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Sustainable agriculture as a tool to reduce pollution

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

A significant part of the emissions of CO₂ are caused by agriculture and food production, both necessary for human survival. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agriculture and food are responsible for approximately 21% of global GHG emissions.

Even one of the oldest jobs in history, agriculture, needs to investigate sustainable methods of production to address the biggest problem we face: pollution. Sustainable agriculture is one of the main solutions.

The goal of sustainable agriculture is to produce food ethically and over the long term, without harming the environment in any way or depleting natural resources. Crop rotation, using farming methods that require fewer pesticides and fertilizers, and incorporating crops and animals to increase soil fertility are some of the sustainable farming practices. It is possible to achieve these objectives by protecting the soil, reducing water consumption, betting on biodiversity and the well-being of the animals, and making a social commitment to human capital and the local economy.

However, this does not stop here, since another solution would be organic food production. No chemical fertilizers or pesticides are used in the production of organic food, which reduces soil and water pollution. Additionally, biodiversity and soil health can benefit from organic food production. It can be vegetable, animal or derived products. Nowadays, there are already more than 1,000 Spanish companies in charge of producing organic food, minimizing as much as possible the effect that their production has on our planet.

Organic food production or the practice of organic cultivation includes actions such as the use of vegetable residues left in the fields or livestock manure to improve the quality of the soil, the rotation of plants in order to maintain quality optimal from the ground and interrupt possible pests or diseases, cultivating products that prevent soil erosion when plots of land are not in use, among others.

Nevertheless, the waste of food is one of the factors that raises emissions of CO₂. It is estimated that about a third of the food produced worldwide is wasted, constituting a waste of natural resources such as water, land and energy, which are used to produce food. In addition, the deterioration of food releases greenhouse gases such as methane that affect the health of the planet.

Buying only what you need, storing food properly, and reusing leftovers are important ways to reduce food waste. Solutions can also be promoted on a commercial level, such as donating unsold food to a good cause or using food preservation technology to increase its shelf life.

It is definitely crucial to reduce the carbon footprint of foods, since the production of these foods generates disproportionate amounts of gas emissions, being the production of meat and dairies, the most polluting. There are options that can help us consume more responsible and sustainable, such as buying locally produced food or changing our lifestyle.

Even though food production and agriculture account for a considerable part of greenhouse gas emissions.CO₂, there are sustainable solutions that can reduce this impact. It is in the hands of society to start a life change that helps us make our planet a habitable place in 10 years.

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