Animal husbandry can play a key role in climate change

by the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture

Animal husbandry can play a key role in climate change

A rancher in the district of Lushoto, in the Tanga region of Tanzania, owns a cultivated Brachiaria grass that can increase soil carbon. Found: CIAT / Georgina Smith

Jacobo Arango, an environmental activist in the Tropical Forages Program at the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT and author of the mitigation chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released on April 4, 2022, said. The evidence suggests that some countries will fulfill their promises, however, the world is not on track to meet 1.5-degree warming.

“Agriculture and land use (i.e. forestry) are a real motivator with this IPCC report,” he said. “It’s not enough to just lower emissions, we need to move more carbon out of the atmosphere.”

While the popular idea of ​​carbon capture and conservation is to introduce carbon dioxide gas into the soil, Arango says it is possible for plants to take deep roots, including materials used in animal feed, can store carbon 2-3 meters below the soil surface as soil organic matter (soil carbon). .

“If you use the right plants, with a long root system, they can convert carbon from the air into deep soil layers,” he said, “Instead of fancy machines Many people take carbon from the air and put it in rock formations. water and biodiversity.

Arango explained that plants often absorb carbon in shallow soil layers (the first 30 centimeters). However, it is easier for this carbon to return to the air through the process of soil respiration, while soil carbon deposited deep by the long roots has more time to be stored for a long time.

Ngonidzashe Chirinda, an assistant professor of Sustainable Tropical Agriculture at Morocco’s Mohammed VI Polytechnic University and a former IPCC author, said the 30-centimeter depth used in the IPCC gas treatment guidelines would lower the risk. taking carbon mixed with tropical forages that grow roots over 1 meter. deep.

“Fewer countries are contributing to the reduction in climate change in their greenhouse gas inventories and the lack of counting is a thing of the past. No carbon dioxide, “Chirinda said, adding that countries need to accurately report the carbon added to the soil through mitigation measures .such as the removal of processed foods (grasses). and other plants grown for food for animals).

Tropical food is like carbon dioxide

In addition to its role with the IPCC, Arango’s work with the Alliance is studying tropical forages, some of which have long roots that deposit carbon meters beneath the soil.

In a study in the Orinoquía basin of Colombia, his team was able to test soil carbon below 30 centimeters and determined that soil carbon was accumulating there.

The authors of the study suggested that the incorporation of tropical B. humidicola grasses improved soil carbon collection and improved farm soil quality probably due to the size of its system. and his search.

Arango said that the key to cultivating future varieties with deep roots and preserving the seeds is the genetic makeup that is stored in the plant. new Future Seeds genebank at CIAT’s headquarters outside Palmira, Colombia, home to about 68,000 regular seedlings. , vegetables and sweet potatoes, vegetables are a major source of food and income for millions of small farmers around the world.

“We’re researching different ways with those long roots that play a role in transporting carbon to those deep soil layers, which can continue to work for farmers,” Arango said, adding. integration if possible for farmers in Colombia and other parts of the world. provided with better nutrition, they can eliminate the carbon produced by their cattle.

“If we have other options to make livestock production systems net-zero or poor at emissions, they can buy carbon credits, opening up a new source of funding for these farmers by entering the global carbon market. “

Chirinda explained that there are many other aspects of farming that can increase carbon emissions or reduce carbon loss.

There is agroforestry (growing plants and trees on the same land), silvopastoral systems (with trees on grasslands), reduced or no land cultivation (to prevent disturbance). of soil), and the soil is covered most of the year by processes such as relay and cover cover. , “said Chirinda.


Burning our natural environment can help reduce our carbon footprint


More information:
Sixth Report, Climate Change 2022: Reducing Climate Change, www.ipcc.ch/working-group/wg3/

Presented by The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture

Directions: Livestock growers can key to climate change (2022, April 11) Retrieved 11 April 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-04-livestock-key -climate-mitigation.html

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