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.
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 tillage where the use of our herbicides allows farmers to halt weed growth without unnecessarily tilling the soil. 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.
We’re also part of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), an initiative led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). 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.