Future Farming: Productive, Competitive and Sustainable

Why do we need to focus on healthy soils?
According to research billions of dollars are being spent on fertilizers in industrial farming systems. The result is that in last 60 years farmers are increasingly in debt while international corporations continue to thrive. The increased yields are achieved by increased inputs and this is simply not sustainable in terms of cost and supply. Worse still the very soils that are producing the increased yields are becoming degraded and water reserves are being drained and often polluted. Farmers are becoming increasing more vulnerable and especially so to the unpredictable weather extremes. You only have to remember the devastating loss of topsoil that blows from the west during drier times.

What to do?
For many, farming is no longer a viable option and many have left the farm, often selling to large companies. Those that stay now face the option of radical change. The industry tells them that GM is the next step. They state that GM promises higher yields with less use of weedicides – simply use Round-Up Ready. Already we know from USA farmers that they are now facing massive problems with Round-Up Ready resistant weeds and the increasing occurrence of super weeds, their costs have increased and the promised higher yields unreliable. Aside from this there are claims that GM food is creating health concerns in both humans and animals. So why are our governments still supporting bio-technology when it is clearly not the answer for our future? By following industry advice farmers are literally being led down a dead end track.

So what is the future?
More and more we are hearing about farmers who are successfully farming without the use of costly inputs. These farmers are increasing production, reducing problems and costs while building healthy soils which in turn grow healthy plants and animals. Many are not resowing their pastures, they are not baling hay, they are not reliant on rains and certainly not worrying about weeds. At the same time we have an increasingly informed consumer who is demanding clean, green food and this demand is far in excess of supply.

So why aren’t biological farming systems being supported?
Vested interests, including researchers, are not too concerned about these leading farmers as it means a loss of income for them. What does the industry do when their products can no longer be sold in massive quantities? They certainly do not want farmers to know and so constantly ask for the scientific proof that this system works. Ironic isn’t it when the industrial system increasingly has much evidence that it is simply not working without massive expense.

What is it going to take for the support to shift from industrial farming to regenerative farming where Mother Nature is allowed to do her work?

Inspired by Walter Jehne’s presentation at the recent OAA conference: Future Farming: Productive, Competitive and Sustainable