Op-Ed: Building Resiliency to Climate Change
As Earth Day’s 50th anniversary approaches, we see a complex, changing world ahead of us. Over the past century, we have seen large increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. This buildup of greenhouse gases is changing the Earth's weather and climate and challenging our ability to produce food and fiber.
While this is something we can’t change overnight, we have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to mitigate climate change and increase the resiliency of production agriculture systems while experiencing extreme weather conditions.
Indiana’s farmers and forestland owners are doing their part to help put the nation on track to a healthier and more resilient environment in the face of a changing climate. While agriculture only contributes nine percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, farmers are taking a variety of steps to reduce emissions and cut carbon from the atmosphere and sequester carbon in soils.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is committed to help producers become even better conservation stewards by providing the tools they need to do the job. With an increase in extreme weather events, it’s more difficult for farmers to predict what they’ll be faced with. That’s where NRCS can help.
NRCS offers several conservation practices that increase carbon storage in soil, buffer climate change and provide benefits to landowners by increasing organic matter. The higher the organic matter content, the higher the water holding capacity and water infiltration, which also increases resilience to drought, heavy precipitation and extreme temperatures.
Some practices that help improve soil health are cover crops, crop rotation and reduced tillage or no-till. Soil, pollinators, wildlife, farmers, and consumers can all benefit from these practices. With the addition of these practices, farmers can achieve higher yields, reduce inputs and improve efficiency of nutrient and water use all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Through these practices and many more, NRCS helps farmers increase carbon sequestration and resiliency to extreme weather on millions of acres across the state. Building resiliency to extreme weather helps keep Indiana farmers productive, so we aren’t dependent on others for our food supply.
As experts predict growing climate changes in the United States, NRCS offers a variety of practices, programs and studies that help landowners build resiliency to its effects.We invite you to learn more about the Natural Resources Conservation Service.Talk with your county’s District Conservationist or visit our website www.in.nrcs.usda.gov.