446 | IAASTD Global Report

      Under the Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), deliberate land management actions that enhance the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) or reduce its emissions have the potential to remove a significant amount of CO2 from the atmosphere in the short and medium term. The quantities involved may be large enough to satisfy a portion of the Kyoto Protocol commitments for some countries (but are not large enough to stabilize atmospheric concentrations without additional major reductions in fossil fuel consumption). Carbon sequestration options or sinks that include land-use changes (LUCs) can be deployed relatively rapidly at moderate cost and could play a useful bridging role while new energy technologies are being developed. A challenge remains to find a commonly agreed and scientifically sound methodological framework and equitable ways of accounting for carbon sinks. These should encourage and reward activities that increase the amount of C stored in terrestrial ecosystems but at the same time avoid rewarding inappropriate activities or inaction. Collateral issues, such as the effects of LUC on biodiversity and on the status of land degradation, should be addressed simultaneously with the issue of carbon sequestration in order to exploit potential synergies between the goals of UNCBD, UNCCD, UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. Such measures would also improve local food security and alleviate rural poverty (FAO, 2004b).

7.1.3 Managing the natural resource base of agriculture Soils, nutrients and pests

Soils. Multifunctional agriculture recognizes the many ecosystem services of soil, including: (1) services that support the growth of plants, including nutrient regulation, water supply and water cycle; (2) storage of carbon in soil organic matter and hence regulation of GHGs; (3) regulation of the impact of pollutants through biological activities and absorption on soil particles; (4) habitat for a very large component of biodiversity (e.g., soil microorganisms and invertebrates); (5) biodiversity pool, such as habitats, species and genes; (6) physical and cultural environment for humans and human activities; (7) source of raw materials; (8) archive of geological and archeological heritage (Kibblewhite et al., 2007). The framework European Commission strategy for soil protection (CEC, 2006) is based on identification of risk of loss of function, and putting in place remediation measures to mitigate threat. Many of these remediation measures could be applied to agricultural lands, but will need to be driven by a different mix of command and control, incentive-based, or market-based trading policy measures appropriate to different situations. Policies based on payments per tonne C or market sales of C are likely to be more efficient than those based on a per hectare basis, but will require new methods and techniques to provide cost effective information about the relationship between carbon sequestration and land quality, use and management in addition to estimates of base line for effective enforcement and verification (Antle and Mooney, 2002). Policy measures that promote carbon sequestration in soils would most likely generate positive results for the other functions listed above (Swift et al., 2004).


     Projected increases in certified organic agriculture raise additional sets of opportunities for AKST to contribute to maintaining productivity and soil nutrient levels while controlling costs and improving labor efficiencies (Chapter 5). Policy options for reforming institutional environments, policies and programs to be more conducive to sustainable agricultural methods (Egelyng and H√łgh-Jensen, 2006) include:

  • Investing in the development of organic certification in developing countries.
  • Reforming tax systems to shift the conditions under which certified organic farming compete with energy intensive agricultural systems, involving a shift from taxing wages towards taxing pollution and consumption of resources. (Chapter 2)
  • Increasing awareness of organic certification to domestic consumers in developing countries;
  • Supporting development of methods for organic certification compliant pest (and weed) and soil nutrient management, particularly non-proprietary, methods for the public good, such as biocontrol using natural enemies, nonchemical, and cultural methods of pest management.
  • Supporting AKST to further energy efficiency in organic agriculture;
  • Developing certified organic seeds that are better adapted to low-input farming landscapes (Chapter 2).
  • Investing in low external input technologies aimed at soil fertility improvement (Chapter 6)

Nutrients.Although in many countries policies for reductions of point source pollution have been successfully introduced, controlling non-point source pollution remains a more difficult challenge. Agriculture's contribution to nonpoint source pollution varies widely as a complex function of land use, cropping system, soil type, climate, topography, hydrology, animal density, and nutrient management techniques. Despite this complexity, research based nutrient management practices that are effective at reducing nonpoint source pollution are available. Wider implementation of currently recommended nutrient management plans is important for further gains in environmental quality.

Site-specific, nutrient management planning should guide the implementation of agricultural nutrient management practices that will be profitable and protective of the environment. Modern agricultural science innovations can increase not only efficiency of production, but also efficiency of nutrient use. Examples include (1) increased plant nutrient recovery and nutrient retention by animals; (2) improved understanding and modeling of the fate and transport of nutrients in soils; and (3) development of mitigation and bioremediation strategies such as wetlands, riparian buffers, and filter strips to limit total nutrient exports from agricultural systems.

Adoption of efficient agricultural nutrient management practices may be limited by current market processes that do not provide for positive or negative externalities and the politics of crop and animal production. Social and political pressures to prevent nutrient overloads from agriculture are increasing, but many in the sector cannot afford the high transaction costs to introduce mitigation measures and maintain profits under current agricultural business models