Sustainable land management (SLM) practices manage land resources that balance social, economic, and environmental considerations to meet people’s needs. SLM is adopting technology and practices that enhance a land’s productive capacity without degrading its natural resources like soil and water. Sustainable land management practices include cover cropping, crop rotation, and conservation tillage. So, why are sustainable land management practices important in 2023?
Achieving the Net-Zero Target
Increased human emissions resulting in greenhouse gases are already challenging the environment. The most challenging thing is the geographical shifts of plants and animals. Moreover, the vegetation is blooming. So, why are sustainable land management practices important in this challenge?
Sustainable land management will help reduce emissions. This is how we arrived at the net zero targets. Net zero refers to the balance between the greenhouse gas produced on the land and the amount removed from the atmosphere.
The forest, land, and agriculture (FLAG) sector can deliver 30% of the required mitigation to reach net zero targets by 2050. Efforts towards preventing deforestation, conversion, and investment in sustainable land use are some of the commitments to reach net zero targets.
Most farmers and companies with FLAG emissions exposure must take appropriate actions to reduce pollution. Examples of the measures are using efficient electric fertilizer spreaders to avoid fertilizer wastages that damage the soil.
Mostly in irrigation, farmers should shift from fuel-powered pumps to electric well pumps. Using zero-carbon renewable energy will help reach the net zero emissions target. According to the Science Based Target Initiative, companies with net zero emissions must reduce the emissions by 80% before 2050.
China, India, the USA, and EU28 are some countries targeted to help reach net zero targets. why are sustainable land management practices important in these countries? They are the top four synthetic N fertilizer-associated gasses emitters. Field fertilizer emissions accounted for 58.6% of emissions in these countries. The four countries accounted for 62% of the world’s total fertilizer emissions. Land management practice is the only way the world can use to reduce greenhouse emissions in the US, India, China, and EU28.
Mitigates Risks in the Business Sector
The pulp, paper, and food and beverages industries rely on farms for direct operation and supply chain. The riskiest fact is that land-related challenges to the business sector are not immediately noticed because the food business’s dependence on land is embedded in the supply chain.
So, why are sustainable land management practices important? In 2023, food and beverages only employed over 1,378,736 servers. So, the economy is affected if these companies face supply and financial challenges. The governments have taken the legal step to conserve land by banning the importation of products linked to deforestation.
However, as a business person, you must take steps to help farmers practice land management to mitigate business risks. As a farmer, consider farm crop insurance to avoid many losses as the world puts effort into reducing greenhouse emissions.
Business and Job Opportunities Creation
Food systems are the world’s largest employer for the younger generation. A sustainable transition in land, food, and ocean use systems creates a $3.6 trillion annual value. On the other hand, they are expected to create 191 million jobs by 2030. There are several careers and business opportunities associated with sustainable land management like:
Wildland Firefighters – they aim to extinguish fires in the forests. Some of the techniques they use are applying fire retardants with fire engines and helicopters. They can also create control lines and wet the fire-affected areas. Well drilling business can also thrive in this sector because the professionals need water in fire extinguishing exercises.
Natural resource technicians – they help to manage and conserve natural resources like water, minerals, and habitats. The natural resource technician performs jobs like inventing resources, testing the water, and controlling invasive species.
Why are sustainable land management practices important in forest areas? Forests and trees improve microclimate conditions that help to increase crop productivity. Trees in forests buffer the extreme climatic fluctuations. Fluctuations in temperature have a very negative impact on crop growth.
Retains Provisioning Services
Why are sustainable land management practices important in provisioning services? It helps maintain the ecosystem by reserving water, soil, and vegetation. Provisioning services examples are benefits to people that are extracted from nature. These include food, drinking water, timber for building, wood fuel for cooking and warming, natural gas, and crude oil.
The rising rate of soil degradation and water scarcity has threatened long-term productivity. This serious issue has led to a reduction in global yields. Drought and other extreme climatic events have led to great losses of production that have affected smallholder farmers.
Smallholder farmers’ livelihoods are dependent on subsistence agriculture. This is why smallholder farmers practice most farming in arid areas. Access to clean drinking water and energy is nearly impossible and poverty is striking. Sustainable land management practice is beneficial in provisioning because it helps:
- Increase food security for smallholder farmers
- Enhance local security
- Provide clean and fresh water to locals
Statistics indicate that global yields have been reduced by 16% due to soil degradation and lack of water. This has caused around 19% of the population to suffer due to lack of water and 30% due to lack of access to energy supply.
Multifunctional land use is one of the most effective ways governments have come up with to sustain human needs. Integration of livestock and crop production is the heart of multi-functional land usage. It makes it possible to optimize on-farm & local nutrients with biomass cycles. In multifunctional land use, fallow land and harvest residue are used as fodder, while animal dung is used as high-quality fertilizer.
