Undisturbed soils release less CO₂ to the atmosphere. Agriculture accounts for 26% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Tractor fuel, fertiliser and methane from cattle are some of the main contributing factors. Tilling soil by breaking it up with ploughs also exposes carbon buried in the soil to oxygen in the air, allowing microbes to convert it to CO₂. New research has explored the possibility of no-till farming, which found it produces up to 30% lower emissions. Perhaps because there are no chimney stacks belching smoke, the contribution of the world’s farms to climate change seems somehow remote. But agriculture accounts for a staggering 26% of all greenhouse gas emissions . Tractors running on diesel release carbon dioxide (CO₂) from their exhausts. Fertilisers spread on fields produce nitrous oxide. And cattle generate methane from microbes in their guts. Even tilling the soil – breaking it up with ploughs and other machinery – exposes carbon buried in the soil to oxygen in the air, allowing microbes to convert it to CO₂. Farmers usually do this before sowing crops, but what if they could avoid this step? In newly published research from farms across the UK, we discovered that an alternative approach […]

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