Our planet is reaching all time record temperatures and the average rainfall has significantly decreased in many states. Could this be the result of our overworked soil and environment? The agriculture industry is an expansive one that is one of the main causes of climate change. The agriculture of today is responsible for contributing up to 30% of our greenhouse gases in the environment. However, if every agriculturist employed a series of principles, we could drop that percentage down significantly.
Benefits and Principles-
Agroforestry is the practice of growing trees and shrub (native to the area preferred) around a cluster of crops. This simple practice would be easy to employ and offer a variety of benefits other than reducing greenhouse gas. Farming is a very labor and supply intensive act that has the potential to change our climate and deplete the soil of its vital nutrients.
If the soil is depleted of nutrients, the crops that are grown in that particular area will either become diseased, die or lack any nutrients that is essential to human growth.
Agriculture doesn’t have to be hazardous to the health of the Earth. Instead, when used in a proper manner it can be beneficial for everyone and reduce greenhouse gases and CO2! This could compensate for the CO2 that we are producing with our automotive vehicles. Permaculture encourages farming or agriculture to use more natural and earth friendly alternatives compared to the modern inventions today. For instance, instead of fertilizing fields with artificial fertilizer, why not kill two birds with one stone and eliminate animal manure while fertilizing your field naturally?
The UNFA (United Nations Food and Agriculture) has estimated that we have the potential to remove up to 88% of the harmful gases from our environment by utilizing permaculture practices. Permaculture isn’t just for small farms or city lots. Permaculture also benefits larger farms as well. Some benefits may include, decreased water use for crops (improving water availability), improving the soil texture and quality, and improving upon climate change.
Why Farmers and Gardeners Should Employ Permaculture Principles-
Farmers and large commercial agriculture companies will notice several benefits ranging from improving the quality of the climate, not costing a fortune, and offering budget friendly alternatives! Some of the examples include, but are not limited to: Improving soil fertility. The heavy metals and chemical use that is regularly depended on in artificial fertilizers is a shortcut to preparing the soil properly.
Long term effects will include diseased crops, low production rates, and even soil infertility. Soil doesn’t have to be tilled by heavy and noisy machines. A herd of animals could be pastured on the potential growing land to help mix the nutrients into the soil.
This saves on money, energy costs, and also reduces the emissions.
Agroforestry: Trees and vegetation are Earth’s gigantic air filters. They contribute oxygen to our planet and also help reduce harmful carbon dioxide. Planting or retaining the natural plants (other than poisonous weeds), the vegetation naturally encourages moisture retention, microorganisms, and maximizes organic matter. The use of shrubs and trees will also benefit livestock growers by providing ample shelter for their livestock. The trees may also benefit honey bees by providing a shelter or shade from the harsh sun.
City Farming: While dwellers in the city are not fortunate enough to farm or raise livestock to the same extent as their rural neighbors, they can farm on a small scale that is suitable for their backyard. Farming in the city reduces greenhouse emissions by decreasing fuel use to purchase groceries, reduce processing and storage energy waste by preparing the foods at home.
Plus, the garden grown produce tastes better than the grocery produce! Urban agriculture also provides stability anchors to the climate by decreasing landslides and preventing potential life threatening floods. Not only do they decrease the change of natural disasters, but if used correctly, they may also improve the appearance of landscapes.
Green Manure: Cover cropping involves planting smaller beneficial crops and allowing them to grow to full maturity. Once the harvest date is reached, the crops will be tilled into the soil to allow for breakdown. When decomposed into the soil, vital nutrients, repair and increase the soil fertility levels.
The crops don’t have to be tilled (livestock pasturing on these same areas would be more ideal), but they can just be allowed to decompose naturally without any intervention from humans. Farmers who have employed this tactic for their farms have noticed an increase in moisture retention and plants becoming less susceptible to drought caused diseases.
Permaculture in Water Conservation: This can include recycling wastewater and using to water crops with. Some greenhouses have also grown in favor of using direct water techniques by installing drip hoses directly above or in the soil of their crops. This reduces wasted water by ensuring the water is going directly where it was intended to go; to the crops.
Permaculture involves utilizing principles that are beneficial to everyone. They benefit the planet, the climate, the people, and the animals within the climate. By using these principles, our planet has the potential to increase food production and also preserve what we already have.