Agri & Gardening

About: <p>Growing food, either commercially or as a hobby is one of the most satisfying things you can do. It is however not without challenges. Protection against natural or man-made threats, irrigation or other treatments of the soil has to be done with care.</p> <p>Agriculture is the process of producing food, feed, fibre and many other desired products by the cultivation of certain plants. The practice of agriculture is also known as &lsquo;farming&rsquo;, while scientists, inventors and others devoted to improving farming methods and implements are also said to be engaged in agriculture.<br />Subsistence farming; who farms a small area with limited resource inputs, and produces only enough food to meet the needs of his/her family. At the other end is commercial intensive agriculture, including industrial agriculture. Such farming involves large fields, large resource inputs (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.), and a high level of mechanization.</p> <p>Nowadays, critical attention is given to industrial agriculture. Alternatives are proposed such as regenerative agriculture, the use of drones, <a href="https://www.whatsorb.com/agri-gardening/smart-agriculture-will-be-data--ai--driven-agriculture">smart techniques</a> and blockchain. The use of fertilizer and water in large quantities is also criticized. The risks of monocultures are large and in combination with the depletion of agricultural land, the reduction of insects and <a href="https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate">climate change</a>, it is necessary to change our view on industrial agriculture and growing crops.</p> <p>If there was an urge to come up with a sustainable way of agriculture and gardening solutions and share these topics globally it&rsquo;s now! WhatsOrb Global Sustainability X-change Platform is for you, storytellers and influencers to write about tiny houses, your experiences and expectations for the future at home and globally.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Global Sustainability X-change, that&rsquo;s what you can do together with WhatsOrb.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.whatsorb.com/blog/your-shared-sustainable-ideas-make-our-earth-a-better-place">What's in for me?</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
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Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3 of 3)
Once upon a time, the majority of land on our planet was covered with trees and forests. Undoubtedly a gorgeous view - and a perfect habitat for many of the plant and animal species that live on our planet. Unfortunately the number of forests have dwindled significantly over the past decades, most notably as the result of the ever increasing use of forestland for agricultural purposes. After having served its purpose, the land will once again be abandoned and quite literally left to waste. Agriculture our food source Back in the pre-industrial age, estimates were that some 5.9 billion hectares of our planet’s surface was covered by forest. This number has decreased significantly, down to a mere 4 billion hectare (still making up 31% of the world’s land surface) in recent years. And the rate with which it is declining is alarming: an area roughly the size of Greece goes to waste every year, putting more and more treasured land at risk.   Especially now that the world population seems to be booming, we need more space - both for living and for growing our food - and the forest seems the most logical place to take it away from. Only now are we starting to realise that this logical choice has definitely not been the cleverest one: trees have rightfully earned their spot as ‘lungs of the world’, capable of absorbing CO2 and emitting oxygen. At this time, they are the best medicine against global warming that we’ve got. Simultaneously, we have resorted to using land as a disposable product. Once it has been plundered for its use in agriculture, we leave it to be and move on to the next piece. Eventually, this will exhaust our most important food source, passing on an enormous problem to future mankind. Regenerative agriculture, agrofostry, biodiversity Enter agroforestry, another example of regenerative agriculture; a topic that I already dedicated two articles to. Regenerative agriculture is a set of systems that focus on providing plants with the proper micro-climatic conditions and ecosystem to thrive, rather than just with water, soil and fertiliser for the duration of the activities. It combines both food and non-food plants, along with the right micro-organisms and animals needed to let an ecosystem suitable for this particular environment and climate thrive. Such a biodiverse system has a lot of benefits: as it has proven to be more productive, versatile and weather-resistant. Each species of plants that is planted brings its own unique benefits to the table. Some provide nitrogen-fixing for higher fertility; others soil carbon to feed micro-organisms and prevent erosion and retain water; fruit and vegetable plants are used to generate revenue and lure animals, who are capable of pollinating and cycling nutrients. Taller, leafier plant species are great at providing much needed shade. Each species has its own role to play in the ‘larger whole’. This system forms the backbone of regenerative agriculture, where agriculture does not directly interfere with the quality of land - or if it does, only serves to improve the quality of the land. And although agriculture will always remain a man-managed process, the principles of ecological succession can be ‘planned’, just to use another management term.   Through careful analysis of similar ecosystems, the sequence of plant species could be duplicated - the same way that the ecosystem would restore itself after a wildfire, if left to its own devices. Only after truly ‘understanding’ Mother Nature’s ways will it be possible to mimic her ways of creating fertile land; particularly when it comes to land that has previously been exhausted and consequently abandoned. One of the most important activities in regenerative agriculture is constant pruning. It may seem redundant, but the importance of frequently grooming the plants cannot be overstated. Through pruning, the amount of soil carbon will increase; while more sun will be able to reach lower plants. Sometimes it really is as simple as listening to the nature and taking good care of her. In order to do so, a crucial element is needed: freshwater, unfortunately a resource that is becoming increasingly scarce. It currently makes up some 2.5% of the total water supply on our planet; while we - and in particular, the agricultural sector - need more and more of it. As this seems inherently incongruent, it would be valuable to explore ways of, indeed, regenerating water. What if we could use, say, sea water for agricultural purposes instead? It would guarantee sufficient water for agriculture while not depleting the freshwater supply. This too is a part of regenerative agriculture, finding ways of growing crops using alternative sources of water. With the world’s population projected to increase exponentially in decades to come, even the most conservative estimates foresee an uptake in food demand of up to 60% compared to the current day. We simply cannot figure this out without discounting the need for new water sources. There are actually some plant and animal species that really do well in a saltwater environment. Now it could be as simple as creating specialised (shell)fish or saltwater crops farms in coastal areas. Although it can also be taken to a whole new level, for instance by using it in a desert area. Take Carl Hodges, a physicist who turned a large area of Eritrean desert into a thriving oasis. He focused on various activities that did well using seawater, and figured out the optimal flow of water - to ensure that each activity would get the most suitable water. Long story short, the seawater was first used for his shrimp and prawn-growing farms; after which that water was re-used for a tilapia farm (where the tilapia would partially serve as feed for the shrimp, talking about the circle of life). After that, water would flow to a salicornia plantation and run through a mangrove forest. Eventually it would flow to a wetland. Each of those stages came with specific species that would thrive using such water in such an environment - which explains why Hodges’ farm was a success.   