Impact of large-scale/industrial agricultural practices on climate change

Global modes of production, consumption and trade have generated enormous problems for the Earth, including the transcendental problem of global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agriculture is responsible for 10–12% of worldwide anthropogenic emissions and nearly a quarter of the ongoing growth of greenhouse gas emissions. Industrial agriculture contributes drastically to global warming, indicating the majority of total greenhouse gas emissions are related to agriculture.

The intense promotion of large-scale monoculture plantations and agrofuels as solutions to the present food and energy emergencies increase the tension on agricultural land, leading to further deforestation and more greenhouse gas emissions. In developing countries, in spite of the growth of industrial agriculture, there are still masses of small-scale farmers who can apply agroecological practices with potentially substantial impacts on greenhouse gas mitigation. In developed countries, the
changes in agricultural policies will be essential to reverse the land consolidation curve. Such issues include the escalating demands for organic and local goods, an increase in farmer market expansion and a rising popularity of community-supported
agriculture programmes.

Industrial farming encourages practices that degrade the soil and increase emissions while leaving farmers more vulnerable to damage as the planet warms. Gustin, G. (2019)

Large-scale farming encourages practices that degrade the soil, waste fertilizer and exploit manure, all of which directly increase emissions of greenhouse gases. At the same time, it discourages practices like “no-till” farming and crop rotation that grab carbon dioxide from the air, store it in the soil and improve soil health. The industrial food system presents a barrier to realizing the potential climate benefits of agriculture. Large-scale farming operations are said to force small farms out of business, damage
the viability of rural communities, reduce the diversity of agricultural production, and create environmental risks through their production practices. Farmers will need new technologies to combat drought and pests, more irrigation, and more equipment.

The ageing of a generation of farmers is also accelerating consolidation. The average farmer is approaching 60 years old, and many farmers are relying on the land to finance retirement. But they’re not selling it to young farmers, who can’t afford the high land prices. They’re selling it to larger farms or leasing it out.