Climate-smartagricultureSolutions for resilient farming and forestryfunded by
This is an EIP-AGRI Service Point publicationBrochure ‘Climate-smart agriculture: Solutions for resilient farming and forestry’, February 2021Pictures: AGFORWARD / Wakelyns Agroforestry; Earthworm Foundation; EIP-AGRI Service Point; Ekolantbruk; Global Network of Lighthouse Farms – Twitter @fselighthouse; Howard Koster, GRAND farms; LIFE Low Carbon Feed; Operational Group ‘Enable ConservationTillage’; Operational Group ‘CMOBILE / GMOVEL’; Operational Group ‘Inishowen Upland Farmers Project’; Operational Group ‘Latxa Energy’; Shutterstock; Kjell Sjelin; Jo Smith; Sanna Söderlund, BSAG.More information: www.eip-agri.euTable of contents2Climate-smart solutions for a resilient agriculture and forestry3Reducing farm emissions4Carbon farming for healthy soils6Benefits from diversified farming8Supporting the transition to climate-smart agriculture10Infographic: Climate-smart farming and forestry12This brochure has been produced within the framework of the EuropeanInnovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability(EIP-AGRI), which was launched by the European Commission to promoteinnovation in the agricultural and forestry sectors and to better connectresearch and practice.This publication follows up on the work of numerous EIP-AGRI FocusGroups and workshops on themes related to climate-smart agriculture.All results from these events can be found online via www.eip-agri.euand on the thematic webpage on agriculture and climate change. Formore details on the Operational Groups and other innovative projectsfeatured in this brochure, please see the EIP-AGRI project database onthe EIP-AGRI website.
Climate-smart solutions for a resilientagriculture and forestryThe realities of a changing climate are increasinglyaffecting European farming and forestry. Drought,changes in rainfall patterns, extreme weather events,pests and diseases or an increasing occurrence offorest fires all affect farm and forest productivity,food production and farmers’ incomes.Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an approach thatcan help farmers and foresters increase productivityand incomes in a sustainable way. It also helps tobuild resilience and adapt to the effects of climatechange, and contributes to climate change mitigationby reducing or removing greenhouse gas emissions.Climate-smart practices can focus on ways to reduceemissions in livestock production, to reduce farminputs (such as fuels, energy, pesticides, mineralfertilisers) for more resource-efficiency, or to keepcarbon stored in the soil. Making farming systemsmore diverse can also make them more resilient inthe face of climate change.This brochure highlights a number of EIP-AGRIOperational Groups and other innovative projectsin which farmers and foresters are developing andtesting climate-smart practices that address localchallenges, thus helping to build a more resilientEuropean agriculture and forestry.Read more about the European Commission’sstrategy for climate-neutrality by 2050, with theEuropean Green Deal and the Biodiversity and Farmto Fork strategies at the heart of this commitment.3
More sustainable solutions in the EIP-AGRI brochure‘Sustainable livestock farming’ and the Focus Groups onReducing emissions from livestock farming, Grazing for carbon,Permanent grassland and Renewable energy on the farm.Reducing farm emissionsLivestock production significantly contributes toagricultural greenhouse gas (CH4, N20) and ammoniaemissions, which affect the climate, our ecosystemsand human health. This is mainly caused byfermentation in the digestive systems of ruminants,manure decomposition, and an over-application of(synthetic) fertiliser.While the agricultural sector has already madegreat efforts to reduce these emissions (see recentfigures in the Agri-food Data Portal), climate-smart4practices can further help farmers to lower theirclimate footprint while improving productivity andsaving costs. Extensive farming systems, sustainablemanure management and optimising livestock dietscan contribute to lowering on-farm emissions. Costefficient precision farming tools can allow farmers toapply fertiliser more efficiently. Sustainable grazingmethods that store carbon in the soil and preventCO2 emissions, using local feed, and creating morecircular systems on the farm can reduce the needfor external inputs of fuel, pesticides and fertiliser.
