Make Better Change: No-till Farming




Harmful emissions from factories and vehicles are often associated with climate change and considered to be the major cause of it, but there is another, often ignored, factor —  intensive farming. According to Nature Science Journal, one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions come from intensive farming, which uses a large amount of pesticides for crops to increase the yield. 

Factory pollution versus agriculture. Photos derived from https://unsplash.com/.

Intensive farming is one of the biggest causes of climate change, but there are ways to limit its effects. In Bulgaria, no-till farming is a less well-known solution, but it is popular in many other countries and can reduce greenhouse emissions while increasing food production. As soon as Bulgarian ecologist Veselin Spasov, discovered the benefits of no-till farming, he began teaching Bulgaria.

 

As the population increases, food production must also increase. To meet the growing demands, farmers use intensive farming, tilling the soil to provide land for crop production. However, tilling increases carbon dioxide emissions and contributes to climate change. It also disrupts the soil structure and causes erosion, which eventually makes the soil less fertile.

The lack of information about the consequences and alternative farming methods in Bulgarian is a serious problem. According to Spasov, a large percentage of the Bulgarian farmers don’t know that tilling the land contributes negatively to soil quality.

Spasov believes that no-till farming is a better way to do agriculture. It provides protection for the soil from erosion, with minimal disturbance to the soil. The carbon dioxide goes into the soil through the plants' roots, feeds organisms living there and stays there until the land is disturbed by development or farming. No-till farming holds carbon in the soil and then reduces carbon dioxide emissions.

No-till wheat production. Photo courtesy of Zlatko Dimitrov.

Spasov has a mission – to inform not only farmers of the benefits of no-till farming, but also everyone who is not aware of the impact of intensive farming on climate change. Because of his passion for the environment, he has planted more than 2,000 trees throughout his life. No-till farming became another passion for him because its benefits for the environment are even greater than planting trees.

Spasov planting trees. Provided by Veselin Spasov.

“Many people around the world have found out that the situation with the climate is going in a bad direction,” Spasov said. “Recycling, installing solar panels, using less unnecessary things are great things to do, but showing no-till to a farmer that has 1,000 or 10,000 hectares of land will make a huge impact in a good direction.” 

He spends a lot of his time translating videos [from English to Bulgarian], to inform as many farmers as possible and encourage them to think more about the environment.

“I gathered 40+ videos in one DVD, I made 100-200 copies so far that I am giving to farmers around the country.” 

Many videos and other information can be found at No-Till Bulgaria, a Facebook group created by Spasov.

 

Record-breaking high temperatures are being recorded, glaciers are melting faster than expected and sea levels are rising. According to an ongoing temperature analysis, conducted by scientists at NASA, the Earth’s temperature has increased by about 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1880. It is scientifically proven that temperatures are likely to continue rising due to greenhouse gases produced by human activity.

Environmental science professor at the American University in Bulgaria, Bill Clark, made an analogy between climate change and boiling a frog in a pot of water. He said that if a frog is put in the water, which is slowly heated up, the frog will stay there until it finally dies. “Climate change is not going to hit us all at once, it is going to get worse and worse,” Clark explained.

He added that even if people stop putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere today, it is going to take 40 years or more for the system to reach a new equilibrium. “Time is running out,” Clark said.

Ecologist Veselin Spasov believes that it is not too late for people to take action. Even students can help just by spreading the word about no-till farming or translating videos like he did. 

“We have to be smart and think more about what we can do to make a better change,” Spasov said. 

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