Climate change remains one of the most critical challenges and threats to humanity. The negative impact of climate change differs by sector. Agriculture remains one of the largest industries facing significant shifts due to increased temperatures, stronger winds, and heavier rainfall. Simultaneously, crop production also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, it’s a two-way relationship between climate change and agriculture.
To stay efficient, modern farmers cannot neglect climate adaptation techniques, which are aimed at increasing productivity while staying sustainable and resilient to constantly changing weather patterns. And that primarily means optimizing the use of natural resources like water and soil. Luckily, modern technology is of great help when it comes to environment preservation. From soil testing to VRA approach, growers have all the tools needed for smarter farming, resulting in higher climate resilience.
Almost in every program or forecast document concerning the prospects and results of agricultural development, climatic and weather conditions are in the first place among the factors affecting the industry. Agricultural producers traditionally attribute the decline in harvest to bad weather, and the increase in yield is explained by the fact that they were lucky with it. That is why climate adaptation is rather a necessity than a choice in modern agriculture.
Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach that helps guide the actions needed to transform and reorient agricultural systems to effectively support development and food security in changing climate conditions. The main objectives of CSA are
- Sustainable increase of productivity and profitability of agriculture
- Adaptation and resilience to climate change (increased drought, pests, diseases and other climate-related risks tolerance)
- Deduction and elimination of greenhouse gas emissions where possible
CSA aims to determine which production systems, support institutions, and policies are best suited to meet the challenges of climate change in specific locations. At the same time, it aims to increase farming productivity and income.
It is important to understand that sustainable development is a process, not an endpoint, and requires the development of technical, managerial, and financial mechanisms, taking into account the needs and contexts at the local level. Applying practices and technologies for sustainable production implies a more holistic vision of the agricultural sector and its relationship with natural resources. Such practices include agroforestry systems, crop-livestock integration, interconnected crop and aquaculture production, created to promote the conservation and smart use of ecosystem services.
NRDC’s Climate Ready Soil Report: Science and Tech
Climate Ready Soil report by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) covered the biggest potential effects of climate change on crop production:
- Increased irrigation need due to warmer temperatures and lower precipitation rates
- Progressive soil erosion due to heavy rainfall and strong winds in some climates
- Increased pest and weed presence due to changes in biodiversity and climatic conditions
How do farmers face these changes without yield losses? Some adaptation techniques include diversifying crops and farm income, modifying seeding times, choosing crops most suited to the local climate, and modifying irrigation systems. However, the most critical factor that ensures resilience to climate change is healthy soil.
The main principles for improving and maintaining soil health are:
- Reduced tillage
- Preservation of living roots in the soil
- Polyculture and crop rotations
- Reduced chemicals use
- Preservation of natural ecosystems
How Technology Compliments Climate Adaptation
Data as the Main Value for Farming
Modern technology like drones, satellites, ground devices, and farming software offer farmers invaluable data on everything that goes on in the fields. This enables smart and fast decision-making on different processes: deciding which seeds to plant and when, what fertilizer to use and where, when to irrigate and how much, etc.
Precise Weather Monitoring
It is no secret that the yield of agricultural crops directly depends on weather conditions, or rather, on the ability to predict them and foresee the needs of plants with maximum accuracy. Here, intelligent monitoring systems – meteorological stations – come in handy for farmers.
The main function that a weather station performs is the accumulation of historical weather data. Since this data will come from the farm’s own weather station installed in the field, and not from the nearest weather station that can sometimes be too far away, this data will have the greatest reliability specifically for the grower and reflect the real weather conditions within the particular field location.
When a weather station is installed on the farm, the grower has access to the following data:
- Air temperature and humidity
- Wind speed and direction
- Amount of solar radiation
- Amount of precipitation
- Soil temperature
- Soil moisture
All of this information enables farmers to plan field activities with the highest possible precision, allowing them to effectively predict and mitigate any weather-related threats, hence increasing climate resilience.
Pests and Diseases Management
Smart farming technologies enable farmers to remotely and time spot an outbreak of any pest or disease in any part of the field. This allows for effective yield loss risk prevention before the whole farm is affected.
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