It's easy to think of organic farming as just one approach. But as we learn more about how to provide food in a nurturing, sustainable way, experts are developing different techniques, and different emphases in how they think we should farm to feed a growing population without ruining the environment.
This involves using crops and production techniques chosen for the local environment. By focusing on what the soil and ecosystem in a region are best at, this can remove the need for artificial fertilisers, while reducing both waste and dependence on external inputs such as oil. It needs high yields of crops to work, and so involves large scale operations with massive glass-house complexes and crops groan on a large field scale. It's an approach that might look like traditional industrial farming, but that uses much more ecologically sensitive techniques.
This approach is in many ways the opposite of eco-intensification. It looks to move towards more traditional farming models, with small scale, labour intensive farming. Crops would be mixed to maintain fertility of the soil and provide resilience against climate change. It's about localised rather than specialised production - less efficient in the way the term is used in industry, but breaking reliance on big business.
This model puts the emphasis on CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases, and fits well with encouraging veganism. As livestock provide vastly more CO2 emissions than other forms of farming, the aim is to reduce grazing land in favour of growing crops, for example reducing grazing land in the UK by 80-90%. It also aims to minimise harmful emissions in farming that land. This fits well with local food production, reducing fuel miles by eating locally grown produce.
So which will win?
In the end, none of these models are likely to be universally adopted. Big business is pushing back against organic farming, so that succeeding at all is a struggle. Organic farmers must take the approach that best suits them and their customers. And of course new approaches will continue to be developed.
But it's good to see that a great deal of thought is going into ensuring that our food is produced cleanly, ethically and sustainably.
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