Eventually, that is always what it is about. Success, preferably measured in money or time saved. The more industrialised approach has been adequate in the past, enabling neat monoculture rows powered by chemicals to produce plenty of food in as little time as possible. Yet the number of chemicals needed to sustain the increasing demand is rising sharply, just as we are fully starting to recognise the damage that those materials are causing to the environment, degrading ecosystems and - with it - the fertility and diversity of land.   Regenerative agriculture does also promise similarly high yields in an equally short time; but without those negative side effects. This focus on both profit and planet gives it a tremendous potential for not only transforming, but also revolutionising the agricultural industry. There are numerous examples of farmers who have already successfully employed this set of techniques to come out on top, with yields and profits searing.   Yet the other benefits should not be discounted either. After all, it is a systemic solution that will boost ecosystems, increase resilience, and help fight climate change . And while some may argue that it will be inherently harder to implement such a radical idea, the fact that it tackles so many issues at once should just about make it worth it. I will not try to pretend that it will be easy to implement on a larger scale, in order to let it reach its full potential. Regenerative agriculture thrives on natural processes, and these can be somewhat tedious. In order to help the soil contain a sufficient amount of microbes, one will have to wait several seasons for it to evolve. It may even take up to (several) decades before the land is truly ready to live up to its full potential. At the same time, this process will require not only a radically different style of working - mindset, if you wish -; it may also require new equipment and devices, as well as an in-depth knowledge of the new processes. This is where the government and financial industry comes in. Through their support, some of the risks associated with this transformation can be mitigated. This includes the offering of subsidies, special insurances, training and other incentives that will make the switch more appealing. Simultaneously, new monitoring systems and checks will have to be installed that are capable of gauging the current status of the process. It is important to verify whether a farm is indeed on the right track, or needs more adjusting in order to fully ‘tune in’ to its surrounding ecosystem. At the same time, this can be looked upon as another major opportunity for the market, as more tools will have to be developed that are suitable for regenerative agriculture. There is a huge ‘blue ocean’ out there in the market, that may be easy to jump into. One simply has to understand the importance - and be ingrained with a deep appreciation of - the proven connection between growing healthy food in a healthy ecosystem, clean air and clean water, overall human well-being, and more resilience in surrounding communities that depend on those farms for their livelihood. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/agri-gardening
Once upon a time, the majority of land on our planet was covered with trees and forests. Undoubtedly a gorgeous view - and a perfect habitat for many of the plant and animal species that live on our planet. Unfortunately the number of forests have dwindled significantly over the past decades, most notably as the result of the ever increasing use of forestland for agricultural purposes. After having served its purpose, the land will once again be abandoned and quite literally left to waste. Agriculture our food source Back in the pre-industrial age, estimates were that some 5.9 billion hectares of our planet’s surface was covered by forest. This number has decreased significantly, down to a mere 4 billion hectare (still making up 31% of the world’s land surface) in recent years. And the rate with which it is declining is alarming: an area roughly the size of Greece goes to waste every year, putting more and more treasured land at risk.   Especially now that the world population seems to be booming, we need more space - both for living and for growing our food - and the forest seems the most logical place to take it away from. Only now are we starting to realise that this logical choice has definitely not been the cleverest one: trees have rightfully earned their spot as ‘lungs of the world’, capable of absorbing CO2 and emitting oxygen. At this time, they are the best medicine against global warming that we’ve got. Simultaneously, we have resorted to using land as a disposable product. Once it has been plundered for its use in agriculture, we leave it to be and move on to the next piece. Eventually, this will exhaust our most important food source, passing on an enormous problem to future mankind. Regenerative agriculture, agrofostry, biodiversity Enter agroforestry, another example of regenerative agriculture; a topic that I already dedicated two articles to. Regenerative agriculture is a set of systems that focus on providing plants with the proper micro-climatic conditions and ecosystem to thrive, rather than just with water, soil and fertiliser for the duration of the activities. It combines both food and non-food plants, along with the right micro-organisms and animals needed to let an ecosystem suitable for this particular environment and climate thrive. Such a biodiverse system has a lot of benefits: as it has proven to be more productive, versatile and weather-resistant. Each species of plants that is planted brings its own unique benefits to the table. Some provide nitrogen-fixing for higher fertility; others soil carbon to feed micro-organisms and prevent erosion and retain water; fruit and vegetable plants are used to generate revenue and lure animals, who are capable of pollinating and cycling nutrients. Taller, leafier plant species are great at providing much needed shade. Each species has its own role to play in the ‘larger whole’. This system forms the backbone of regenerative agriculture, where agriculture does not directly interfere with the quality of land - or if it does, only serves to improve the quality of the land. And although agriculture will always remain a man-managed process, the principles of ecological succession can be ‘planned’, just to use another management term.   Through careful analysis of similar ecosystems, the sequence of plant species could be duplicated - the same way that the ecosystem would restore itself after a wildfire, if left to its own devices. Only after truly ‘understanding’ Mother Nature’s ways will it be possible to mimic her ways of creating fertile land; particularly when it comes to land that has previously been exhausted and consequently abandoned. One of the most important activities in regenerative agriculture is constant pruning. It may seem redundant, but the importance of frequently grooming the plants cannot be overstated. Through pruning, the amount of soil carbon will increase; while more sun will be able to reach lower plants. Sometimes it really is as simple as listening to the nature and taking good care of her. In order to do so, a crucial element is needed: freshwater, unfortunately a resource that is becoming increasingly scarce. It currently makes up some 2.5% of the total water supply on our planet; while we - and in particular, the agricultural sector - need more and more of it. As this seems inherently incongruent, it would be valuable to explore ways of, indeed, regenerating water. What if we could use, say, sea water for agricultural purposes instead? It would guarantee sufficient water for agriculture while not depleting the freshwater supply. This too is a part of regenerative agriculture, finding ways of growing crops using alternative sources of water. With the world’s population projected to increase exponentially in decades to come, even the most conservative estimates foresee an uptake in food demand of up to 60% compared to the current day. We simply cannot figure this out without discounting the need for new water sources. There are actually some plant and animal species that really do well in a saltwater environment. Now it could be as simple as creating specialised (shell)fish or saltwater crops farms in coastal areas. Although it can also be taken to a whole new level, for instance by using it in a desert area. Take Carl Hodges, a physicist who turned a large area of Eritrean desert into a thriving oasis. He focused on various activities that did well using seawater, and figured out the optimal flow of water - to ensure that each activity would get the most suitable water. Long story short, the seawater was first used for his shrimp and prawn-growing farms; after which that water was re-used for a tilapia farm (where the tilapia would partially serve as feed for the shrimp, talking about the circle of life). After that, water would flow to a salicornia plantation and run through a mangrove forest. Eventually it would flow to a wetland. Each of those stages came with specific species that would thrive using such water in such an environment - which explains why Hodges’ farm was a success.   