Category Archives: Agroforestry

CONGO’S UNPOPULAR RE-ELECTION

Congo Election

Congo’s Kabila chases an unconstitutional, unpopular re-election

Congo ruling party shows all signs of seeking Kabila third term

KINSHASA (Reuters) – From the sprawling capital Kinshasa to villages deep in the equatorial forests, Congo’s ruling PPRD is in full-on election campaign mode – and President Joseph Kabila’s face is everywhere.

The deadline for declaring candidates for Democratic Republic of Congo’s scheduled Dec. 23 poll is just one month away, and Kabila, 46, is officially not allowed to run again: August 8, 2018

NO SIGN OF A SUCCESSOR

But his bearded portrait smiles down from billboards and T-shirts being printed by his People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), while there is no sign of a successor.

Kabila intends to bypass the constitution and run for a third term. Any such move would likely ignite chaos across the vast, mineral-rich country, which has never seen a peaceful change of power in the 58 years since independence from Belgium.

Kabila is unpopular in the capital Kinshasa and many parts of the country. A rare poll released in March showed that eight in 10 Congolese have an unfavorable opinion of him. Scores have died in protests since he refused to step down when his mandate expired 18 months ago.

Congo Election

Militias have proliferated, killing and displacing villagers, kidnapping foreigners and shutting down eco-tourist spots. The violence has even hit mining operations in Africa’s top copper producer and the world’s leading miner of cobalt.

WHAT LEGAL BASIS?

Long before the changes, the court had ruled when Kabila’s mandate expired in 2016 that he could stay on until the poll.  What poll? Another option for Kabila is to hold a referendum, as his allies have sometimes suggested and as the presidents of neighboring Rwanda and Congo Republic did.

Resistance could come from Congo’s Catholic church, which has slowly transformed from a mediator for peace to lightning rod for dissatisfaction with Kabila: the bishops will never support” a Kabila third term.

Congo Election

It would also set Congo on a collision course with Western powers and its neighbors – both of which have a history of meddling in its affairs. Wars between 1996 and 2003 sucked in nine African armies and killed millions.

AFRICA FUTURE AND OUR MISSION:  

Our mission is to be the best in the world in micro hydro electric and water resource management: by evolving innovative damless hydroelectric and water transfer technology. We create Today’s Tall Tree Nurseries to support Micro Finance for women farmers and their families using the Carbon Tax Fund, a new form of foreign aid. We export Mechanization into Africa for more productive agriculture. A Future in Africa depends on work like this.

A Future in Africa

Tall-Trees2 The best time to plant NUT TREES was 20 years ago

There is no doubt that Africa is well braced to become the Future Food Basket of the World.

Since the year 2000, there have been 27 major wars on the planet and 90% of these wars were civil wars, not because of ethnic diversity but because of a declining economy along with a lot of uneducated and unemployed teenagers. This happened despite the abundance of commodities. This resulted in a substantial brain drain of a knowledge-based world. Uganda use to be called the Switzerland of Africa before Idi Amin began the country’s biggest brain drain.

The countries that get rich are the ones who attract great minds or those countries that educate their own. Most of Africa does not, so it has little hope of accomplishing anything beyond survival. Africa has become irrelevant in the knowledge economy. So the developed economies have generally abandoned many of these countries to their fate: failing or falling apart.

Most of the inhabitants of Africa, even South African, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo with all their resources have become poorer today that they were twenty years ago. In the last 35 years since 1970, the richest countries grew by 2%, while the poorest third countries did not grow at all. Many African countries either don’t get it or they simply can’t keep up. They get distracted by looking in their rear view mirror of culture and nationalism.

Land and people have become an instrument to be used and controlled.  Large tracks of land are being purchased at bargain basement prices by large international companies. This is exactly the opposite of what should happen: land and people should be the main means of generating wealth.

African countries need governments that provide economic and political stability.  A government’s job is to attract and keep smart and entrepreneurial people and to encourage the launching on new companies in the country. If what it really counts is having smart people, then they have to be willing to share one’s  time and space in order to interact with them. They need to discover how this can be done — not why it can’t be done. These new companies will demand a “hands-off” from bribery and collusion.