Reducing the climate footprint of dairy sheepTo improve the climate footprint of dairy sheepfarms in the Spanish Basque country and Navarraregions, an Operational Group is optimising theiron-farm energy-efficiency by introducing morecircularity, saving costs in the process. Participatingfarms are producing their own energy through solarpanels and by turning biomass from feed productioninto biofuel that is used to heat the cheese factoryboilers. The generated electricity is shared betweenthe farm, the cheese factory, the homes of twofarmers and an agritourism facility.Farmer Felix Ajuria: “Getting the right informationhelps a lot: we are testing a digital tool that lets usmonitor and analyse our energy use through ourmobile phones at any time. A separate computer toolcalculates our carbon footprint. We know how muchenergy we produce and consume. This allows us tomanage our climate footprint, and adapt our energyconsumption to periods of energy production. So farwe have managed to reduce our energy use by 20%.This saves money but it also enhances the marketvalue of our quality cheese, which is a Denominationof Origin Product. It helps us to show our consumersthat livestock producers do contribute to moresustainability.”More information?Check the EIP-AGRI database“Through innovation and training with good practices,we want to help European farmers convert to a moresustainable production that is climate-friendly andalso economically viable.”– Low Carbon Feed coordinator José Castro –Low-carbon feed fromcrop wasteBy converting crop residues from rice and citrusfruits into nutritious feed for small ruminants,the LIFE project Low Carbon Feed aims to reducegreenhouse gas emissions that would come fromburning these by-products. The new feed alsocauses goats to emit between 8 and 22% lessmethane.https://lifelowcarbonfeed.com/enThe iSAGE project works with farmers to make theEuropean sheep and goat sectors more sustainableand profitable, and more resilient to climate change.Through knowledge exchange, innovation andgood practices, Horizon 2020 thematic networkBovINE addresses challenges for the Europeanbeef farming community. It specifically helps toreduce the sector’s environmental footprint, bylowering emissions and reducing leaching toimprove water quality.Thematic network NUTRIMAN focuses oninnovative nutrient management and recovery,to improve bio-based fertiliser technologies andapplications from organic resources, for moreresource-efficiency.5
Carbon farming for healthy soilsAgriculture has an enormous potential to store organic carbon in soils, plants and trees, reducing CO2emissions that contribute to global warming. Healthy soils help to mitigate the effects of climate changeand lead to better yields, more biodiversity and improved ecosystem services. Farm practices such as agroecology, conservation farming, using crop rotations and cover crops, or keeping permanent pasture can helpcapture CO2 in the soil in the long term.In many innovative projects, farmers and researchers are testing climate-smart practices that optimisethe carbon balance in farming systems, reduce inputs (fuels, pesticides, fertiliser) and have benefits foragricultural yields. Precision agriculture creates more opportunities to monitor soil carbon content and makemore efficient use of water, fertiliser and other resources.Finnish carbon farmers take climate actionTogether with over 100 Finnish farms, theCarbon Action Platform develops climate-friendly,regenerative farming practices that accelerate soilcarbon sequestration. “Soil carbon sinks are one ofthe most effective climate solutions we have”, saysfarmer and Platform board member Juuso Joona.“Our farmers work with researchers, advisers andfood companies to test carbon practices that aresuitable for their farms. This includes increasingsoil organic matter by adding manure or organicfertiliser, minimal tillage, crop rotations and covercrops, or selecting crops that increase yields.”Farmers receive training, attend demonstrationevents and get peer support from a network ofexperienced ‘carbon farmers’. Results from onfarm trials are used to develop a carbon calculatorto monitor soil carbon changes. “By measuring,6scientifically verifying and monitoring results,Carbon Action also contributes to the developmentof possible compensation mechanisms that rewardfarmers for sequestering carbon, for instancethrough governmental or market compensations”,Juuso says. “This may motivate them and stimulatethe adoption of carbon-smart solutions in Finlandand elsewhere, to revitalise ecosystems whileproducing nutritious food for people.”More information: www.carbonaction.orgThe Baltic Sea Action Group, coordinatorof the Carbon Action Platform, activelycooperates with the 4 per 1000 initiative,which encourages farming techniquesthat store organic carbon in agricultural soils,reduce atmospheric CO2 and actively help tomitigate climate change.