Eventually, that is always what it is about. Success, preferably measured in money or time saved. The more industrialised approach has been adequate in the past, enabling neat monoculture rows powered by chemicals to produce plenty of food in as little time as possible. Yet the number of chemicals needed to sustain the increasing demand is rising sharply, just as we are fully starting to recognise the damage that those materials are causing to the environment, degrading ecosystems and - with it - the fertility and diversity of land.   Regenerative agriculture does also promise similarly high yields in an equally short time; but without those negative side effects. This focus on both profit and planet gives it a tremendous potential for not only transforming, but also revolutionising the agricultural industry. There are numerous examples of farmers who have already successfully employed this set of techniques to come out on top, with yields and profits searing.   Yet the other benefits should not be discounted either. After all, it is a systemic solution that will boost ecosystems, increase resilience, and help fight climate change . And while some may argue that it will be inherently harder to implement such a radical idea, the fact that it tackles so many issues at once should just about make it worth it. I will not try to pretend that it will be easy to implement on a larger scale, in order to let it reach its full potential. Regenerative agriculture thrives on natural processes, and these can be somewhat tedious. In order to help the soil contain a sufficient amount of microbes, one will have to wait several seasons for it to evolve. It may even take up to (several) decades before the land is truly ready to live up to its full potential. At the same time, this process will require not only a radically different style of working - mindset, if you wish -; it may also require new equipment and devices, as well as an in-depth knowledge of the new processes. This is where the government and financial industry comes in. Through their support, some of the risks associated with this transformation can be mitigated. This includes the offering of subsidies, special insurances, training and other incentives that will make the switch more appealing. Simultaneously, new monitoring systems and checks will have to be installed that are capable of gauging the current status of the process. It is important to verify whether a farm is indeed on the right track, or needs more adjusting in order to fully ‘tune in’ to its surrounding ecosystem. At the same time, this can be looked upon as another major opportunity for the market, as more tools will have to be developed that are suitable for regenerative agriculture. There is a huge ‘blue ocean’ out there in the market, that may be easy to jump into. One simply has to understand the importance - and be ingrained with a deep appreciation of - the proven connection between growing healthy food in a healthy ecosystem, clean air and clean water, overall human well-being, and more resilience in surrounding communities that depend on those farms for their livelihood. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/agri-gardening
Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3 of 3)
Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3 of 3)
Smarter Technology In Agriculture Will Feed The Planet
Starvation and malnutrition affect approximately 821 million people around the world, according to the World Health Organization's data. Every year, 1.6 trillion tons of food are wasted or thrown away. Food loss costs $1.2 trillion a year. One-third of global food production is thrown away. The technological revolution in agriculture leads to higher yields and less waste Why is so much food wasted? Poor or outdated production techniques are the leading causes. Already 500 million tons of food are wasted per year or lost in the production stage. The increasing climate change does not help either, nor does the growing world population. This could eventually lead to a food crisis, and it is crucial to act upon this. New agricultural techniques offer a solution, as this is the road to a better future. A future in which farmers can both improve their yields, increase their drive and reduce waste. Artificial intelligence, data analysis and even drones are among the solutions that will shape the future of agriculture. This will be smarter, more efficient and better for the planet. Precision agriculture Agriculture is often associated with a rural way of life, but the vision on this topic seems to be shifting. Companies such as Google help farmers improve their yields and optimise production through artificial intelligence. A new type of agriculture is on the rise. Precise agriculture emerged in the 1990s, but now precision agriculture wants to use ultramodern technologies to make the production of crops more accurate and to control it. By using GIS (Geographic Information System), farmers can, for example, view their crops through heat maps, in which red indicates dead fields and green indicates healthy ones. Green fields require more fertilisation and insecticides, and on red areas, farmers do not have to waste their products any more. Since the 1990s, precision agriculture has grown exponentially. Hundreds of precision farms have developed and use drones and other robots. Farmers now have insight into where each seed is planted. This allows them to fertilise their crops with almost perfect accuracy, which was not possible when precision farming was just born. The future of agriculture lies in real-time responses, as more and more agriculture tech companies compete to provide all-in-one platforms with insights and prescriptions on the go. By using smart technologies, such as loT sensors (which measure light, humidity, temperature, soil moisture, etc.), agriculture will be able to overcome some of its most urgent challenges. For example, they can meet the needs of the world's population to cope with a changing climate, all while reducing destructive food wastage. Improved aerial imaging As precision agriculture expands, the demand for drones will increase. It is no surprise that drones will play a significant role in making agriculture more efficient and cost-effective. Drones in agriculture can do so much, like the drone-based planting system. Thanks to their remarkable accuracy, planting costs can be reduced by 85 per cent, according to PwC. Using GPS, the drones can water plants with unparalleled precision, reducing pesticide use by as much as 30 per cent. Satellite images were once seen as game-changing technology but faded with the qualities of a drone. Drones have a higher resolution than satellite images . Drones offer more results when we look at a sustainable future for agriculture. New Business Models The shift towards precision agriculture will bring necessary changes to supply chains. A new type of retailer focused on innovative technologies will emerge. A new kind of e-commerce focused on agriculture, will also change the way crops are grown, making it easier for farmers to buy much at once online. The shift to this digital era still brings some challenges. Trust will be key, as farmers strive to purchase products from suppliers with years of expertise in this sector. Traditional agricultural retailers can significantly benefit from entering this commercial market. With their deep-rooted knowledge and experience in this sector, they are unique to the digital transition of agriculture. Although the demand for digital solutions is high and still rising, there are many steps to be taken before precision agriculture is widely used and can have its most significant impact. The steps depend on farmers, technology development and the retail chain. However, these challenges are pale compared to the severe consequences of not applying the technology, severe implications for the well-being of both agriculture and the planet. It may sound incongruous: farming and high-tech, but together they provide better yields, less waste and greater ecological sustainability. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/waste/general  
