Climate change will be a costly issue unless we manage to limit the global temperature increase to a maximum of 2° C. In Finland, rising temperatures and longer growth season may increase crop yields and growth rates of trees, but not without also increasing risks.
Storm damages may increase. Damages caused by insects and fungi may reduce crop yields and hamper forest tree growth. The amount of carbon and nutrients stored in soils may decrease.
To adapt to climate change, we have to develop new farming techniques and start using and breeding crops that can adapt to the changing conditions.
At the Paris climate conference, practically all countries in the world gave their support to the efforts to limit the global temperature increase to a maximum of 2° C. Methods to reduce emissions are being developed increasingly, but the measures that have been agreed so far are not enough to reach this goal.
As such, all sectors from energy production to traffic and industry must be prepared to adapt to the gradually tightening emission limits. Agriculture and forestry sectors have the tools to reduce emissions from soils, in particular.
According to the annual inventory performed at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), the most significant emission source in the agriculture and forestry sector are the peat soils. Soil emissions may be reduced by developing forestry management practices as well as growing hay and other species adapted to wet peat soils on low yielding fields.
Measures have to be taken to stop the decline of organic matter in mineral soil fields. An emission source may be turned into a carbon sink, which also improves farming conditions. Reducing emissions may also have other benefits and will be more economically sustainable than continuing with the current methods.
In joint research projects with farmers and forest owners, Luke’s researchers will examine how different methods may be applied efficiently. Current topics of intensive research are the effect of field plots on soil emissions, the cost effectiveness of emission reductions as well as how prepared the farmers are to adapt new techniques.
In collaborating with forest owners and the forest industry, the management of drained peatland forests will be developed with studies on how converting to continuous cover forestry practices would affect the forest soil emissions and the profitability of the forestry industry.
Text: Raisa Mäkipää
Photo on top of the page: Pixabay.
Published in Finnish in Maaseudun Tulevaisuus 26 of February 2017.