‘Land sparing’ or ‘land sharing’? More intensive agriculture better helps farmers fight climate change

Farmers face a growing dilemma …. How do you feed …. people without harming the environment? [G]rowing as much food as possible in a small area may be our best bet for sustainably feeding the [world] ….

Farmers who wish to minimize their carbon footprint have traditionally held two philosophies, says David Williams, the lead author of a paper published [recently] in the journal Current Biology.

“[L]and-sharing,” involves maximizing the amount of carbon stored on farmland. “[P]lanting trees in a field, or maintaining little patches of non-crop habitat on your farm,” explains Williams.

But land-sharing has a cost.

“You almost certainly lower your agricultural yields,” says Williams ….

The other philosophy for agricultural carbon mitigation called “land sparing” maximizes the per-acre yield without worrying about carbon storage.

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Since yields are higher, less land is needed to produce the same amount of food …. uncultivated land can then be preserved as natural habitat.

Williams …. wanted to know which strategy was best for storing carbon …. [his team] measured the amount of carbon stored in farms and natural areas from three agricultural regions in Mexico, Ghana, and Poland.

“We found that the least damaging strategy was the land-sparing strategy,” says Williams.

Read full, original article: Which Vision Of Farming Is Better For The Planet?

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