Starvation and malnutrition affect approximately 821 million people around the world, according to the World Health Organization's data. Every year, 1.6 trillion tons of food are wasted or thrown away. Food loss costs $1.2 trillion a year. One-third of global food production is thrown away. The technological revolution in agriculture leads to higher yields and less waste Why is so much food wasted? Poor or outdated production techniques are the leading causes. Already 500 million tons of food are wasted per year or lost in the production stage. The increasing climate change does not help either, nor does the growing world population. This could eventually lead to a food crisis, and it is crucial to act upon this. New agricultural techniques offer a solution, as this is the road to a better future. A future in which farmers can both improve their yields, increase their drive and reduce waste. Artificial intelligence, data analysis and even drones are among the solutions that will shape the future of agriculture. This will be smarter, more efficient and better for the planet. Precision agriculture Agriculture is often associated with a rural way of life, but the vision on this topic seems to be shifting. Companies such as Google help farmers improve their yields and optimise production through artificial intelligence. A new type of agriculture is on the rise. Precise agriculture emerged in the 1990s, but now precision agriculture wants to use ultramodern technologies to make the production of crops more accurate and to control it. By using GIS (Geographic Information System), farmers can, for example, view their crops through heat maps, in which red indicates dead fields and green indicates healthy ones. Green fields require more fertilisation and insecticides, and on red areas, farmers do not have to waste their products any more. Since the 1990s, precision agriculture has grown exponentially. Hundreds of precision farms have developed and use drones and other robots. Farmers now have insight into where each seed is planted. This allows them to fertilise their crops with almost perfect accuracy, which was not possible when precision farming was just born. The future of agriculture lies in real-time responses, as more and more agriculture tech companies compete to provide all-in-one platforms with insights and prescriptions on the go. By using smart technologies, such as loT sensors (which measure light, humidity, temperature, soil moisture, etc.), agriculture will be able to overcome some of its most urgent challenges. For example, they can meet the needs of the world's population to cope with a changing climate, all while reducing destructive food wastage. Improved aerial imaging As precision agriculture expands, the demand for drones will increase. It is no surprise that drones will play a significant role in making agriculture more efficient and cost-effective. Drones in agriculture can do so much, like the drone-based planting system. Thanks to their remarkable accuracy, planting costs can be reduced by 85 per cent, according to PwC. Using GPS, the drones can water plants with unparalleled precision, reducing pesticide use by as much as 30 per cent. Satellite images were once seen as game-changing technology but faded with the qualities of a drone. Drones have a higher resolution than satellite images . Drones offer more results when we look at a sustainable future for agriculture. New Business Models The shift towards precision agriculture will bring necessary changes to supply chains. A new type of retailer focused on innovative technologies will emerge. A new kind of e-commerce focused on agriculture, will also change the way crops are grown, making it easier for farmers to buy much at once online. The shift to this digital era still brings some challenges. Trust will be key, as farmers strive to purchase products from suppliers with years of expertise in this sector. Traditional agricultural retailers can significantly benefit from entering this commercial market. With their deep-rooted knowledge and experience in this sector, they are unique to the digital transition of agriculture. Although the demand for digital solutions is high and still rising, there are many steps to be taken before precision agriculture is widely used and can have its most significant impact. The steps depend on farmers, technology development and the retail chain. However, these challenges are pale compared to the severe consequences of not applying the technology, severe implications for the well-being of both agriculture and the planet. It may sound incongruous: farming and high-tech, but together they provide better yields, less waste and greater ecological sustainability. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/waste/general  
Smarter Technology In Agriculture Will Feed The Planet
Smarter Technology In Agriculture Will Feed The Planet
Regenerative Farming: Agro-Ecology In Practice (Part 2 of 3)
In my previous article on regenerative agriculture, I reflected on the need for agriculture to become more regenerative. That is to say, for agriculture to find a way of ‘erasing its footprint’ and becoming a part of the ecosystem rather than degrading it by exhausting the land and its natural resources.   A truly regenerative mini-farm: Vietnam Some have referred to this practice as agro-ecology, or putting the science regarding ecology to good use by finding new and sustainable agricultural methods. This does not only apply to the ‘traditional’ agriculture of harvesting the land and tending to the crops; it also extends to livestock, poultry farming and - in one particularly fascinating example - domestic agriculture. The latter is actually the most convincing argument thus far when it comes to the applicability and benefits of regenerative farming. In Vietnam, people tend to enjoy their ‘Vuon Ao Chuong’, or garden, fishpond and pig or poultry shed in one. This pretty much encompasses their agricultural activities: working in their garden while taking care of their fishpond and tending to their pig or poultry shed. These activities are combined in a prime example of regenerative farming, whereby domestic agriculture is taken to new levels of productivity and intensity. Natural ecological processes are honoured while the various plant and animal species are cultivated in a relatively small area, where they are intertwined with one another. Each element of the Vuon Ao Chuong plays its own unique role in creating a truly regenerative mini-farm. What is even more interesting, is the versatility of this model to fit various different ecosystems. While the model was originally designed for a specific area in the north of Vietnam, bordering the Red River, it has since been adapted to be suitable for the coastal areas, river deltas, and mountainous regions as well. Although the mix of specific plant and animal species may differ for those ecosystems, the basic principle remains unchanged: honouring Mother Nature by nurturing the existing ecosystem, in doing so enhancing diversity and encouraging interspecies interaction. For each ecosystem, there is a 'sweet spot' Although the term symbiosis might sound too pretentious to describe what has been going on here, I am afraid it is the one that best fits this process. For each ecosystem, there is a ‘sweet spot’, a combination of plant and animal species that thrive when combined thoughtfully. Regardless of the climate, altitude, land type, environment and social status of a specific area, there will be an equilibrium. After all, that is how Mother Nature designed it. A process that has endured similarly rigorous time-testing will be hard to find. The Vuon Ao Chuong is not a secret confined to the borders of Vietnam. Its basic idea has spread across the region, with the Japanese seeing substantial increases in productivity after combining duck and rice farming. In Southern China, the mulberries-fish pond model has taken off - apparently a ‘golden combo’ as well. Zero budget Yet perhaps the most remarkable feat is that most of those solutions require virtually zero budget - a nicety for the domestic agriculturist, but a must for agricultural companies. This point was recognised by Subhash Palekar, who was looking to create a better working environment for his fellow farmers in the south of India, and came up with Zero Budget Natural Farming methods. He recognised that the majority of the world’s food supply (almost 70%) is produced by the so-called smallholder farmers. At the same time, this group only uses 30% of the resources. A precarious position: these are the farmers that have to produce more using less. Often, those smallholder farmers can be found in some of the poorest areas of the world, where they are battling the world’s harshest conditions in their attempt to feed all the hungry mouths around them. Through Zero Budget Natural Farming initiatives, a stable food supply can be guaranteed while minimising financial dependencies - such as the loans smallholder farmers often take out to make ends meet. Fertilisers, seeds, and other farming supplies are expensive. And when you are quite literally putting all of your eggs in one basket, risks are enormous. All it takes is one monsoon, one tornado, one tsunami, or one pest to completely destroy all of your crops - leaving you in a crippled financial state.   