The EIP-AGRI Focus Group ‘Moving from source tosink in arable farming’ focused on long-lastingcarbon storage to contribute to climate changemitigation. More soil solutions in the FocusGroups on Soil organic matter, Non-chemicalweed management, Fertiliser efficiency, IPMfor soil-borne diseases, Nutrient recycling, andCircular horticulture.The EIP-AGRI workshop ‘Cropping for the future’identified solutions for crop rotation and cropdiversification. Watch the video to see howDutch farmer Matté Eikelenboom applies cropdiversification on his farm.Co-designing measuresfor grass weed control inarable systemsConservation agriculture (CA) can improvesustainability and labour efficiency, and reduceproduction costs. However, many Irish farmershave been reluctant to adopt CA techniquesbecause they can cause a rapid spread of grassweeds, especially in a wetter climate (withwetter soils).To show the effectiveness of CA methods,including integrated weed managementwith crop rotations and cover crops, an IrishOperational Group has set up a network offarmers, researchers, advisers and industry toco-design the best grass weed control measuresto use in these systems.“The project has helped us understand more aboutsterile brome issues and we hope to be on top of theproblem on the farm before the project ends.”– Gareth Brown, focus farmer in the Operational Group –Project leader Michael Hennessy (Head ofCrops Knowledge Transfer, Teagasc): “Welet farmers see first-hand how problematicgrass weeds can be controlled sustainably indifferent cropping systems. Maximising farmerto-farmer knowledge exchange can support abetter understanding of the grass weed issues,which can stimulate the wider adoption of CAtechniques on Irish tillage farms.”More information?Check the EIP-AGRI database7
Benefits from diversifiedfarmingIntroducing diversity into farming systems can makethem more resilient to climate change effects. Mixedfarming, agroforestry or silvopastoralism, or applyingcrop rotations and crop diversification can help todistribute risk and make it easier to cope with a failedharvest, for instance due to extreme weather events.Mixing productions also allows farmers to diversifytheir sources of income and satisfy a wider range ofconsumer demands.Diversified systems improve soil structure due to adiversity of root systems. This optimises nutrientcycling, reduces leaching, increases infiltration andboosts soil organic matter, which is important for ahealthy crop production. Trees on farm land serve ascarbon sinks. Diversified crops increase biodiversityand benefit pollinators, improve pest managementand weed control, reducing the need for chemicalfertilisers or herbicides. Bringing legumes intorotations also helps to capture more nitrogen,reducing the need to use mineral N fertiliser, andthis can also bring more protein self-sufficiency infeed production.Mixed farming systems allow farmers to useresources more efficiently by using crops andgrassland to feed animals and by fertilising the fieldswith manure from their own or other local farms. Thisreduces the need for imported feed, which is moreclimate-friendly and saves costs. While diversifiedfarming systems can be more complex to design andrequire more knowledge, taking harvest income andother benefits into the total balance shows that theycan be more profitable in the long run.8More on diversified farming systems in the EIP-AGRIFocus Groups on Mixed farming systems andAgroforestry
Chickens tackle weeds inPortuguese vineyardsBoth for organic and conventional farmers, weedcontrol in vineyards, orchards and between linesof horticultural crops is a challenge. Weedsunder the vine rows or in the vegetable lines canreduce growth and affect yields, but mechanical weed control is not always easy to perform.Portuguese Operational Group CMOBILE is bringing chickens into the field, to control the weedsand avoid having to use synthetic herbicides.The animals are kept in specially designed mobile parks that allow them to graze the weedsbut prevent them from damaging the crops.They also eat snails and other pests that couldcause damage.Luís Mendes, BIOPROTEC: “The chickens help tosolve the weed problem in a sustainable way.They also add organic matter through manure,and provide additional sources of incomethrough low-cost egg and organic meat production.”More on Operational GroupCMOBILE / GMOVEL in the EIP-AGRI database“The pigs on the farm love to root in the soil. We getabout 95% soil preparation from this. This improvesthe self-seeding of new forest.”- Swedish farmer Kjell Sjelin -Demonstration network foron-farm climate resilienceEU LIFE project SOLMACC has set up a networkof demonstration farms in Sweden, Germanyand Italy to test farming practices that endly. All farmers have tested on-farmnutrient recycling, crop rotations, reduced tillage, andagroforestry.Read more details in the EIP-AGRI inspirational ideaor on https://solmacc.eu/Did you know.A German Operational Group is growingsoybeans for feed and food, in mixedcultivation with winter wheat and silage maize.This avoids land competition while increasingthe protein content of the crop and boostingbiodiversity. Read moreHorizon 2020 thematic network AFINET (AgroforestryInnovation Network) has published a number offactsheets with practical solutions from the field ofagroforestry. FP7 project AGFORWARD has publishedleaflets on agroforestry innovation and best practices.An Operational Group is introducingagroforestry to Austria by testing new growingmethods on six arable pilot farms. A networkfor knowledge exchange will boost awarenesson the benefits.9
