An acre of farmland produces 66 times less greenhouse gases (GHG) than an acre of developed land says a recent report on New York farms completed by the American Farmland Trust. If you haven’t thought about the ecosystem services that farms and ranches provide, that statistic alone suggests that we need to protect more agricultural land and work to educate the people owning and managing that land in the importance of regenerative agriculture for mitigating climate change.
Given all the bad press that agriculture gets for being such a greenhouse gas contributor, this study provides more information about how agricultural land is vital to addressing the multiple issues we are facing as climate conditions change.
Of course, the more that farmers and ranchers do to sequester more carbon in their soils through regenerative agricultural practices, the greater the ecosystem benefits will be. Practices such as holistic planned grazing, cover crops, no- or reduced-tillage, crop rotations, perennial crops and amendments that feed soil life like compost or compost tea.
In New York alone, if the annual loss of farmland to real estate development were gradually reduced 80%, by 2050, 130,000 acres would be kept in farming, which is roughly the equivalent of removing more than 1 million cars from the road. Given that the study focused on GHG caused by manure, fertilizer, and methane gas, then the effect that regeneratively managed land could mitigate climate change is even greater as studies have shown an over 30% increase in soil carbon sequestration on lands practicing holistic planned grazing. Another study shows that pastures can sequester the methane created by cattle if the cattle are grazed properly.
So what can you do?
- Shop locally at farm stands or grocery stores that sell locally-grown, regenerative food. Check out HMI’s Community Map for someone practicing Holistic Management near you.
- Educate yourself about how regenerative agriculture is a viable climate mitigation strategy
- Work with local policy makers to recognize agriculture and agricultural lands as critical factors in capturing GHG in the soil.
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