Tilling Me Softly
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is encouraging farmers and ranchers to fight climate change with techniques that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Speaking in Kansas on Friday, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced new incentives and technical support programs to help farmers increase carbon sequestration, though her speech was notably short on specifics. Farmers are being urged to do their part by tilling less, increasing crop rotation, and reducing soil erosion, among other steps, while ranchers are called on to help the cause by reducing overgrazing. “This is good for the environment and it is good for agriculture,” Veneman said. The USDA estimates that its efforts will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 12 million tons each year by 2012, or 12 percent of the Bush administration’s total goal for emissions reductions. Charles Rice, a Kansas State University agronomy professor who joined Veneman for her announcement, said carbon sequestration isn’t a permanent solution to climate change, but it “buys time” while society works toward developing more eco-friendly energy sources.