Increased resilience against the effects of climate change Regenerative agriculture might have the power to change this - as it encompasses plenty of Zero Budget Natural Farming methods. It will cut back the number of costly resources needed, while resulting in more nutritious food, higher yields, and increased resilience against the effects of climate change. This is accomplished using several basic principles, including the creation of more fertile soil through the addition of microbes; the prevention of crop diseases through natural means; the protection and enhancement of topsoil; and more efficient use of water. The bigger question at hand is whether those principles can also be applied to larger agricultural companies. In other words, can regenerative farming - or agro-ecology - be scaled up to work for much larger farms? Most will argue that this will indeed be possible, as the four principles given above will be applicable, regardless of the farm’s size. Theoretically, one could take a piece of land that has been worn out and degraded; effectively thrown into a biodiversity crisis of sorts. Then, following the principles of regenerative agriculture, the next step would be to revitalise the area. This is to say, to stabilise first - through contouring, terracing and planting; followed by the restoration of fertility and soil structure; and finally implementing a natural production regime. The farm will have to become a part in its surrounding ecosystem, leaving room for ‘wild’ areas where nature and all of its inhabitants can thrive. Combined with a diverse and well-thought out planting plan, this should be key to a thriving agro-ecology area. Only plants and animals that work well together should be included, ones that are native to the area and suitable for the time of year. For instance, some finer grains do better in the winter - including wheat, barley and oats -, while thicker grains are preferred in the summer, such as soya and quinoa. Some low maintenance cover crops like peas and radish can serve as insurance for soil fertility. Livestock can help to fertilise the land and create a thriving ecosystem.   All of this will increase the yield, while guaranteeing a diverse diet for those dependant upon it. If so desired, there could even be an additional element added to the farm, alongside the crops and livestock - such as a fishpond, vineyard, orchard or chickens. This is something that can unquestionably be duplicated on a larger scale: entrepreneur Doug Tompkins describes it as “multiple farms layered onto one property”.   All of those sub-farms are linked together and feed off each other, mutually strengthening both the farm and the surrounding ecosystem. An ideal scenario, where farms see increased yields and where ecosystems are built up rather than destroyed. In the past, too much valuable nature has gone to waste as the result of the continuously expanding consumerism in agriculture. This includes savannahs, jungles, and forests - home to many endangered plant and animal species that, as a result, have found themselves in a rather tough spot, balancing on the brink of extinction. And once the land served its purpose, it was just as easily discarded and quite literally left to waste. There are dozens of examples of pieces of land that have already successfully undergone the regeneration process. Like the Loess Plateau in China, where 4 million hectares of overgrazed land has been restored, creating both jobs and livelihood for over 2.5 million people and a rich and ecologically diverse area. Or the farmers who used regeneration methods to create a thriving, biodiverse forest in the Sahel area in Africa.   Now we have a chance of revitalising and, indeed, regenerating those previously discarded wastelands. For a world with a greater diversity of ecosystems; and for a world where we will be able to produce healthy, diverse food in harmony with nature.   Part 2 of 3 of a series on Regenerative Agriculture. Part 3 will be uploaded on June 17. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/agri-gardening
In my previous article on regenerative agriculture, I reflected on the need for agriculture to become more regenerative. That is to say, for agriculture to find a way of ‘erasing its footprint’ and becoming a part of the ecosystem rather than degrading it by exhausting the land and its natural resources.   A truly regenerative mini-farm: Vietnam Some have referred to this practice as agro-ecology, or putting the science regarding ecology to good use by finding new and sustainable agricultural methods. This does not only apply to the ‘traditional’ agriculture of harvesting the land and tending to the crops; it also extends to livestock, poultry farming and - in one particularly fascinating example - domestic agriculture. The latter is actually the most convincing argument thus far when it comes to the applicability and benefits of regenerative farming. In Vietnam, people tend to enjoy their ‘Vuon Ao Chuong’, or garden, fishpond and pig or poultry shed in one. This pretty much encompasses their agricultural activities: working in their garden while taking care of their fishpond and tending to their pig or poultry shed. These activities are combined in a prime example of regenerative farming, whereby domestic agriculture is taken to new levels of productivity and intensity. Natural ecological processes are honoured while the various plant and animal species are cultivated in a relatively small area, where they are intertwined with one another. Each element of the Vuon Ao Chuong plays its own unique role in creating a truly regenerative mini-farm. What is even more interesting, is the versatility of this model to fit various different ecosystems. While the model was originally designed for a specific area in the north of Vietnam, bordering the Red River, it has since been adapted to be suitable for the coastal areas, river deltas, and mountainous regions as well. Although the mix of specific plant and animal species may differ for those ecosystems, the basic principle remains unchanged: honouring Mother Nature by nurturing the existing ecosystem, in doing so enhancing diversity and encouraging interspecies interaction. For each ecosystem, there is a 'sweet spot' Although the term symbiosis might sound too pretentious to describe what has been going on here, I am afraid it is the one that best fits this process. For each ecosystem, there is a ‘sweet spot’, a combination of plant and animal species that thrive when combined thoughtfully. Regardless of the climate, altitude, land type, environment and social status of a specific area, there will be an equilibrium. After all, that is how Mother Nature designed it. A process that has endured similarly rigorous time-testing will be hard to find. The Vuon Ao Chuong is not a secret confined to the borders of Vietnam. Its basic idea has spread across the region, with the Japanese seeing substantial increases in productivity after combining duck and rice farming. In Southern China, the mulberries-fish pond model has taken off - apparently a ‘golden combo’ as well. Zero budget Yet perhaps the most remarkable feat is that most of those solutions require virtually zero budget - a nicety for the domestic agriculturist, but a must for agricultural companies. This point was recognised by Subhash Palekar, who was looking to create a better working environment for his fellow farmers in the south of India, and came up with Zero Budget Natural Farming methods. He recognised that the majority of the world’s food supply (almost 70%) is produced by the so-called smallholder farmers. At the same time, this group only uses 30% of the resources. A precarious position: these are the farmers that have to produce more using less. Often, those smallholder farmers can be found in some of the poorest areas of the world, where they are battling the world’s harshest conditions in their attempt to feed all the hungry mouths around them. Through Zero Budget Natural Farming initiatives, a stable food supply can be guaranteed while minimising financial dependencies - such as the loans smallholder farmers often take out to make ends meet. Fertilisers, seeds, and other farming supplies are expensive. And when you are quite literally putting all of your eggs in one basket, risks are enormous. All it takes is one monsoon, one tornado, one tsunami, or one pest to completely destroy all of your crops - leaving you in a crippled financial state.   