Washington, Jan 21 : A new report has suggested that the negative impact of agriculture on climate change can be mitigated by some adjustments in the sector in future.
According to a report in ENN (Environmental News Network), agriculture, including land-use changes for farming, is responsible for an estimated 17 to 32 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Among the major contributors to the greenhouse emissions within the agricultural sector is the massive overuse of fertilizers.
According to Greenpeace, an environmental activist group, more than half of all fertilizer applied to fields ends up in the atmosphere or local waterways, and each year, the equivalent of 2.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the form of nitrous oxide, a GHG some 300 times more potent, is emitted because of fertilizer use.
Among other factors, methane from livestock is another direct emitter in agriculture. The clearing of forests and other natural cover to create land for grazing and crop production also destroys important "carbon sinks" that absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
But, according to the new report, the sector can move from being a major greenhouse gas emitter to being a carbon sink.
The report calls for more precise application of fertilizer, in appropriate amounts, to reduce excessive GHG emissions and pollution of water resources.
Other recommendations include cutting the global demand for meat to decrease both the amount of methane-producing animals raised and the area of land cleared for them; growing cover crops to help soils be better carbon sinks; and keeping rice paddies dry in the off-season to reduce methane emissions.
A report from Greenpeace also blamed government policies that promote monocultures and discourage local self-sufficiency, putting farmers' livelihoods at greater risk and contributing to climate change.
"Governments must stop subsidizing environmentally destructive practices in agriculture," said Jan van Aken, Greenpeace Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner.
According to van Aken, "As a key contributor to climate change, the environmental impact of industrial farming has reached critical levels."
"Governments must support a farming future that works with nature, not against it," he added.