Food production doesn’t have to be a victim of climate change. New research from Michigan State University suggests that crop yields and the global food supply chain can be preserved by harnessing the critical, and often overlooked, partner in food supply – soil.
The research, led by MSU Foundation Professor Bruno Basso and published in Agriculture and Environmental Letters, is the first of its kind to provide critical insight to the importance of soil in managing risks associated with climate change.
“The long-term sustainability of agricultural systems strongly depends on how we use soil,” Basso said. “This research proves that with the application of innovation through better soil management, we’re one step closer to preserving our food supply and mitigating the effect that climate change and global warming has on our lives.”
By learning how to scientifically harness, protect and improve soil’s health, Basso’s findings prove that crop yields can continue at current production levels or even improve – especially if coupled with adaptive farming practices.
“Up until now, research hasn’t accounted for what soil gives back to the cycle of climate change, and it is arguably the most critical resource to adapt to mitigate its effects,” Basso said. “Ultimately, soil is the ‘home’ of the plants. If we aren’t caring for the soil, plants and crops are unsheltered and left to deal with climate change on their own.”
Basso’s research was part of the Agricultural Model Intercomparing and Improvement Project, or AgMIP, a global initiative linking climate, crop and economic modeling communities to assess the fate of food production under climate change.
Basso spearheaded AgMIP’s soil initiative and proposed that moving forward, soil be positioned as the center of the food production cycle.
“We went into the project knowing that with climate getting hotter, crop yields are forecasted to be lower. If the yield goes down, it also means that the amount of carbon that is returned to soil also goes down, so the question we had was: ‘If this cycle continues, where do we end up, and what role will soil have? And, will we be worse off if we don’t look after soil?’ So we ran crop and soil models to simulate the impact of weather on a crop yield and soil organic carbon to evaluate the feedbacks from soil to climate change,” Basso said.
Basso executed a series of models in Tanzania, Brazil, Argentina, the Netherlands, France, the United States and Australia to test soil’s reactions to changes in temperature and carbon dioxide levels by analyzing soil organic carbon and nitrogen levels.
What the researchers found was that carbon dioxide compensated for the climate-caused yield losses because it acted as a natural fertilizer to help the crops grow. But when soil organic carbon losses were included in the analysis, the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was not sufficient to prevent yield losses.
“So, through agronomic management, which is ‘doing the right thing at the right time for your crops,’ soil quality and health can be improved.” Basso said.
Basso explained how farmers can practice better agronomic management to protect soil against the effects of climate change. This should include the use of cover crops, conservation tillage, adding organic carbon to soil or by increasing yields through advanced genetics and agronomy.
The forward-thinking approach to crop management — and our global food supply — is largely grounded at the root of plants’ life cycle in the soil they’re planted.
“The approach of accounting for soil’s feedback needs to become a rule when we use crop models when we want to identify adaptation strategies,” Basso said. “The soil that we’ll deal with in 2050 is surely to be different than it is now, so recognizing how to manage it today — along with adaptation strategies for tomorrow — is critical.”
The Latest on: Soil management
via Google News
The Latest on: Soil management
- New partnership in Dakotas digs into data of soil health on December 16, 2018 at 12:00 am
... farmers gain insights about their soil health characteristics and how using conservation tillage systems, cover crops or precision nutrient management can benefit their operation, Rabenhorst ... […]
- Researchers awarded £1.8 million to transform our understanding of soil carbon storage and loss on December 13, 2018 at 9:42 am
The world's soils hold around twice the amount of carbon that is found in the atmosphere and in vegetation, yet the loss of carbon from this important reservoir is an escalating global threat caused b... […]
- SCN Coalition recommends using soil test results to develop a management strategy on December 12, 2018 at 6:32 am
The SCN Coalition encourages soybean farmers who “took the test to beat the pest” this fall to develop a soybean cyst nematode management strategy for the 2019 growing season. “Now that you’re armed w... […]
- call for solution to soil pollution on December 10, 2018 at 4:00 pm
there is a worldwide increase in degradation of soil resources due to inappropriate management practices, population pressure driving unsustainable intensification of soil and land use, and inadequate ... […]
- Staying Climate-Smart: Coordination Meeting on Enhancing Crop Nutrition and Soil and Water Management in Africa Held in Vienna on December 10, 2018 at 8:07 am
Counterparts and representatives of 16 IAEA African Member States gathered at the Agency’s Vienna headquarters from 8 to 12 October 2018 to discuss the work plan to implement climate-smart agricultura... […]
- Jan. 22: ‘Management Matters for Soil Health’ workshop on December 10, 2018 at 5:00 am
“Management Matters for Soil Health,” a workshop designed for farmers and interested residents in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, will be presented by Washington State University Extension, 7:4... […]
- Increased soil contamination puts food security at risk on December 7, 2018 at 4:53 am
"Human activities are the main source of soil pollution. It is in our hands to adopt sustainable soil management practices," she added. She called "for greater political support and significantly incr... […]
- Russia’s PhosAgro donates $1.2 million to improve sustainable soil management in Africa, Latin America and the Near East on December 5, 2018 at 4:33 pm
5 December 2018, Rome - PhosAgro, Russia's leading phosphate-based fertiliser producer, today signed an agreement with FAO to donate $1.2 million to improve farmers' skills in sustainable soil ... […]
- World Soil Day today, it’s not looking great on December 5, 2018 at 5:50 am
“Human activities are the main source of soil pollution. It is in our hands to adopt sustainable soil management practices,” she added. She called “for greater political support and significantly incr... […]
via Bing News