Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

Sustainable soil/land management for Climate-Smart Agriculture

Production and Resources


Healthy soils are fundamental for sustained agricultural productivity and the maintenance of vital ecosystem processes and services. To cope with climate change, the different types of crop, livestock and forest production systems, and the specific practices used to manage them, need to be adapted to take into account the diversity and current status of soils, terrain and climatic conditions.

Diversified production systems and land uses will conserve the diversity of plant and animal species and varieties in the agricultural ecosystem; provide diverse habitats for beneficial predators and pollinators; and reduce farmers’ risk and vulnerability in situations where one or more crops fail or other farming enterprises collapse. Practices that maintain or increase soil organic carbon from year to year through the management of soil organic matter will bring 'triple win' benefits. They will create productive soils that are richer in carbon, require fewer chemical inputs, maintain vital ecosystem functions, and mitigate climate change. There is a need to shift away from specialized high-input systems towards an ecosystem approach for the management of land, soil, water and living resources ¬– an approach that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way, lowers the need for external production inputs and cuts down on the greenhouse gas emissions that are linked to these inputs. Integrated production systems reduce the use of inorganic fertilizers and their associated greenhouse gas emissions, diversify farm outputs, sustain yields and reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and other shocks.

A variety of sustainable soil and land management practices are available to enhance climate change adaptation and mitigation. Planning tools are needed to help land users select the most appropriate practices for their particular conditions. Policies and financial mechanisms that establish a conducive enabling environment will foster a greater uptake of sustainable soil and land management practices, and ensure that they have a wider impact on building resilient agricultural systems.