from consumers and governments for the industry to clean up its ways and become more sustainable. This is how agriculture is changing.

 

  1. Protecting The Soil

Soil erosion is a major problem for the world’s farmers and one that they need to solve quickly if they want a viable industry. According to estimates by environmentalists, an area the size of Costa Rica is lost every year to soil erosion, something which if it continues, could seriously harm agriculture in the long run.

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In response, farmers are investigating new methods to keep healthy, fertile soil i place. The sustainable farming movement recommends that farmers use no-till techniques. This is something that farmers in Canada are doing already and have seen a 86 percent drop in soil erosion.

 

  1. Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Many people don’t realize it, but farming is one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters on the planet. Estimates from the UN suggest that agriculture produces more greenhouses gases than all global transport systems combined. Thus, it’s farmers, not motorists, who really control the direction of the planet’s health.

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Research suggests that a combination of no-till farming methods and herbicide resistant crops could help. Both of these methods help carbon to remain sequestered in the ground, preventing it from rising up into the atmosphere. According to CropLife.com, these methods help to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 28 billion kilos, the same as taking over 12 million cars off the road.

 

  1. Reduced Water Consumption

Food production currently places an enormous burden on the world’s freshwater supply. Many sources of freshwater, like the Aral Sea, are effectively drying up, making many communities unsustainable.

The good news, according to gpp-co.com, is that this trend might be coming to an end. Companies are developing products which act as water-conserving agents which interact with the soil’s natural capillaries to keep it moist for longer. Estimates suggest that these products should be able to reduce water usage on crops by more than 30 to 50 percent, a significant reduction below current levels.

 

  1. Reduced Farmland Expansion

It’s becoming clear than expanding farmland outwards is no longer feasible. Fertile, virgin lands are rare to come by, and expanding into marginal lands is expensive and bad for the environment.

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Farmers, therefore, need to cram more crops into the fields they already have. Although GMO crops are seen as an enemy by some, the data suggest that they have been instrumental in reducing total arable land area. According to statistics, if GMOs hadn’t been used, around 5 million extra hectares would be required to farm soybeans, 7 million more hectares for corn and another 3 million for cotton.

In short, biotech innovations have allowed more than 130 million hectares to remain wild that would have otherwise been farmed.

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