Five climate-friendly methods in agriculture

Greenhouse gases are not only produced by airplanes, but also in agriculture: The agricultural and forestal sector contribute up to 22% to global emissions. At the same time, agriculture plays an important role in combating climate change. This potential must be harnessed: For example, long crop rotations and soil-conserving cultivation methods can sequester more carbon in arable soil. Sustainable agriculture is climate-friendly agriculture. It halts - and can even reverse - the trend of soil erosion, compaction, overfertilization and nutrient imbalances. Diversified farming practices can create more resilient food systems, helping to adapt to climate change.


Climate change has a huge impact on agricultural land productivity, especially in Africa: According to an IPCC projection, land productivity will decrease by 14 to 27% by 2080. The following five management practices can increase agricultural production and contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Animal fodder

Methane and carbon dioxide are among the most harmful greenhouse gases. The cultivation of improved crops used as animal fodder is an important lever: To reduce methane emissions from ruminants, the coarse feed content can be lowered, or certain additives can be mixed into the fodder. In addition, more carbon is sequestered in the soil by growing adapted forage crops, such as grain legumes.

Green manuring

To enrich the soil with nutrients, other plants are grown on the field in addition to the main crops. Plants from the legume family, such as clover species and beans, can fix nitrogen from the air. The extensive root systems loosen the soil and eliminate the need for mechanical tillage. The plant residues left behind increase the organic matter content of the arable land and enrich it with nutrients. Also, green manure crops protect the soil from erosion in winter or restore the productivity of depleted land.

Diversification of cropping systems

Monocultures leach the soil in a short time and lead to a lack of nutrients important for arable plants. Growing a variety of inter crops and undersown crops allows the soil to recover between the main crops and provides nutrients. Grasses, cabbages and legumes, for example, are suitable for this purpose - two varieties can also be combined.  Diversified cropping systems contribute to healthy agroecosystems and are more resilient to climatic shocks. Climate-related risks can also be spread through diversification, an important aspect in securing farmers' livelihoods.

Conservation Agriculture

Highly mechanized tillage, such as plowing, leads to erosion, the release of CO2 and the loss of nutrients and water. Reducing soil erosion is an important strategy to combat climate change and for soil health and food security. The goal is to minimize mechanical soil disturbance. This can be achieved by no-till management and permanent soil cover by main seed and catch crops.


The combination of trees and agriculture holds opportunities for climate and farmers. The soil can be protected against erosion in a sustainable manner, and the biomass input through leaf fall promotes the build-up of humus in the soil. In addition, the trees protect against direct solar radiation and serve as CO2 storage. Particularly attractive for farmers: the sale of plant residue and tree fruits creates an additional source of income.

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