Increased resilience against the effects of climate change Regenerative agriculture might have the power to change this - as it encompasses plenty of Zero Budget Natural Farming methods. It will cut back the number of costly resources needed, while resulting in more nutritious food, higher yields, and increased resilience against the effects of climate change. This is accomplished using several basic principles, including the creation of more fertile soil through the addition of microbes; the prevention of crop diseases through natural means; the protection and enhancement of topsoil; and more efficient use of water. The bigger question at hand is whether those principles can also be applied to larger agricultural companies. In other words, can regenerative farming - or agro-ecology - be scaled up to work for much larger farms? Most will argue that this will indeed be possible, as the four principles given above will be applicable, regardless of the farm’s size. Theoretically, one could take a piece of land that has been worn out and degraded; effectively thrown into a biodiversity crisis of sorts. Then, following the principles of regenerative agriculture, the next step would be to revitalise the area. This is to say, to stabilise first - through contouring, terracing and planting; followed by the restoration of fertility and soil structure; and finally implementing a natural production regime. The farm will have to become a part in its surrounding ecosystem, leaving room for ‘wild’ areas where nature and all of its inhabitants can thrive. Combined with a diverse and well-thought out planting plan, this should be key to a thriving agro-ecology area. Only plants and animals that work well together should be included, ones that are native to the area and suitable for the time of year. For instance, some finer grains do better in the winter - including wheat, barley and oats -, while thicker grains are preferred in the summer, such as soya and quinoa. Some low maintenance cover crops like peas and radish can serve as insurance for soil fertility. Livestock can help to fertilise the land and create a thriving ecosystem.   All of this will increase the yield, while guaranteeing a diverse diet for those dependant upon it. If so desired, there could even be an additional element added to the farm, alongside the crops and livestock - such as a fishpond, vineyard, orchard or chickens. This is something that can unquestionably be duplicated on a larger scale: entrepreneur Doug Tompkins describes it as “multiple farms layered onto one property”.   All of those sub-farms are linked together and feed off each other, mutually strengthening both the farm and the surrounding ecosystem. An ideal scenario, where farms see increased yields and where ecosystems are built up rather than destroyed. In the past, too much valuable nature has gone to waste as the result of the continuously expanding consumerism in agriculture. This includes savannahs, jungles, and forests - home to many endangered plant and animal species that, as a result, have found themselves in a rather tough spot, balancing on the brink of extinction. And once the land served its purpose, it was just as easily discarded and quite literally left to waste. There are dozens of examples of pieces of land that have already successfully undergone the regeneration process. Like the Loess Plateau in China, where 4 million hectares of overgrazed land has been restored, creating both jobs and livelihood for over 2.5 million people and a rich and ecologically diverse area. Or the farmers who used regeneration methods to create a thriving, biodiverse forest in the Sahel area in Africa.   Now we have a chance of revitalising and, indeed, regenerating those previously discarded wastelands. For a world with a greater diversity of ecosystems; and for a world where we will be able to produce healthy, diverse food in harmony with nature.   Part 2 of 3 of a series on Regenerative Agriculture. Part 3 will be uploaded on June 17. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/agri-gardening
Regenerative Farming: Agro-Ecology In Practice (Part 2 of 3)
Regenerative Farming: Agro-Ecology In Practice (Part 2 of 3)
Regenerative Agriculture: Basics For Safe Food (Part 1 of 3)
Agriculture has been around as long as mankind. In the earliest days of humanity, an important part of the day was spent hunting for food - whether by chasing after animals, by foraging for nuts and fruits, or by working on the land. From the Stone Age to the Middle Ages, right up to the Industrial Age and our current time. As we evolved, so did agriculture - yet its role remained unchanged: feeding those who depend on it for their daily meal. Exploiting valuable natural areas in order to turn it into farmland Another fact is that the world population has grown significantly: only 200 years ago, there were fewer than one billion humans alive. Today, we share our planet with over 7 billion others. And as space hasn’t increased significantly - you could argue that it has even been reduced, considering the extra land taken up by our cities and industrial areas -, the challenge seems obvious. There are many more mouths to feed, yet we have to do so using fewer resources and smaller areas of land. Of course there are some who would say that we ought to be, in fact, delivering by 'creating' more space and resources. This has actually been a common practice in recent decades, with eager producers exploiting valuable natural areas in order to turn it into farmland; or using up some of our earth’s most precious commodities in order to provide the energy and raw materials needed to live up to the skyrocketing demand. While many of us would be condemning those kind of practices today - hindsight is 20/20 -, there are all too many examples of similar practices long before that. Some innovations might, at the time of their introduction, have been considered groundbreaking and a huge leap forward. Yet looking back with today’s knowledge, they would not even be considered a feasible option because of the inherent and often disastrous consequences. Safe food Through artificial crops, advanced fertilisation methods and many other sophisticated techniques, it became possible to substantially ramp up food production. Through the multiplication of livestock, production of high yield and resilient crops, and smart techniques for fertilising and harvesting crops, production reached unparalleled heights.   Yet it is not only about increasing production: increasing food safety and ensuring accountability throughout the supply chain have been moving to the forefront as well. This newfound abundance of 'safe' food might just be a scam. Yes, we are delivering more while seemingly using less. But at what additional cost? The negative impacts of quick-gain practices are slowly but surely becoming painfully obvious. Not only does the ruthless exploitation of vast areas of land leave them plundered and abandoned, having irreversibly harmed the local ecosystem; there’s also matters like atmospheric pollution, choking waterways, antibiotic crises, pesticide disasters, and dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. Estimates have put the cost of agriculture to society staggeringly high, potentially reaching some $6 trillion by 2050. So let’s rewind a bit: is this really worth it? Does the end really justify the means?   At its core, the problem can be found in the business-like attitude of farms. Farms feel the pressure to deliver and meet demand, hence forcing them to start thinking and acting like a corporate machine. Profits will be put before anything else, with automation and innovation following suit.   