Foodprints for the Future

Reducing farming emissions with regenerative agriculture

A recent piece in the World Economic Forum highlights the increasing threat that current agricultural practices, including agricultural production and modifications to landscapes, have on land-use emission goals set by the Paris Agreement.

Researchers found that developing countries in Latin America, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have experienced the greatest surge in land-use change emissions in order to keep up with population expansion. On the other hand, developed countries in North America, Europe and Oceania have shown negative land-use change emissions, but large-scale farming in these regions remains a major contributor to pollution, rising emissions and environmental degradation. In the United States, for example, experts predict that due to soil being lost 10 times faster than it can be replenished, there may be fewer than 60 harvests remaining for agriculture and food production.

Steve Davis, a member of the University of California, Irvine’s Solutions that Scale program, vocalizes his concern about the negative impacts land-use has on greenhouse gas emissions. “Even if we get emissions down to European levels worldwide, with expected population growth, we could still be looking at more than 5 gigatons of land-use emissions per year in 2100, an amount at odds with ambitious international climate goals unless offset by negative emissions,” he says.

Countries can lessen the intensity of farming emissions by adopting regenerative agriculture practices including efficient tilling and harvesting methods, cover cropping, managed grazing and composting. Regenerative farming is one of the most effective solutions for farmers to reverse climate change and to promote food security by rebuilding organic carbon, restoring soil, increasing soil biodiversity and reducing atmospheric carbon. Regenerative agriculture also provides direct benefits to farmers due to its ability to increase crop yield and produce high-quality, nutrient rich crops that drive food production, create healthy communities and boost farmers’ incomes.

To kick off 2021, EARTHDAY.ORG launched the Regenerative Agriculture campaign to combat agricultural degradation and promote sustainable farming techniques for the benefit of our environment. Test your knowledge with the regenerative agriculture quiz and support our work by becoming a member.  Earth day isn’t just a day — it’s a movement.