We are living in an explosive age of knowledge because of the Internet and Google. The rules are different in a knowledge economy. If you cannot use new-found knowledge and equity, you will remain uncompetitive. A measure of knowledge intensity is a simple formula: Value-Added Exports/Commodity Exports. If the ratio is less than one, the country will remain vulnerable to commodity cycles.

The basic industry of the planet is agribusiness. Most of humanity is living from growing, transforming, distributing and selling food. Those who are not market savvy or technologically-literate in agriculture are going to have a hard time.

The good news is that history can change faster than one can expect. It all depends on a country’s ability to adapt and adopt an ethical, political and economic challenge and  to use the knowledge
wisely.  Africa is well braced to become the Future Food Basket of the World.Untitled-3

Living Water MicroFinance Inc. proposes to begin important changes: Continue reading CONGO’S UNPOPULAR RE-ELECTION

Farming Out Global Warming Solutions 2

Combating Climate Change: 

Changes to agricultural practice and forestry management could cut greenhouse gas emissions, buying time to develop alternative technologies.  This can be done by farming Out Global Warming Solutions.

DEFORESTATION

Farming Out Global Warming Solutions

Humanity has cut too many trees and by caused an immense desertification. The solution is quite simple: reverse the desertification and start planting trees. This solution will result in reducing the quantity of carbon dioxide in the air. It will also create valuable property that produces financial profits.

Each year, nearly 33 million acres of forestland around the world is cut down, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  Without action now, most of the world’s tropical forests will be lost by this century’s end. During the last half century, the seemingly endless Amazon has lost at least 17% of its forest cover.

Farming Out Global Warming Solutions

If such losses were cut in half, it could save 500 million metric tons of carbon annually and contribute 12 percent of the total reductions in GHG emissions required to avoid unpleasant global warming, researchers recently reported in Science.

Farming Out Global Warming Solutions

FORESTATION

Planting trees remains one of the most cost-effective means of drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Therefore, trees act as carbon sinks, alleviating the greenhouse effect. There are millions of acres of tropical pastures available.

The biome encompasses 6.7 million km2 (twice the size of India) and is shared by eight countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname), as well as the overseas territory of French Guiana. 

 Tree-planting could sequester (remove from the atmosphere) around 1.1–1.6 GT of CO2 per year. That compares to total global greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 50 GT of CO2 in 2004.

Farming Out Global Warming Solutions

NO-TILL FARMING

Among proposed changes: more widespread adoption of so-called no-till farming, a practice that involves leaving unharvested crop stalks and other plant matter behind in the field undisturbed by plows and other soil-agitating instruments.

Farming Out Global Warming Solutions

Basically, the carbon stored inside the remains sinks into the soil instead of being stirred up and into the atmosphere when the soil is prepared for planting using conventional means. Such no-till farming provides a double benefit for farmers: improved soils and reduced fuel use, because it negates the need to harvest the stalks with tractors and other equipment.

What are we to do?

Continue reading Farming Out Global Warming Solutions 2

Unstable Weather 2

Phenomena of Unstable Weather

HEAT WAVES

The deadly weather phenomena, heat wave, is a long period of hot unstable weather. Heat waves have increased in frequency and duration in recent years and will continue to do so.

Unstable Weather

Carbon Tax is not Enough!

Carbon should not flow unpriced into the atmosphere, any more than you should be allowed to toss your garbage in the street. A rising carbon tax would discourage carbon emissions in every single economic transaction, every day of the year. 

Once one major country or region adopts carbon dividends with border carbon adjustments, other countries are compelled to follow suit [to prevent paying border adjustments to countries with carbon taxes]. One by one the dominoes fall.

Since every action of a modern life involves using fossil fuel, the only way to get enough change is to send a price signal through the matrix, so that everyone from investors to car buyers to milk-drinkers will find their behavior changing automatically. Carbon pricing is also one of the tools clean tech entrepreneurs cite as key to supporting innovation.