The big issue with this? Agriculture , in contrast with other industries, is dealing directly with nature. While many things can be automated and forecasted, this decidedly does not apply to animals. To the insects that pollinate the crops; to the weather events that might damage or destroy the harvest; to the water on the surface and in the ground that is used to irrigate; or to the soil that is needed to provide a fertile environment for crops. All of those things just will not let themselves be automated, or made subject to linear production processes. Although we are often too tempted by greed to let this stop us from trying to do so - which is exactly what resulted in the negative consequences listed above. An area that is roughly the size of England is left to waste every year, requiring us to look further and start exploiting valuable savannah or rainforest lands in order to take its place. We try to take ‘more’ from the earth, resources and animals then they realistically have to offer - with all that this implies. Regenerative agriculture {youtube} Enter regenerative agriculture. This new school of thought within agriculture operates on the principle that we should recognise the complexity and resilience of the world’s ‘natural technology’. Basically, it means that we move to a food system that respects our nature’s ability to regenerate and produce rich, unique and fertile natural environments, as it has done for centuries before we came around. In an ideal world, this would feed the growing world population with an equally rich diet that thrives on variety and freshness. While doing so, it ought to find a way through which ecosystems are rebuilt and thriving in the process. Not only does this go a long way in combatting the degradation of ecosystems, it also holds the potential to counter climate change. Although some may consider it to be unrealistic and radical, it is actually nothing new. It goes right back to the way our ancestors harvested the land, based on a near-scientific understanding of the earth’s needs and limits. Soil, water, farms and animals are all working together to create a rich ecosystem. For once, farms do not take the lead, trying to manage and manipulate the other elements - they will be an active part of the ecosystem. A farm will not just ‘withdraw’ from nature as if it were an ATM, but rather it gives back and feeds into it as well. Make no mistake: this will be complicated. As there are so many different ecosystems, the exact way of dealing with each environment will differ. Geologist David Montgomery put it as follows: “ What works for temperate grasslands may not work so well in tropical forests. We need to tailor practices to the land and be mindful of the geographical and social context .” It will be a process that requires thought and science, along with an inherent respect for flora and fauna. This does not make it impossible. Some elements of it are already in use. For instance, the use of livestock to graze grassy farmlands has already been accepted as a sensible practice. Through their eating, walking and disposing of waste, they ‘feed’ the grasslands and fertilise the soil. Using techniques like ‘rotational grazing’, livestock and poultry are used as an active player in guarding the health of the farm and environment as a whole. Photo by: Peter Bergquist On the top of the hill, on the leveller ground, this farmer is rotating, corn, oats, and alfalfa in 60’ contoured strips. This proven crop rotation practice will build soils, produce good yields, limit erosion, limit required inputs, produce grain for sale and forage for winter feeding of livestock.  The steeper land below the perimeter electric fence is in permanent pasture and being rotationally grazed. Each day this farmer moves poly wire electric fencing to create a new paddock big enough to feed his animals for 24 hours. He also moves a small water tank and a Shade Haven portable shade structure . The concept seems clear: regenerative agriculture will help us to find a new way of producing the food we so direly need, while respecting the world around us. That balance between not exhausting natural resources and still getting the food that we need is crucial - that is, if we are hoping to have a planet left to eat our meticulously produced food on. Part 1 of 3 of a series on Regenerative Agriculture. Part 2 will be uploaded on May 23. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/agri-gardening
Agriculture has been around as long as mankind. In the earliest days of humanity, an important part of the day was spent hunting for food - whether by chasing after animals, by foraging for nuts and fruits, or by working on the land. From the Stone Age to the Middle Ages, right up to the Industrial Age and our current time. As we evolved, so did agriculture - yet its role remained unchanged: feeding those who depend on it for their daily meal. Exploiting valuable natural areas in order to turn it into farmland Another fact is that the world population has grown significantly: only 200 years ago, there were fewer than one billion humans alive. Today, we share our planet with over 7 billion others. And as space hasn’t increased significantly - you could argue that it has even been reduced, considering the extra land taken up by our cities and industrial areas -, the challenge seems obvious. There are many more mouths to feed, yet we have to do so using fewer resources and smaller areas of land. Of course there are some who would say that we ought to be, in fact, delivering by 'creating' more space and resources. This has actually been a common practice in recent decades, with eager producers exploiting valuable natural areas in order to turn it into farmland; or using up some of our earth’s most precious commodities in order to provide the energy and raw materials needed to live up to the skyrocketing demand. While many of us would be condemning those kind of practices today - hindsight is 20/20 -, there are all too many examples of similar practices long before that. Some innovations might, at the time of their introduction, have been considered groundbreaking and a huge leap forward. Yet looking back with today’s knowledge, they would not even be considered a feasible option because of the inherent and often disastrous consequences. Safe food Through artificial crops, advanced fertilisation methods and many other sophisticated techniques, it became possible to substantially ramp up food production. Through the multiplication of livestock, production of high yield and resilient crops, and smart techniques for fertilising and harvesting crops, production reached unparalleled heights.   Yet it is not only about increasing production: increasing food safety and ensuring accountability throughout the supply chain have been moving to the forefront as well. This newfound abundance of 'safe' food might just be a scam. Yes, we are delivering more while seemingly using less. But at what additional cost? The negative impacts of quick-gain practices are slowly but surely becoming painfully obvious. Not only does the ruthless exploitation of vast areas of land leave them plundered and abandoned, having irreversibly harmed the local ecosystem; there’s also matters like atmospheric pollution, choking waterways, antibiotic crises, pesticide disasters, and dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. Estimates have put the cost of agriculture to society staggeringly high, potentially reaching some $6 trillion by 2050. So let’s rewind a bit: is this really worth it? Does the end really justify the means?   At its core, the problem can be found in the business-like attitude of farms. Farms feel the pressure to deliver and meet demand, hence forcing them to start thinking and acting like a corporate machine. Profits will be put before anything else, with automation and innovation following suit.   The big issue with this? Agriculture , in contrast with other industries, is dealing directly with nature. While many things can be automated and forecasted, this decidedly does not apply to animals. To the insects that pollinate the crops; to the weather events that might damage or destroy the harvest; to the water on the surface and in the ground that is used to irrigate; or to the soil that is needed to provide a fertile environment for crops. All of those things just will not let themselves be automated, or made subject to linear production processes. Although we are often too tempted by greed to let this stop us from trying to do so - which is exactly what resulted in the negative consequences listed above. An area that is roughly the size of England is left to waste every year, requiring us to look further and start exploiting valuable savannah or rainforest lands in order to take its place. We try to take ‘more’ from the earth, resources and animals then they realistically have to offer - with all that this implies. Regenerative agriculture {youtube} Enter regenerative agriculture. This new school of thought within agriculture operates on the principle that we should recognise the complexity and resilience of the world’s ‘natural technology’. Basically, it means that we move to a food system that respects our nature’s ability to regenerate and produce rich, unique and fertile natural environments, as it has done for centuries before we came around. In