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Unit 5 Working World
Lesson D
Farmers adapt to
climate change
Last lesson …
We talked about the greenhouse effect –
the natural one (without it we would not
be here) and the enhanced one, largely
brought about by our own activities.
We then talked about the other GHGs
(GreenHouse Gases) besides CO2 that
have an effect.
Can anyone remember what they were?
And it is not just industry that make
things worse.
Farmers contribute too
So in what ways is agriculture part of
the problem?
Nitrous oxide
So your homework was to find out
about mitigation by farmers
Mitigation is doing things that reduce the
effects of certain outcomes – in this case
the production of GHGs.
Here are the contributions – only 4!!! That
is why many of you did not get maximum
homework grades!
Harrison said ‘Using less manure’
If farmers use less manure then they can
grow crops they need have more for next
time and also help the environment by not
releasing harmful toxins into the
atmosphere and helping close the hole in
the ozone layer quicker allowing them to
be able to have richer soil and grow
better crops making them more of a
profit, it would also make a healthier place
to live so children can breathe fresh air
not air full of harmful toxins.
Betsey said ‘Changing a cow’s diet to
reduce methane burps’
The cows belch is the dairy industry's biggest
greenhouse gas contributor. Research shows that most
of it is emitted from the front and not the back end of
the cow. A single cow can produce between 100 and 200
litres of methane every day
The dairy industry contributes about 2 percent to
America’s total greenhouse gas production. Most of it
comes from the cow, the rest from growing feed crops
for the cattle to processing and transporting the milk.
One way to reduce the cows' intestinal methane is by
feeding them alfalfa, flax and grasses, all high in Omega
3s, instead of corn or soy. The feed rebalances the
cows' rumen, the first stomach of ruminants, and cuts
down on gas, she said. Another way is to change the
bacteria in a cow's rumen.
Wayne on ‘More Cow Burps’
Fish oils have been proved to be able to reduce
the methane expenditure of cows, as well as
assisting the circulatory system and improving
the meat quality. This could make a significant
impact on global warming as we know it because
the average cow can produce 100-200 litres of
methane every day and there is believed to be
around 1.6 billion cows in the world today.
Through adding just 2% fish oil into a cow’s diet
a decrees in methane emissions was achieved.
Farm animals are currently the cause of a third
of all methane emissions amounting to 900 billion
tonnes every year. There’s no doubt that this
will have a huge impact on global warming if it
goes ahead as planned.
Cutting Cow Flatulence with Garlic?
[from the blog]
Diet supplements may be the key to reducing methane from
Methane gas released as flatulence (80% burps and 20% farts)
from livestock is a significant source of greenhouse gas and
amounts to 18% of all GHGs – m ore than all transport GHGs
But entrepreneurs may have found a ready antidote to the problem:
garlic. Mootral (“moo” and “neutral”), produced by Neem Biotech in
Cardiff, Wales, contains a natural garlic extract—allicin—that when
fed to cows and sheep limits the growth of certain methaneproducing bacteria in the animals’ digestive systems. In two small
trials, methane output in cows and sheep was reduced by 15 percent.
David Williams, chair and CEO, expects further research will allow
output to be cut in half; simulations using laboratory equipment have
reached as high as 94 percent.
Tests are also being done to determine the best way to feed the
natural antibiotic to the animals—as a food supplement or in their
drinking water—and whether or not the allicin might taint their
milk. But Williams is optimistic that the product will be available for
livestock within two years.
Thomas said ‘Agro-forestry’
Definition: An ecologically based natural resource
management system in which trees are integrated in
farmland and rangeland
Agro forestry is the growing of both trees and
agricultural / horticultural crops on the same piece of
land. They are designed to provide tree and other crop
products and at the same time protect, conserve,
diversify and sustain vital economic, environmental,
human and natural resources. Agro forestry differs
from traditional forestry and agriculture by its focus on
the interactions among components rather than just on
the individual components themselves.
Research over the past 20 years has confirmed that
agro forestry can be more biologically productive, more
profitable, and be more sustainable than forestry or
agricultural monocultures. Many other benefits been
shown. Temperate agro forestry systems are already
widespread in many parts of the world and are central to
production in some regions.
But while mitigation can help, it will not
solve the problem for farmers.
Climate is very important to farmers and
if it changes, then this will affect what
they can grow and how successful they
But climate change is not just about
rising temperatures
Notice that not
suffers from
climate change
As you can see …
In terms of temperature and precipitation the
temperate zones – northern Europe, Asian and
the northern half of North America were likely
to come out of this smiling, so the only
adaptations we will make is to prepare for
better harvests from a choice of more crops!