Carbon pricing plans now cover about 12 percent of the world’s emissions — have been far from earth-shaking.  At best, a carbon tax is one arrow in a quiver full of other arrows we’re going to need to let loose in a volley.

Unstable Weather

Bill McKibben’s “Step It Up!” campaign to stop global warming.

Step It Up, a nationwide campaign to combat global warming, drew thousands of Americans concerned about climate change. Holding 1,400 events around the nation, participants in National Day of Climate Action got creative. In lower Manhattan, protesters formed a line at the place where rising sea levels are predicted to reach. But that was ten years ago. Where is this model now?

Unstable Weather

If there is a model within American memory of what must be done, it is the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.

 Will FORESTATION occur rapidly enough to avert the worst effects of a warming world? 

Unstable Weather

The 2020 gap is, according to a recent United Nations Environment Program report, the difference between global emission levels consistent with the 2°C and emission expected if country commitments are implemented. “Global emissions should not be higher than 44 Gt CO2. However the range of expected global emissions (median estimates) from the pledge cases is 52 – 54 Gt CO2 in 2020. The gap in 2020 is therefore 8 – 10 Gt CO2.”  This gap can be CLOSED by FORESTATION.

Unstable Climate

Tropical forests are incredibly effective at storing carbon – providing up to 30% of the solution towards climate change. It has been estimated that 8 – 10 Gt CO2 could be stored in tropical plantations.

Despite this, nature-based solutions only receive 2% of all funding devoted to climate solutions.

Politicians are completely overwhelmed by the sheer complexity, size and number of crises in the world at present. Politicians should not be lurching from crisis to crisis like a drunk. They lack the leadership that Winston Churchill brought to the Second World War.

Unstable Weather

The Copenhagen Accord commits developed countries to the goal of sending $100 billion per year to developing countries in assistance for climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation through 2020. If ten per cent of this went to African farmers this would be around a micro finance support of $800 per farming household per year, which could provide a powerful incentive to change.

There was also a collective commitment by developed countries for $30 billion in “new and additional” resources in 2010-2012 to help developing countries reduce emissions, preserve forests, and adapt to climate change; and a goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year in public and private finance by 2020 to address developing county needs.

Aside from saving the planet, Are Tropical Nurseries a Good Investment?

YES!

Continue reading Unstable Weather 2

Next Green Revolution 2

The Next Green Revolution

Science prevented the last food crisis. Can it save us again?

 

Africa’s cropland biome occupies ~38% of the photo synthetically active land area of the African continent (~19.8 M km2) and encompasses more than 90% of its rural population living in 54 countries.

Next Green RevolutionRegion of Interest

We must concentrate on the biomes of Africa that include forests and rangelands, but exclude deserts

Next Green Revolution

Overall Region of Interest

A big, risky decision for small holder farmers is what type and how much fertilizer to apply to their crops. There is lot of uncertainty about how the crops will respond, with a risk that the farmers will even lose when they harvest and sell the produce. Testing the soil beforehand and knowing how plants will respond can play an important role in reducing this risk. But the high cost and lack of access to testing services have been major bottlenecks for farmers in developing countries.

Low-Cost Soil AnalysisNext Green Revolution

Similarly, planners in governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations who are working out what to supply to small holder farmers are also faced with large uncertainties on what types and combinations of inputs to supply and where, in relation to the local soils. For example, a number of agencies in Africa are designing fertilizer blending and liming programs and so need to know how strongly acid soils are and what soil micro nutrients may be limiting in different areas. Existing soil maps do not provide up-to-date information on specific soil properties that are needed to guide such decisions.

New advances in rapid, low-cost soil analytical techniques in the laboratory that simply measure light reflecting from a soil sample are reducing the cost of measuring soil properties. Soil infrared spectroscopy allows a soil sample to be scanned in just 30 seconds and the resulting fingerprint used to predict a number of soil properties based on calibration databases. And this costs just $1 compared with at least $100 using conventional soil testing methods. With the availability of satellite imagery and from space and now unmanned aerial vehicles at ever increasing spatial resolution (250 metres to sub-metre), it is becoming possible to make high resolution soil property maps at low cost.

