Ditya Lamichhaney

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Published On: April 3, 2018 09:56 AM NPT By: Ditya Lamichhaney

Carbon farming to tackle climate change

Carbon farming to tackle climate change

The earth, home to about 8.7 million different species of living creatures and provider of factors such as air, water and soil that keep these species alive, is under crisis. 

Mother earth is witnessing the impacts of climate change such as increasing global temperature, rising sea levels, changing precipitation, destruction of rainforests, and expansion of deserts in the subtropics. Factors such as ozone layer depletion and global warming have raise serious concerns for the survival of many species in the planet. 

The growing avoidance of human beings to preserve nature has been a serious issue. Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants and greenhouse gases collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounced off the earth’s surface. These pollutants, which can last for years in atmosphere, trap the heat and cause the planet to get hotter. The phenomenon is known as greenhouse effect. 

The scientific consensus on climatic changes related to global warming is that the average temperature of earth has risen between 0.4 and 0.8 ˚C over past 100 years. The environmental, economic, and health consequences are likely to occur if this trend continues. Therefore, it is important to put an end to this. 

Soil, among the life sustaining resources, is the connector of all our lives. One solution for climate change lies under the ground where we stand. It is possible to keep the carbon back where it belongs. Soil scientists, researchers, and land restorers are studying soil and carbon cycle as a biological solution to climate change.

Carbon farming is an approach of regenerative agriculture. It helps in repairing and regenerating the ecosystem as a biological solution to the problem of climate change. It uses different tools of farming and management practices that captures the carbon from atmosphere and sends them to the farm soil. It adds multiple benefits to farm soil, enhances farm productivity, improves water holding capacity of the soil, increases profitability, and combats climate change. 

Carbon-smart farming goes way beyond sustainability as sustaining is not enough to mitigate food insecurity where one third population of the world is still starving. Each year, trees grow and they suck in huge amounts of carbon dioxide that is used for the process of photosynthesis in production of sugars. The sugars are supplied down through the plant roots into the soil where they get picked up by living organisms (microbes, bacteria etc). They undergo biological composting under the ground. This process builds stable molecules like humic acid and folic acid which remain in the soil for long period of time. Humic acid in simple terms can be measured in percentage organic matter (percentage O.M.) which is the most secure long-term carbon storage in soil. The pathway of this farming is transfer of carbon from atmosphere. If the concentration of carbon in atmosphere exceeds 350 parts per million (ppm), it is dangerous. But in soil, it is stored as organic matter having multiple benefits. 

Carbon farming also uses a tool called restoration agriculture for ultimate carbon storage which takes the dead and degraded landscape (used for cultivation of annual crops) through high use of fertilizers and pesticides and erosions. It transforms them into perennial woody agriculture landscape. This farming also promotes the concept of living soil through the use of compost in small and large scale farming like use of aerated compost tea.  

In present world, climate change is a global concern. It significantly affects the humans, including threats to food security from decreasing crop yields and desertion of populated areas due to rising sea levels. Carbon farming is agriculture’s response to climate change. It is the collection of many approaches that helps in building and stabilizing organic matter in soil through restoration of carbon. It uses the farming methods that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and captures and holds carbon in vegetation and soils. Carbon farming can be considered the simplest, most cost effective and environmentally beneficial way to mitigate climate change right under our feet.
 Lamichhaney is studying BSc Agriculture at Himalayan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (HICAST) at Kalanki in Kathmandu.

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