Farming and climate

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Farming is very much dependent on climatic conditions and is highly exposed to climate change. But farming also contributes to the climate change by releasing greenhouse gases into atmosphere.

Mean monthly precipitation

Climate of a region is the main factor in selection of types of crops, time of sowing and harvesting. The climate, patterns of monsoons and rainfalls differ from region to region. The food preferences and principal crops of a region have also evolved based on the climate.

Tropical regions have heavy rain falls and crops must tolerate water logging. Certain region where the rainfall is scanty, arid-zone agriculture practices have to be followed and suitable crops have to be selected. In places where snow falls occur, the crops have to be grown in a time schedule, so that they be harvested before the onset of snowfall.

Climate change and its effects on farming

There are obvious results of climate change which are now affecting farming activities. The average annual and seasonal rainfall has been decreasing steadily affecting all aspects of farming in many regions. There is a steady increase in heatwaves, droughts, storms and floods across many nations. These frequent extreme conditions will have immediate and cumulative effects as the time passes.

Influence of farming on climate change

Farming affects the delicate global carbon and nitrogen cycles through sequestration and release from plants and soil. Farming also contributes directly or indirectly to greenhouse gas emissions from fuel and fertilizer production and use, soil and waste management. Farming contributes directly to the ecological change by producing two potent greenhouse gases, methane and nitrous oxide. Methane is produced by livestock digestion processes, animal manure and degraded wetlands. Nitrous oxide is released from stored organic manures, like poultry manure and inorganic chemical nitrogen fertilizers.

Farming and climate change mitigation

Most of the nations are seized of the grave problem and working on mitigating the effects of weather change as well as on reducing the contributions from farming. Some of the measures include, modernizing farms and making them energy efficient,
better utilization of farm manure and waste in biofuel and biogas production,
reducing the number of livestock without affecting the milk and meat output by growing more energy efficient livestock,
making best use of available water by crop rotation methods,
adjusting the sowing and harvesting time to changing temperature and rainfall patterns,
developing and using crop varieties more tolerant to heat, drought and waterlogging,
advising, educating, training and informing the farmers of the changing scenario and
providing advisory services and support for adapting the required technology and farming methods.

Climate friendly farming

Weather friendly farming is the latest concept by which apart from climate change mitigation, efforts are to be made to stabilize the climate and environment by farming. Agricultural production is essentially is the process of converting primarily the solar energy into forms of food energy for consumption by humans and livestock. Some of the climate friendly efforts are:
Taking the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequestering it in plant biomass and soils,
reduced and efficient tillage to reduce CO2 release into atmosphere as well as to reduce energy expenditure,
cover cropping to reduce dependence on chemical nitrogen fertilizers,
efficient nitrogen fertilizer and manure use for decreasing N2O emissions,
devising methods and technology to reduce, capture or prevent methane emissions from animals and manure storage,
decreasing the livestock numbers and increasing the livestock production and efficiency,
developing local markets for the produce to cut down long distance transportation and carbon footprint,
on-farm energy production and farm waste utilization to produce biofuels and biogas to replace fossil fuel.
Recovery and recycling of carbon, nutrients and energy from organic wastes can reduce environmental pollutants, restore ecological balances, conserve biodiversity and generate income opportunities.

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Author: Mahmood Syed Faheem
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