However, most of Africa and many parts of Asia
will have much greater problems.
Already these areas are stretch on food
security issues. The changing climate can only
make things worse.
So many organisations are trying to find ways in
which they can produce enough food to feed
their people.
in Africa
have a
number of
Let’s think about the problems faced by
If you were a pastoralist, where there is a wet
season and a dry season, what would happen if
the rains were a week or 2 late?
What if it goes on being dry? What happens if a
wind gets up?
Let’s think about the problems faced by
Ok so now it has been dry for a long time. The
animals ate almost everything they could get
their mouths around and many died.
So the rains eventually come – not just the
regular amounts, immense downpours – what
could be the problem now?
So in summary …
When the soil is blown away or washed e?
away this is soil ……. ?
This way all the good bit of the soil are
blown or washed away – the compost and
the fine soil and the minerals (plant
All you are left with is the coarse sand
and grit – how good will that be for the
new plants?
If you are a subsistence farmer with a
small plot
If you plant your seeds ready for the wet
season and it does not happened, what
What if your new plants are just coming
through and there is torrential downpour,
what happens then?
So soil erosion is a major problem,
where it is drier, wetter or hotter than
And we have seen that soil erosion is worse when
the soil is bare.
It is worse when water can run freely over it –
which is more likely is there are no plants and it
has a straight run.
So farmers need to adapt – and in different
parts of Africa they are doing just that – now
some of the ideas are similar to mitigation, but
adaptation is doing similar things for a different
Planting trees and shrubs
We know that planting
trees traps carbon dioxide
which is a greenhouse gas
and that is good for the
But planting trees have a
whole lot of other benefits.
Their large root systems
hold onto the soil and help
to save it from being
washed/blown away.
They can be used as a barrier to stop desert sands
being blown across agricultural land – this stops
desertification – turning productive land into a desert
Planting trees and shrubs
Tree and shrubs can survive for quite long
periods of drought and a bit of flooding does
not seem to do permanent damage either, so
they are not lost in adverse conditions
But trees/shrubs produce products – wood for
building and cooking (there are many people with
no electricity in rural Africa
Tree/bushes grow fruits which contain vitamins
which are a good addition to poor diet.
Spare fruits can be sold in the market and allow
the farmers some cash
Planting trees and shrubs
So farmers are now learning about
planting trees around the edge of their
plots and in between planting areas.
But there are some special trees – like the
acacia, what fixes nitrogen, just like beans
and peas do. Plants need nitrogen to grow
– so growing these trees can substitute
for compost and manure
Remember what soil erosion
does – these guys can put
back goodness into the soil
Other ways to keep the water and the
soil in place
Minimum till – no more ploughing up all your land
- instead of removing all the old crop and the
weed,, using a disk you chop it up but leave it in
place. This does help mitigate GHGs by
‘sequestrating the carbon’ – that means keeping
the carbon in the ground and not letting back
into the atmosphere as CO2
That way the rain and the wind cannot erode
your soil and eventually it will break down to add
nutrients to the soil. It will even help the soil
hold on to moisture.
When you plant, you just add the seeds to a
disk-cut line and leave most of the soil
What about the animals? – the big issue is
do not let the animals eat right down to the
Some folks keep their cattle,
goats and chickens in a pen
and feed them forage they
grow specially the picture is
of a woman feeding her ‘zerograzed’ goats
That way they can gather all
the manure and put in back on
the land.
Others let the animals out in
the day (having fenced off
their crops) and bring them in
at night – that way they won’t
get eaten – and supplement
their diet with cut plants –
that way they still get some
Yet another way – is to divide
the land up into strips,
alternating forage and crops,
separated by thorny bushes –
then the next year, they swap
the strips so last year’s
manured strip becomes this
years crop. That way they can
make sure the animals do not
eat right down to the roots.
So summarising
We reviewed the causes of GHG increase and
looked at some examples of mitigation – that is?
We then looked at the impacts of GHGs on
climate change and at which farmers would
appear to be coming off worse – namely Africa.
We then looked at the impacts of these changes
on African farmers and the main one of those
Then we looked at some of the things they could
do to reduce the impacts on their lives –
Choose a country or a type of and
then a particular project – PP x3
about one project include a
picture of the project and a map
of where it is and something about
Or go to regional projects or
follow any other links on the site
that might prove interesting
Or find your own relevant item,
using google searches such as
‘African farming projects’