The term is similar to “regenerative agriculture” or “climate friendly” agriculture. They generally refer to a set of farming practices, including minimum tillage; avoiding artificial and synthetic fertilisers; well managed grazing practices; and, building biological ecosystem diversity with cover crops, crop rotation and composting. Such practices have the common goal of restoring soil organic matter, reducing Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and increasing biodiversity. In effect, they aim to achieve climate neutrality, where farming practices do not result in increase in levels of greenhouse gases, or climate warming.
In discussion of the climate impacts from farming it is important to distinguish “climate neutrality” from “carbon neutrality.” Carbon neutrality is achieving a balance between the emission of carbon into the atmosphere and the removal of carbon through carbon sinks and offsets. This approach misses the contribution of methane, a key emission from agriculture, especially from ruminant animals, to levels of GHGs. In Ireland in particular, methane gases from cows and sheep are a substantial contributor to the roughly 33% of total GHGs. Thus, when the Irish agriculture sector speaks of reducing carbon emissions, it is leaving out a critical part of the climate story.
Some further ideas to explore on Climate Neutral Agriculture:
Is organic farming also climate neutral?
How can you determine whether the food you buy and eat was grown through climate neutral agriculture?
Are there any large, industrial farms in your area that have adopted climate neutral agriculture?
Peter H. Lehner and Nathan A. Rosenberg, Farming for Our Future: The Science, Law, and Policy of Climate-Neutral Agriculture, Environmental Law Institute. bit.ly/3U5H4zX See, also, the article by Lehner and Rosenberg in the current Commentary section of www.irishenvironment.com
See, “Regenerative Agriculture,” in iePEDIA section of www.irishenvironment.com (1 August 2021).
Léna Girard, “Climate neutral agriculture by 2035: the perks of regenerative agriculture,” Linkedin (22 Feb 2022). bit.ly/3DLzaG0
“Climate Terms: The Difference Between ‘Carbon Neutral’ and ‘Climate Neutral’,” earth.org (26 Feb 2021). bit.ly/3DnVl3M
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