More diversity = resilience to climate change

Last Saturday at the Practical Farmers of Iowa conference, Wendy Johnson, a Climate Land Leader and co-owner of Joia Food Farm, gave a “lightning round” talk on “Five Things to Know About Agriculture and Climate Change Plus a Bonus One.” Here’s what Wendy wants you to know:

1. Fossil fuel reduction is necessary to mitigate climate change. We need to reduce trips across fields, reduce food miles traveled and reduce fossil fuel-derived fertilizers and pesticides used to grow corn and soybeans.

Wendy Johnson, daughter Vivienne and husband Johnny Rafkin

2. Perennial systems are the best ways to reduce emissions and draw down carbon. Perennial systems include trees, shrubs and permanent grass cover.

3. Ruminants can be climate change solutions. Livestock on the land using adaptive grazing may offset bovine methane emissions and draw down carbon.

4. Regenerative cropping systems (such as no-till, use of cover crops and multi-crop rotations) reduce the need for fossil fuel-derived inputs and build soil health.

5. Composting reduces emissions and keeps food waste out of landfills. Adding compost to grazing land increases soil carbon sequestration.

The Bonus: More diversity of people and enterprises on the land = resilience to climate change. Robust food- and fibersheds equate to more dollars circulating locally, more jobs, less fossil fuel use and healthier, happier communities.

Says Wendy: None of this knowledge is new. Indigenous people held/hold practice with the natural world as a core principle. We have to acknowledge the erasure and removal of entire peoples and cultures when considering our relationship to land and climate solutions.