Farmers are under great pressure to produce, but this doesnt have to be at odds with environmental sustainability.
In South America four million hectares of forest are cut down every year, creating a huge drain on global carbon stores. While climate protection programs are being encouraged, these programs are often at odds with global demands for food, energy crops, and arable land. New research from the German university, Technische Universität München (TUM), however, suggests that investing in diversified land-use projects will not only provide more climate-friendly strategies for farming, but it could also increase long-term yields up to 25 percent.
Researchers at TUM suggest medium-sized plots can be redeveloped from their mono-culture farming practices to using more diverse crop mixtures. This will still allow for intensive farming practices, but will also create interspersed wooded areas that will help protect arable land from soil erosion and provide long-term carbon stores. As these stores are maintained, regular thinning of the interspersed forests will also provide communities with firewood and building materials.
Researchers admit that these diversification projects may have higher costs initially, but they claim the pay-off will be worth it in the long-term. Aside from building a more robust system of agriculture, these projects will allow farmers to diversify their investments to include a broader range of crops. As with any form of investment, diversification will allow farmers to minimize risk and reduce their dependency on market fluctuations.
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