Supporting the transition to climate-smart agricultureAdapting climate-smart farm practices to local conditions is necessary to improve the resilience and theenvironmental, social and economic performance of the farm. Sharing practical solutions through peer-topeer knowledge exchange, on-farm demonstrations, different forms of collaboration with others in thevalue chain, pioneer farms, and good advisory support can help farmers in the transition towards moresustainable, climate-smart farming systems.Farmers collaborating forLiving SoilsBiodiverse soils that are rich in organic matterhave an enormous potential to tackle climatechange effects. To speed up the adoption ofsolutions that improve soil fertility, French projectLiving Soils is making sure that farmers are onboard.Project manager Gaëtan Jestin: “In collaborationwith agricultural cooperatives and businesses,we motivate our farmers to collaborate infarmer working groups and give them technicalsupport, ranging from trainings and field visits toexperimental field trials.We support farmers in implementing regenerativepractices, such as cover crops and reduced tillage.We are also developing methods to measurecarbon stocks in the soil, so that the benefits forecosystem services can be economically valued.This will give farmers a complementary incomefor their climate-friendly agricultural practices.”More info on:https://solsvivants.org/ andwww.earthworm.org10European pioneers on a Mission forhealthy soilsThe Horizon Europe Mission ‘Caring for soil iscaring for life’ aims to make 75% of Europeansoils healthy by 2030. This mission will helpto unlock the potential of soils to mitigateclimate change, support biodiversity, ecosystemservices and agricultural yields. To reach thisambition, the mission wants to combineresearch and innovation, training and advice,and demonstrate good practices by using “livinglabs” and “lighthouse farms”.
Moving towards climate-friendlyfarmingIn an Irish Operational Group, 25 innovative farmers are introducing sustainable measures on theirfarms, sharing knowledge and experience for moresustainability and profitability.INTERREG project Carbon Farming explores financial and market incentives for farmers who are implementing measures that improve soil quality. Theproject showcases what business models for carbonfarming could look like.More inspiration on the HorizonSeveral Horizon 2020 projects are exploring solutionsfor resilient and climate-smart farming systems:Multi-actor project STARGATE develops methodologies and decision support tools to make farming moreresilient to climate change, through micro-climate andweather risk management.AGROMIX and MIXED both support the developmentof efficient and resilient agroforestry and mixed farming systems across Europe, with close involvement offarmers and researchers.The candidate European Partnership on ‘agro-ecologyliving labs and research infrastuctures’ will support farmers in the transition to sustainable farming practicesthat are climate-friendly and beneficial to ecosystems.It will do so by delivering ready-to-adopt practices thatare tailored to real-life, local conditions, and that havebeen co-created by different stakeholders in a networkof living labs.The ‘Low impact farming’ website gives examples of how farmers reduce their pesticide use andcarbon footprint, protecting biodiversity and theenvironment.Many more projects are leading the way towardsmore environmentally friendly agriculture.Take a look on the EIP-AGRI website for moreinspiration.Did you know.The Common Agricultural Policy (2021-2027) willsupport the needs of European farmers while fostering a sustainable agriculture. “Eco-schemes”will offer financial incentives to farmers to take upclimate-friendly practices.Watch the animated videos on AgriculturalKnowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS)and Innovation Support Services to see howsharing knowledge and advisory supportcan help farmers to meet current and futurechallenges.11
Climate-smartfarmingandforestryClimate-smart farmingandforestry?Challenges due to climate changeDroughtChanges in rainfallExtremeweather eventsForest firesYield lossPests and diseasesSolutions throughclimate-smartpracticesReducing farmemissionsSoil carbonstorageDiversified systems(agroforestry,mixed farming)KnowledgeexchangeBenefits for resilient farming and forestryReducedfarm emissionsStable yieldsDiverse sourcesof incomeBiodiversityMore resource-efficiencyHealthysoilJoin the EIP-AGRI network at www.eip-agri.eufunded by
agriculture and forestry The realities of a changing climate are increasingly affecting European farming and forestry. Drought, changes in rainfall patterns, extreme weather events, pests and diseases or an increasing occurrence of forest fires all affect farm and forest productivity, food production and farmers’ incomes.