This overview of the environmental climate cost of food concludes that current upcoming solutions have the potential to reduce GHG emissions from agriculture by 60%, without a change in consumption. Challenging the perception that abandondment of animal foods is the only way for a sustainable food industry, regenerative farming of livestock is emerging as a key pillar of the food industry's carbon reduction plans, which depend on the restoration of farm land, where food security is most needed
Assuming elimination of 99% of methane emissions from cows, goats and sheep, a 48% reduction in methane reduction from rice cultivation and 55% reduction in emissions from fertiliser production and elimination of net deforestation, 61% of agriculture GHG emissions would be cut. The strengthening of agricultural practices around the world will provide additional food for a growing population with no additional land, and may even restore carbon stocks in depleted soils.
Reducing methanogenesis in cows increases growth rates. Similarly, the revolutionary alternate drying and wetting of rice fields increases yields while reducing methane emissions. Farmers have direct incentives to adopt both quickly.
Beyond changes to agricultural practices in rice cultivation and cattle rearing which offer direct benefits to farmers in terms of production efficiency, more expensive climate friendly fertiliser, biogas-powered tractors and investment in renewable energy for food processing will need to be offset by higher food prices, which highlights the need for communication to consumers.
Organic was long seen as the holy grail of sustainable farming, but with the emergence of climate as the key focus, regenerative agriculture has emerged as an alternative. This includes a focus on sequestering carbon by restoring depleted farmland and by minimising soil disturbance. Regenerative agriculture aims to increase biodiversity and sequester carbon in soil, while achieving high yields.
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