This November the European Parliament in Brussels hosted an international workshop called «Best Agricultural Practices: Linking Climate Change mitigation and adaptation with CAP», which analysed how good agricultural practices can help fight effectively against climate change. Therefore, the Common Agricultural Policy should encourage its implementation in the field.
The event was organized by the European Conservation Agriculture Federation (ECAF), within the framework of the LIFE+ Climagri project which, besides ECAF, is being developed by the Spanish Association for Conservation Agriculture-Living Soils (AEAC.SV, beneficiary entity of the project), the Andalusian Institute for Research and Training in Agriculture (IFAPA), the University of Córdoba (UCO) and the Young Farmers‘ Agricultural Association (ASAJA-Sevilla) took part in this event. This event could not be celebrated without two important members of the European Parliament who are particularly concerned about agricultural issues: Clara Aguilera (Vice-chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament) and Ivan Jakovčić (member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament).
During the first session of the event, the Life + Climagri project was explained, which proposed a set of ten Best Management Practices (BMPs) in order to achieve a truly sustainable agricultural model. These BMPs include the application of Conservation Agriculture techniques (CA) and the implementation of actions to optimize the use of inputs and promote biodiversity. During this session, the key role that agriculture can play in mitigating climate change was highlighted and it was showed that the usage of Conservation Agriculture techniques can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and increase carbon storage in the soil by 10.4% (within the framework of the project) with respect to conventional agriculture. The shift from conventional agriculture into CA has also resulted in decreasing CO2 emissions by up to 78% since the beginning of the project (2014). At the same time, agriculture must adapt to the inevitable changes in climate that we have already begun to suffer. Therefore, the adaptation measures offered by Climagri, such as the implementation of deficit irrigation strategies, were also analysed during the event.
During the second session, the relevance of climate change in European policies was highlighted. In fact, it was stressed that the European Commission’s proposal for the future CAP includes that approximately 40% of the CAP expenditure target is devoted to climate change mitigation and adaptation. In addition, it was stated that a change in European agriculture is a key to achieving the commitments made by the European Union in the Paris Agreement (framed in the UNFCCC), according to which Europe must reduce at least 40% of emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.
The workshop has also shown that the BMPs proposed by Life + Climagri are, in many cases, part of real agriculture and not of a utopian model. Therefore, six farmers from different European countries (Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain from the Mediterranean basin, and Germany and Denmark from other climatic environments) explained how they are working day by day and improving their farms through the implementation of the BMPs of Climagri.
Remember that these ten Best Management Practices are the following: use of permanent soil cover; minimum soil disturbance; perform suitable crop rotation/diversification; optimization in the use of agrochemicals; appropriate management of agrochemicals; use of advanced technologies (decision-making aid systems, precision agriculture, fleet management, etc.); implementation of optimal and deficit irrigation strategies; joint consideration of optimized agronomic, technical and financial practices to improve irrigation water management; implementation of multifunctional margins and retention structures; measures for the promotion of biodiversity.
In the last session, the positive experiences of other LIFE projects focused on sustainable agriculture and climate change were presented.