Next Green Revolution

To successfully close the gap, we’ll need to adopt a variety of innovative strategies. We must produce more crops, while more efficiently using the food we already grow.

What are we to do?

Continue reading Next Green Revolution 2

SUBSISTENCE FARMERS in AFRICA 2

 SUBSISTENCE FARMERS NEED HOPE
Subsistence Farmers

Consider the livelihoods of the tens of millions of vulnerable subsistence small-holder farmers around the world. In 20 to 25 years we will get to a point in some places that either it will be too hot, too dry, too wet, or too cold for the crops we are planting and you, which will be incredibly disruptive at best.

Over the last two decades, either early or late on set of rainy seasons, unexpected rainfall, declining rainfall, and extreme day and night temperature are common.

According to The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 75% of the world’s 1.2 billion poor (defined as consuming less than one purchasing-power adjusted dollar per day) live and work in rural areas. 50% of the developing-country rural population were smallholders (farming 3 ha or less of crop land), and ≈25% were landless. The proportion of smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa was higher at 73%. 

Environmental degradation in such tropical dry land areas is widespread, irreversible or appropriately referred to as “desertification”. All this, and other stressors, are seen as contributing to an increased vulnerability to drought, which in turn feeds back in to environmental degradation and conflict. There will be eventual impacts on human development indicators such as health and education.

There is a bright side: increasingly unstable weather in recent years has left many farmers more willing to try new ideas. Many are now open to adapting of using practices like crop diversification, planting date adjustment, soil and water conservation and management, increasing the intensity of input use, integrating crop with livestock and rabbits, and tree planting. Subsistence Farmers

  • ·         Small-holder farmers can shift to irrigated farming in the face of climate variability.
  • ·         Small-holder farmers can hold some wealth in bank accounts, and others use micro finance credit to expand.
  • ·         Small-holder farmers can use supplementary feed for livestock, purchased or lopped from trees in their orchards.
  • ·         Small-holder farmers can engage in rabbit accumulation as a rational form of insurance against drought. 

 FOOD AID: EARLY SOLUTIONS NOW

Why in a “world of plenty” are 20 million people face famine? Continue reading SUBSISTENCE FARMERS in AFRICA 2

Reforesting the Tropics 2

Saving Humanity: Reforest the Tropics

Buying Time to develop alternative technologiesReforesting the Tropics

Planting trees remains one of the most cost-effective means of drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Therefore, reforesting the tropics will act as carbon sinks, alleviating the greenhouse effect. There are millions of acres of tropical pastures available. When given proper care, orchard tropical trees bear fruit up to 50 years or more.

Reforesting the TropicsPLANT MORE TREES around the world — because… trees are carbon storage (sequestration) experts.

The United States has cut down over 50% of its original forests in the last 400 years, which would have absorbed 50% of its carbon emissions. Once carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere it stays there for a long time. About 33% continues to cause damage after 100 years.

 It is estimated by the U.S. Forest Service that all the forests in the United States, combined, sequestered approximately 309 million tons of carbon each year from 1952 – 1992, offsetting approximately 25 percent of human-caused emissions of carbon during that period in the United States.

The world’s forests remove over one quarter (27%) of current annual human carbon emissions from the atmosphere each year, the equivalent of about 2.4 billion tons of carbon according to the latest published scientific research.

Reforesting the TropicsThe tropical zones of the world seem particularly attractive for forestation because of the high rates of productivity that can potentially be attained there, and because there appear to be large areas of land that would benefit from tree planting.

Reforesting the Tropics

TREE MATH

Young trees absorb CO2 at a rate of 13 pounds per tree each year. Trees reach their most productive stage of carbon storage at about 10 years at which point they are estimated to absorb 48 pounds of CO2 per year and one acre of trees absorbs 2.6 tons of CO2 every year.

