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Farmers and the agro-forestry sector in many parts of the world use fire for a variety of purposes -- on cultivated fields to clear stubble, weeds and waste before sowing a new crop; to “renew” pastures or to clear fallow lands, orchards or timber stands of underbrush. While this practice may be fast and inexpensive for farmers, it is highly unsustainable and economically negative, as it reduces the fertility of the soil, increases the use of fertilizer and increases erosion. It also produces large amounts of the particle pollutant black carbon, especially when set agricultural fires spawn wildfires. Open burning and the wildfires that spread from it comprise the largest source of black carbon globally, just above household energy.
Black carbon is a short-lived climate pollutant that contributes to air pollution, climate change, and increased melting in the cryosphere (regions of snow and ice). Open burning also represents one of the largest causes of air pollution-related illnesses and deaths after traditional cookstoves.
Introducing climate-smart agriculture techniques, including no-till and soil restoration, via sponsored training, equipment, and model farms can eliminate open burning while increasing productivity and soil quality. Co-benefits of no-burn climate-smart agriculture include reduction of fertilizer, petrol and irrigation, improved air quality and public health, improved soil quality, increased yields, and capacity building via training, technology, and equipment.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition is working to support regional networks and projects that facilitate the adoption of open burning alternatives. These “no burn” methods have the potential to reduce black carbon emissions from this source to near-zero, while simultaneously providing economic and social benefits for farmers. Since 2014, the CCAC has been working with the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI), to raise awareness and ambition about tackling this problem, together with the Punjab Agricultural Management & Extension Training Institute (PAMETI) and CARE Peru through demonstration projects in Peru and India. Ohio Miami University has also played a key role in the satellite mapping and monitoring component.
This webinar brings together policy makers, practitioners, and scientific experts to discuss the results and lessons learned from the demonstration projects in Punjab, India and in Huancayo, Peru.
The webinar panelists included the following. The webinar presentations and recording are available below.
Available solutions to no-burn methods