Climate smart agriculture makes sense (II)

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) entails an integrated approach to managing landscapes – cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries – that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change. CSA aims to achieve (i) increased productivity, (ii) enhanced resilience, and (iii) reduced emissions. CSA is not a one-size-fits-all solution and practices which may be appropriate for a particular farm, area or commodity may differ from another. The scale and extent (financial and otherwise) of a farming operation will also play a role in the type of CSA adopted.

Bearing the above in mind, some examples of CSA include:

  • Energy Management: This includes energy efficient practices, such as using renewable energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security. Energy-saving technologies, such as using energy-efficient lighting and installing renewable energy generation and storage infrastructure could also be considered, where possible.
    • Irrigation and water use: Food production accounts for approximately 70% of global water use. Water is anticipated to become scarcer and water quality may deteriorate. Precision irrigation technologies that reduce water loss and ensure optimal water application, rainwater harvesting, and the utilization of shade nets should also be considered, where possible.
    • Adapted and diversified plants and animals: Plant varieties and animal species that may be adapted to local climatic conditions could be used, for example drought-resistant plant varieties and animals that might be better adapted to heat-stress.
    • Improving and conserving soil: Cover cropping, organic fertilizers, reduced (or zero) tillage of land, intercropping and rotational grazing are methods that may be applied to improve soil health and fertility.
    • Methane management and carbon capturing: Methane from intensive animal rearing is a significant greenhouse gas and one of the agricultural sector’s largest contributors to climate change. Strategies to manage manure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions include using scientifically formulated feeds and selective breeding practices. The planting of cover crops and trees also serve as carbon sinks, i.e. ways in which carbon is removed from the air and stored in the soil.
    • Pro-active biosecurity measures and vaccinations: Applying pro-active and integrated pest management strategies, including the use of natural pesticides and biological control should be considered where appropriate. Vaccination programs and basic biosecurity measures should also be done considering anticipated increases in pests and diseases associated with changing climatic conditions.
    • Disaster readiness and response: The increased likelihood of natural disasters and severe weather events requires sound strategic planning and making sure that appropriate response mechanisms and structures are in place

CSA also includes constant learning and the willingness to implement improved farming methods. Public and private sector led extension and advisory services have a major role to play in this regard.