 For every ton of new-wood growth, about 1.5 tons of CO2 are removed from the air and 1.07 tons of life-giving oxygen is produced.

POSITIVE GROWTH OF TREES IN THE TROPICS

Borial zone trees absorb 0.5 Pg C/yr compared to Temperate zone trees at 0.7 while tropical trees grow at the rate of 1.3 or 185% more efficiently year-round than trees in a temperate zone

Younger and faster growing orchards generally have higher annual sequestration rates and they are given higher personal care of proper fertilizer and water: add a further 25% increase. We conclude there is an additional (185% + 25%) or 210% increase in the value of CO2 absorption.

Reforesting the TropicsThis map shows solar-induced fluorescence, a plant process that occurs during photosynthesis, from Aug. through Oct. 2014 as measured by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2. This period is springtime in the Southern Hemisphere and fall in the Northern Hemisphere. Photosynthesis is highest over the tropical forests of the Southern Hemisphere but still occurs in much of the U.S. Grain Belt. The northern forests have shut down for the winter.

 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Australia), CSIRO forests researcher Dr Canadell estimate that tropical forest re-growth is removing an average of 1.6 billion tons of carbon per year. Combining the uptake by established and forest re-growth plus emissions from deforestation, the world’s forests have a net effect on atmospheric CO2 equivalent to the removal of 1.1 billion tons of carbon every year. Reforesting the TropicsReforesting the Tropics

In terms of cutting emissions a 53% reduction in 2010 emissions is equal to almost 20 Gt of CO2 emissions. For some perspective, global emissions from coal fired electricity generation were about 9 Gt CO2 in 2010.

Reforesting the TropicsThe larger predictions from climate models are due to the fact that, within these models, the more important greenhouse substances, water vapor and clouds, act to greatly amplify whatever CO2 does. This is referred to as a positive feedback. It means that increases in surface temperature are accompanied by reductions in the net outgoing radiation – thus enhancing the greenhouse warming. … Satellite observations of the earth’s radiation budget verify this fact.

VALUE OF TROPICAL TREES

Moisture created by the rain forests travel around the world. America’s Midwest is affected by the forests in the Congo which is roughly a distance of 6000 miles. Moisture from the Amazon falls as far away as Texas.

The Benefits of Tropical Trees:

Continue reading Reforesting the Tropics 2

Enough Food for the Future? 2

Is There Enough Food for the Future?world food crisis

The new UN climate report shows that crop yields already are being adversely affected by a changing climate, and how we respond globally in creating a more resilient food system is very important now. But we also recognize that food is central to our culture and is a source of great pleasure and comfort to people. We want to ensure we tackle all aspects so that we have enough food for the future.

world food crisis

The estimate of more than 9 billion people in less than 40 years highlights a stark challenge for the global food system.

We have enough food for the roughly 7 billion people alive today, but nearly a billion are hungry or malnourished, mostly due to poverty and unequal distribution. To feed those who are currently hungry—and the additional 2 billion-plus people who will live on the planet by 2050—our best projections are that crop production will need to increase between 60 and 100 percent. “Business as usual” could lead to a doubling of demand for agricultural production.

If the population is growing by less than one-third, why would the overall demand double? Simply stated: more people have more money.

Meeting the problem through production alone won’t be enough, and we should explore many alternatives that focus on reducing demand for food, like changing our diets and reducing food waste and loss. Increasing crop production can be part of the solution.

What drives the demand?

Continue reading Enough Food for the Future? 2

Age of Consequences 2

Climate Security: Building National Security

Climate change presents the greatest challenge of our time. It is a national security threat that America’s military, and militaries around the world are taking seriously. We are entering into the Age of Consequences.

Age of Consequences

Climate change alone will not cause wars, but it serves as an “Accelerant of Instability” or a “Threat Multiplier” that makes already existing threats worse. The threat of global warming for security will manifest through a range of effects: resource scarcity, extreme weather, food scarcity, water insecurity, and sea level rise will all threaten societies around the world. Too many governments are not prepared for these threats, either because they do not have the resources or because they have not planned ahead. How societies and governments respond to the increase in instability will determine whether climate change will lead to war. We’re really talking about violent events that require less organization like protests, riots and strikes.

