By Janan Lenzy, NFU Intern

The Paris Climate Agreement was constructed within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December of 2015. Adopted by consensus, the agreement aims to maintain “a global temperature rise” of less than 2 degrees Celsius or 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improving resilience to the impacts of climate change this upcoming century, starting in 2020. A recent article in Scientific Reports suggests that farmers can contribute significantly to these objectives by implementing land management practices that enhance soil health and carbon sequestration.

As stated in a previous Climate Column post, practicing rotational grazing is one method that promotes sequestration of carbon in soils. Alternating grazing pastures alleviates stress on plant species’ reproduction and growth. This helps maintain land cover in pastures and decreases soil erosion, which ultimately increases soil organic matter and carbon stocks. The Scientific Reports article reiterates these positive impacts of rotational grazing as well as discusses other methods such as conservation tillage, mulching, fertility management, and cover cropping that can be utilized to reap similar results.

The atmosphere isn’t the only beneficiary of soil carbon sequestration. Increasing soil organic components improves soil tilth, increases infiltration and aeration, and improve overall soil health. In return, these benefits position farmers to better adapt to climate changes that require soils to be more stable to limit negative effects on production.

If the aforementioned management strategies are implemented and maintained on agricultural lands, farmers could assist in attaining the Paris Agreement goal by contributing up to 6% of the reduction emissions needed. The article also states that the U.S. has the potential to lead other countries globally in storing the greatest amount of carbon in soils.

Have you recently adopted these management practices? How have they improved productivity on your farm? Do you have any other suggestions for increasing soil carbon sequestration? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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