Document / Publication
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
This report draws on experiments from across the world to quantify the benefits of soil-improving agricultural practices, and then predicts the results of applying these practices on a large scale across the state of Iowa in the United States of America. It assesses five farming methods according to their water infiltration rate. The report then analyses how shifts in farming practices in the American Midwest could increase resilience to the kinds of flood and drought events that region has seen in recent years and how this would change under future climate scenarios.
The report concludes that changes in agricultural land use could reduce the damage from future floods and droughts. Soil becomes more 'sponge-like' through the shift to a more continuous cover agriculture, which leaves more water available for crop use during hotter weather conditions and reduces runoff and soil erosion during rainy weather. More crop water use, in turn, translates into greater crop productivity and greater protection from crop losses. Farmers, however, need more research and financial and technical assistance in order to implement these resilient agricultural systems.