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Integrating Agriculture and Climate Mitigation


Carbon farming involves the implementation of regenerative agricultural practices aimed at restoring ecosystem health, improving agricultural productivity, and mitigating climate change. It combines the fundamental role of carbon in various life processes with farming practices to enhance carbon storage in agricultural landscapes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Carbon Farming Overview:
  1. Challenges to Carbon Farming:
  2. Opportunities for Carbon Farming in India:

Carbon Farming Overview:

  • Definition: Carbon farming encompasses agricultural practices designed to store carbon in soil, plant material, wood, and leaves with the aim of mitigating climate change by reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases.
  • Goal: The primary objective of carbon farming is to sequester carbon, thereby mitigating climate change impacts.
Implementation of Carbon Farming:
  • Rotational Grazing: A basic carbon farming practice involving controlled grazing patterns to promote soil health and carbon storage.
  • Agroforestry: Incorporating trees and shrubs into agricultural landscapes to diversify farm income and sequester carbon in woody biomass.
  • Conservation Agriculture: Techniques like zero tillage, crop rotation, and cover cropping minimize soil disturbance and enhance organic content, thereby sequestering carbon.
  • Integrated Nutrient Management: Utilizing organic fertilizers and compost to promote soil fertility while reducing emissions.
  • Agro-ecology: Employing crop diversification and intercropping methods to enhance ecosystem resilience and carbon sequestration.
  • Livestock Management: Strategies like rotational grazing and optimizing feed quality help reduce methane emissions and increase carbon storage in pasture lands.
Carbon Farming Schemes Worldwide:
  • Voluntary Carbon Markets: Countries like the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Canada have established voluntary carbon markets to incentivize carbon mitigation activities in agriculture.
  • Initiatives: Programs like the Chicago Climate Exchange and Australia’s Carbon Farming Initiative promote carbon sequestration practices in agriculture.
  • ‘4 per 1000’ Initiative: Launched during COP21 in 2015, this initiative emphasizes the role of carbon sinks, including agricultural soils, in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. It highlights the importance of managing the remaining carbon budget wisely to address climate change challenges.

Challenges to Carbon Farming:

  • Effectiveness Variation: Carbon farming’s efficacy is influenced by factors like geographical location, soil type, water availability, biodiversity, and farm size, among others.
  • Land Management Practices: Success depends on proper land management, adequate policy support, and community engagement.
  • Regional Suitability: Regions with abundant rainfall and fertile soil may have high carbon sequestration potential, while arid areas face challenges due to limited water availability.
  • Species Selection: Not all plant species sequester carbon equally effectively, requiring careful selection for optimal results.
  • Financial Assistance: Implementation costs can be prohibitive, particularly for small-scale farmers who may lack resources for sustainable practices.

Opportunities for Carbon Farming in India:

  • Economic Benefits: Agro-ecological practices could yield significant economic returns, with estimates suggesting substantial value generation and payments to farmers for climate services.
  • Geographical Suitability: Regions like the Indo-Gangetic plains and the Deccan Plateau offer extensive arable land suitable for carbon farming.
  • Incentive Mechanisms: Carbon credit systems can incentivize farmers by providing additional income through environmental services.
  • Climate Mitigation Potential: Agricultural soils in India have the capacity to absorb billions of tonnes of CO2 annually, contributing to climate change mitigation and enhancing food security.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024