  • The science is definitive enough for action. We cannot wait until you have 100% certainty before acting.
  • Climate change alone will not cause war, but it serves as an “accelerant of instability” that makes already existing threats worse.
  • Global threats include: migration, conflict over scarce resources, reduced food production, water insecurity, and others.
  • The military is preparing for climate change by, studying potential threats, and preparing to deploy when needed.

A perfect example of a national security treat was the Arab Spring. The terrific drought that struck that entire region in 2010 had global ramifications. It was especially disastrous for Egypt. The drought caused Russia and other exporters to end wheat exports.  Somewhat unexpected, it made a major contribution to the blossoming of the Arab Spring. The country has only been able to sustain about half its needs True, there was also a desire to embrace democracy, but that wasn’t what really drove the masses: it was the lack of wheat.

Sahel Africa

Traditionally, most of the people in the Sahel have been semi-nomads, farming and raising livestock in a system of transhumance, which is probably the most sustainable way of utilizing the Sahel. The Sahel, home to some 232 million people, comprising portions of ten (10) African countries, from left to right: [northern] Senegal, [southern] Mauritania, [central] Mali, [northern] Burkina Faso, [southern] Algeria, [southwestern] Niger, [northern] Nigeria, [central] Chad, [central] Sudan and [northern] Eritrea.

Sahel Africa

Contrast the situation in Ethiopia where these conditions are almost identical to Somali and South Sudan, which both have very poor governance. Ethiopia on the other hand is an active participant in the international climate change process of the UNFCCC, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change involved with risk mitigation and farmer adaptation. Generally, Ethiopia has not suffered in the same way as both South Sudan and Somali.

WHAT TO DO?

Continue reading Age of Consequences 2

DEFORESTATION PREVENTION 2

 PREVENTING DEFORESTATION

Preventing deforestation is our best chance to conserve wildlife and defend the rights of forest communities. It’s one of the quickest and most cost effective ways to curb global warming.

Worldwide, two billion hectares of land are currently degraded – an area larger than South America. Of this, 500 million hectares are abandoned agricultural land.

The amount of under-utilized and degraded land available in the region to accommodate for future agricultural expansion is estimated at 0.7-1 million hectares.

The Suitability Mapper enables users to identify potentially suitable sites for sustainable palm oil production in the following area:

degraded land

How do we prevent further deforestation?

It is still economically valuable to clear the forest for plantations. As current agricultural land becomes more and more degraded, producers move on to pristine, more productive land, with often harmful consequences such as the loss of forest cover.

If we’re going to stop deforestation, we need governments to do their part. That starts with cracking down on corruption and ensuring fair enforcement of forest conservation rules. Corruption fuels illegal logging and unsustainable forest management.

What is behind DEFORESTATION?

Continue reading DEFORESTATION PREVENTION 2

Productive African Farms and Emissions 2

More productive African farms could help both people and emissions.

Boosting the efficiency of Africa’s productive lands is not only necessary for feeding larger populations, but also a possible means of reducing emissions.

degraded-land3

An article in the Economist, “World climate talks address agriculture” identifies the problem.

SINCE the 1960s farm production has risen fourfold in Africa. But the continent still lags far behind the gains seen in South America and Asia. The extra food has appeared largely because more land has been planted or grazed, rather than because crop yields have improved. Instead, poor farming methods progressively deplete nutrients from soils; almost all arable land in Africa lacks irrigation, for example. This is a particular problem in a continent whose population is set to double by 2050 and which faces regular droughts, floods and heat waves.

The world is already 1°C warmer than it was in pre-industrial times. As it heats further, weather cycles are set to speed up, leaving wet parts of the world wetter and dry parts drier. At either end of the scale, extreme weather events will probably intensify. By 2050, even if temperature rise is successfully limited to 2°C, crop yields could slump by a fifth.

