Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach to managing landscapes—cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries—that addresses the interlinked challenges of food security and accelerating climate change.
The effects of climate change can be mitigated using climate smart agriculture. This could include developing new resistant varieties which are tolerant to heat, salinity and resistant to floods and drought, improving water management, soil conservation and with the use of new agricultural technologies to increase resource conservation and effective management techniques.
The goals of CSA approaches are to help guide actions to transform agri-food systems towards green and climate resilient practices.
Soil health is at the heart of the new Green Deal in Europe and at the focus of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, both of which aim to tackle biodiversity loss, reverse climate change and support sustainable land use. However, according to current estimates, 33% of the Earth’s soils are already degraded while more than 90% are at risk of becoming degraded by 2050.
An example of Climate Smart Agriculture is based on the research and advances in tractor technology could help boost soil health and encourage climate-smart agriculture and promote no-till or reduced till agriculture. This involves planting crops without turning or digging the soil. Tilling kills unwanted plants and allows easier planting, it is costly and time-consuming and can lower the quality of the soil through soil compaction and erosion.
An innovative way to reduce reliance on tilling is ripping. Ripping mechanically breaks up compacted soil layers using heavy blades which break up compacted soil layers but crucially, unlike tilling, without turning them over. This can improve crop productivity and build resilience to both drought and flood conditions in a way that also reduces soil erosion and degradation. Despite the potential benefits of ripping the soil, its uptake has been slow and access to such technology remains low in many areas of the world.