A group of 15 scientists published a paper in CAB Reviews in which they analyze the relative contributions of various farming systems to the global emissions of greenhouse gases, and concluded that the agro-ecological practices, often used in family farming, leading to reduced emissions and increase the resilience to climate change.

According to data from IPCC, globally, agriculture contributes with 10-12% of annual human emissions of greenhouse gases. Other sources suggest that these figures may be even higher, reaching 20%. Although these values are alarming, it is important to point out that, as in the sectors of human activity, emissions are not homogeneous within the sector, existing agricultural practices and models that emit far more greenhouse gases than many others.

A group of 15 scientists, led by Brenda Lin, published a paper in CAB Reviews entitled "Effects of industrial agriculture on climate change mitigation and the potential of small-scale agro-ecological farms," which explores the relative contributions of various farming systems to global emissions of greenhouse gases. In this study, the scientists conclude that industrial agriculture, characterized by intensive monoculture, selective use of only high-yield varieties, reduction of fallow periods, a high degree of mechanization and intensive use of agrochemicals, is responsible for the overwhelming majority emissions compared to ecological agriculture practices widespread in the family farming.

Significant reductions in emissions are achieved in three major areas:

  • reduction in the use and material flows through a careful selection of agroecological farming practices
  • reduction of flows associated with livestock and pasture management
  • emphasis on local food systems (production and consumption) implying a reduction of transport associated with agricultural inputs and marketing of products.

Although the authors recognize that there are still a number of barriers to widespread adoption of various methods of sustainable agriculture, they consider that a policy of incremental incentives may change the priorities in farm management with significant impact in reducing GHG emissions and increasing the resilience of the agricultural sector.

The abstract of the article is available HERE.