Multifunctional land use is also practiced in various land use systems like:
Cropland – food and cash crop production are a priority. The challenges related to climate, pests, and market forces can be reduced by diversifying cultural land. And intercropping, crop rotation, and agroforestry help to achieve all the land benefits.
Irrigated land – dryland areas can be used for crop, fruit, and vegetable cultivation. However, not all dry areas have the potential for groundwater and surface water. So, if the area has no potential for water, ponds are used to collect runoff water during rainy seasons. While irrigating, bushes and trees grow between crops, which is used as a protection mechanism for the soil with shade. These trees and weeds are later used as fuel, fodder, and biomass to manufacture organic fertilizer.
Rangeland – Livestock management helps by reducing risks, while rotational grazing preserves vegetation. Like the irrigated land, care is taken to ensure rainfall infiltrates the ground. Since it’s grazing land, the vegetation covers the soil to retain the runoff water by reducing its speed. This enables it to seep into the soil.
Other than livestock production, multi-functional rangeland offers other benefits, like wood for construction, wood fuel for cooking and warming, wild fruits, and medicinal plants. Livestock management, however, needs plant specialists and animal hospitals because an outbreak of disease can sweep away a large herd of cattle.
Easy Regulations and Support Services
Why are sustainable land management practices important in burning grass and bush savannahs? Intensive soil usage in cultivation and livestock production, expansion of open fields for cultivation and crop production, and burning grass and bushes are the main causes of vegetation loss.
The effects of less vegetation cover are seen during rain when runoff water and strong winds trigger soil erosion. Soil nutrients are greatly lost, and crops can no longer thrive in the region unless measures are implemented to restore soil quality. Sustainable land management helps to put regulations and offers benefits like preventing soil degradation and enhancing soil development to retain organic matter. Secondly, it increases soil moisture, enabling crops to thrive in dry seasons. Third, it enhances nutrient cycling and primary production. And finally, it preserves biodiversity at the farm level.
Below are regulation areas the governments are paying attention to:
Biomass cycle – soil organic matter is beneficial in multiple soil functions such as soil fertility, soil biodiversity, carbon storage, surface water flow regulation, and water quality improvement. Good soil cover encourages the production of biomass and organic material. This is where sustainable land management practices are applied to enhance soil covering.
Water cycle – tampering with the soil cover and organic matter is the start of a vicious degradation spiral because of water cycle disturbance. Less water storage in the soil and a high evaporation rate deprive plants of water and lower the water tables. As a result, even the rivers start drying. Why are sustainable land management practices important in this area? They improve water cycles, vital in improving soil for better crop growth.
Cropland and irrigated land – deep tillage leads to reducing organic matter. Poor vegetation cover is also believed to be another critical factor that slowly reduces soil organic matter. The high use of mineral fertilizers rather than organic ones reduces organic matter in the soil to the extent of impairing its regulatory functions.
Moreover, a high evaporation rate leads to deterioration of the water cycle. Methane and laughing gas emissions from rice paddies should be regulated because they cause much damage due to greenhouse gas. To improve soil cover, SLM practices such as intercropping, conservation agriculture, and agroforestry systems should be implemented.
Rangeland – the global meat market demands well-developed grazing areas. This has led to artificial livestock breeding, creating more pressure in the search for pastures. Reduced vegetation cover is one of the consequences experienced in the modern days due to overgrazing. Reduced soil cover also accelerates the decomposition of soil organic matter and increases aridification. SLM practices like reduced or controlled grazing will positively affect the biomass and water cycle.
Embodies Traditional Values
Pollution from septic tank companies and plastic manufacturers has tampered with cultural identity. Cultural landscapes and endemic crops reveal information about the experience gained by particular societies. This is a clear way of expressing their history, cultural values, and characteristics.
Unfortunately, industrial welder shops and other manufacturers have converted these landscapes into dumping areas. And the best way to preserve these areas and retain cultural values is by sustainable land management. They can be converted to community grazing fields or farming lands.
Cultural & natural valleys and landscapes will be preserved if local farmers cooperate with manufacturers to take dumped polythenes to the factories for plastic bottle preform. This recycling technique enhances environmental safety. And the only way a farmer can participate in sustainable land management is by cultivating crops that will yield their effort.
Sustainable land management practices remind us of our cultural duty to clean the environment. So, if a semi trailer repair shop dumps used vehicle tires, farmers are responsible for informing the relevant authorities, since biodegradable rubber materials cannot benefit the crops. The practice reminds everyone of the embodiment they have with the environment.
Land management helps reduce the migration of young people from rural areas to the cities for job opportunities. Migrating from rural areas is what kills the culture and traditional values. So, why are sustainable land management practices important? They help restore cultural values by first creating economic opportunities in rural areas.
Sustainable land management practices are important in 2023 because we may destroy the ecosystem with the rising growth of industrialization. There is much to do as we look forward to the 2050s net-zero targets. For instance, you don’t have to dispose of soapy water from the commercial washing machine carelessly, and other practices. It’s our responsibility to reclaim our environment.