The costs of climate change already come each year to 1.5% of the continent’s GDP, according to the European Commission, and adapting to it will cost another 3% each year until 2030. This is in spite of the fact that, overall, Africa is responsible for just 4% of global emissions annually.

Soil: potential carbon sinks

Fertilizer is extremely important. We cannot feed people if soil is degraded. The production of fertilizer in a form of biochar is absolutely huge which help to absorb carbon in the soils.

Soil in a long-term experiment appears red when depleted of carbon (left) and dark brown when carbon content is high (right).

Scientists say that more carbon resides in soil than in the atmosphere and all plant life combined; there are 2,500 billion tons of carbon in soil, compared with 800 billion tons in the atmosphere and 560 billion tons in plant and animal life. 

degraded land
Soil in a long-term experiment appears red when depleted of carbon (left) and dark brown when carbon content is high (right).

Well-nourished soils are better at absorbing carbon dioxide rather than allowing it to enter the atmosphere. But the continent’s over-grazed, over-used soil currently means Africa only stores 175 gigatons of carbon each year of the 1,500 gigatons stored in the world’s soils. Smarter farming could change all that. The world’s cultivated soils have lost between 50 and 70 percent of their original carbon stock, much of which has oxidized upon exposure to air to become CO2

If we treat soil carbon as a renewable resource, we can change the dynamics.  Restoring soils of degraded and desertified ecosystems has the potential to store in world soils an additional 1 billion to 3 billion tons of carbon annually, equivalent to roughly 3.5 billion to 11 billion tons of CO2 emissions. (Annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning are roughly 32 billion tons.) 

 Soil carbon sequestration needs to be part of the picture. Currently deforestation takes place where vast areas are cleared for new fields because too little grows in existing ones.

degraded-land13

Vast areas of deforested land that have been abandoned after soil degradation are excellent candidates for replanting and reforestation using biochar from the weeds now growing there. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, grasslands, which cover more than a quarter of the world’s land, hold 20 percent of the world’s soil carbon stock. Much of this land is degraded.

The biochar solution for small farms involves branches of fruit trees, which are cut every year to facilitate the harvest, weigh about 50 tons/ha. If this biomass is converted by pyrolysis to biochar, about 1/3 will revert to 16.7 tons of black carbon/ha and this can be mixed with compost. This will enhance the way biochar develops microbes.

Biochar

If one third of the degraded land, 660 million ha, are used and every year 15 tons/ha biochar is mixed in the soil, this will be together 10 billion tons of Carbon (10 Gt carbon is equivalent to 3.7 Gt CO2) taken from the air and stored in the soil. This is the amount of fossil CO2 which is just released every year.

co2-emissions

The only problem with this solution is the scale. Imagine what it means to use soil carbon sequestration techniques on 10% of all arable land: Millions of farmers must change their way of doing agriculture to make it happen. But the alternative — staying the course of ecological ruin — is not very appealing. 

Hilly Lands

Hilly Land Sustainable Agriculture (HLSA) farming systems feature the establishment of single or double hedgerows of either leguminous tree species, shrubs or grasses seeded or planted along contour lines. Hedgerows, serving as barriers, will conserve surface soil by building up organic mass, increasing plant nutrient elements and improving the water holding  capacity of the soil, thus conserving surface soil by slowing down erosion. Rocks,stubble,  branches and other farm debris are piled at the base of the hedges to further reinforce the foundation of the hedgerows. 

The densely planted hedgerows are pruned regularly to encourage the growth of a thick vegetative canopy and provide a continuous supply of green manure that is scattered on the planting strips between hedgerows.

Trees or shrubs alone used as hedges cannot control effectively soil erosion that can lead to flooding and mass destruction of hilly lands that took centuries to build.

Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) provides high biomass production for hedgerows; they have been successfully used in some parts of Thailand, Indonesia, China, and India. The grass has the potential to markedly reduce erosion and rapidly develop natural terraces on slopes with less management attention. It stays alive for 25 to 45 years without being replanted.

AFRICA AGRICULTURAL HOPESPOTS

Continue reading Productive African Farms and Emissions 2