an ideal world, this would feed the growing world population with an equally rich diet that thrives on variety and freshness. While doing so, it ought to find a way through which ecosystems are rebuilt and thriving in the process. Not only does this go a long way in combatting the degradation of ecosystems, it also holds the potential to counter climate change. Although some may consider it to be unrealistic and radical, it is actually nothing new. It goes right back to the way our ancestors harvested the land, based on a near-scientific understanding of the earth’s needs and limits. Soil, water, farms and animals are all working together to create a rich ecosystem. For once, farms do not take the lead, trying to manage and manipulate the other elements - they will be an active part of the ecosystem. A farm will not just ‘withdraw’ from nature as if it were an ATM, but rather it gives back and feeds into it as well. Make no mistake: this will be complicated. As there are so many different ecosystems, the exact way of dealing with each environment will differ. Geologist David Montgomery put it as follows: “ What works for temperate grasslands may not work so well in tropical forests. We need to tailor practices to the land and be mindful of the geographical and social context .” It will be a process that requires thought and science, along with an inherent respect for flora and fauna. This does not make it impossible. Some elements of it are already in use. For instance, the use of livestock to graze grassy farmlands has already been accepted as a sensible practice. Through their eating, walking and disposing of waste, they ‘feed’ the grasslands and fertilise the soil. Using techniques like ‘rotational grazing’, livestock and poultry are used as an active player in guarding the health of the farm and environment as a whole. Photo by: Peter Bergquist On the top of the hill, on the leveller ground, this farmer is rotating, corn, oats, and alfalfa in 60’ contoured strips. This proven crop rotation practice will build soils, produce good yields, limit erosion, limit required inputs, produce grain for sale and forage for winter feeding of livestock.  The steeper land below the perimeter electric fence is in permanent pasture and being rotationally grazed. Each day this farmer moves poly wire electric fencing to create a new paddock big enough to feed his animals for 24 hours. He also moves a small water tank and a Shade Haven portable shade structure . The concept seems clear: regenerative agriculture will help us to find a new way of producing the food we so direly need, while respecting the world around us. That balance between not exhausting natural resources and still getting the food that we need is crucial - that is, if we are hoping to have a planet left to eat our meticulously produced food on. Part 1 of 3 of a series on Regenerative Agriculture. Part 2 will be uploaded on May 23. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/agri-gardening
Regenerative Agriculture: Basics For Safe Food (Part 1 of 3)
Regenerative Agriculture: Basics For Safe Food (Part 1 of 3)
Our Food System Under Threat By Decline In Biodiversity
According to an UN study, the future of our food system is in danger. That’s because the plants, animals and micro-organisms that are the bedrock of food production are in decline. If these critical species are lost, the report says, it "places the future of our food system under severe threat". Because of pollution, climate change and land-use changes, biodiversity is decreasing. How bad is this threat and what can we do about it? The UN report is the first such study of its kind, using date gathered in 91 countries by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It says. Biodiversity is the diversity of plants, animals and other organisms that provide us with food, fuel and fibre. It includes pollinators like bees, that provide essential services, and worms, mangroves, sea grasses and fungi which work to keep soils fertile and purify the air and water. Biodiversity in a  sustainable way Many of the species that support food and agriculture are under threat or declining. While species friendly policies are increasing, they are not growing quickly enough, scientists say. Around a thousand wild food species, mainly plants, fish and mammals are decreasing in abundance. "Biodiversity is critical for safeguarding global food security, underpinning healthy and nutritious diets, improving rural livelihoods, and enhancing the resilience of people and communities," said FAO's Director-General José Graziano da Silva. "We need to use biodiversity in a sustainable way, so that we can better respond to rising climate change challenges and produce food in a way that doesn't harm our environment." A smaller number of foodstuffs to feed a growing population According to the study, the world is relying on an ever smaller number of foodstuffs to feed a growing population that's expected to rise to around ten billion people by 2050. Of the 6,000 plant species cultivated for food, just nine account for 66% of total crop production. The world's livestock production is based on around 40 species with only a handful providing the vast majority of meat, milk and eggs. The scale of threat to food The lack of biodiversity can leave food production much more vulnerable to shocks, such as outbreaks of disease and pests. The new study highlights a number of examples where the loss of biodiversity is impacting people's lives and diets. The Gambia says that large losses of wild foods have forced communities to turn to industrially processed foods to supplement their diets. Several countries including Ireland, Norway, Poland and Switzerland report declines in bumblebees. In Oman, the loss of pollinator populations due to extreme heat associated with climate change has seen the decline of wild food, including figs and berries. There are several causes for biodiversity loss, such as pollution, population growth and urbanisation and climate change. Other significant drivers of biodiversity loss are overexploitation and overharvesting and changes in land and water use and management. How countries fix the decline The report highlights a number of what it terms "biodiversity friendly practices" that are on the rise. Some 80% of the countries reporting say that they follow one or more of these approaches. Some examples: in Argentina, some 560,000 home gardens and 12,000 school and community gardens have been created and are providing food for an estimated 2.8 million people. In California, farmers are now allowing their rice fields to be flooded after harvest instead of burning them, opening 111,000 hectares of surrogate wetlands and open space for 230 bird species. Farmers in Ghana are planting cassava plants on field margins which produce huge amounts of nectar, attracting bees and other species, leading to higher yields. While these are lauded, the problem according to the FAO is that these changes aren't happening quickly enough. "It is very positive to see that countries are adopting more and more practices that contribute to sustainable food production across the globe. However, sometimes increased adoption is coming from a very low starting point." What you can do As an consumer, you have an enormous power to drive change. Buy sustainably grown products from farmers markets, or boycott foods that are seen to be unsustainable. In the report, it came out strongly that the role of citizens are of an enormous importance. Cover photo by:   Hamish Secrett https://www.whatsorb.com/category/food
According to an UN study, the future of our food system is in danger. That’s because the plants, animals and micro-organisms that are the bedrock of food production are in decline. If these critical species are lost, the report says, it "places the future of our food system under severe threat". Because of pollution, climate change and land-use changes, biodiversity is decreasing. How bad is this threat and what can we do about it? The UN report is the first such study of its kind, using date gathered in 91 countries by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It says. Biodiversity is the diversity of plants, animals and other organisms that provide us with food, fuel and fibre. It includes pollinators like bees, that provide essential services, and worms, mangroves, sea grasses and fungi which work to keep soils fertile and purify the air and water. Biodiversity in a  sustainable way Many of the species that support food and agriculture are under threat or declining. While species friendly policies are increasing, they are not growing quickly enough, scientists say. Around a thousand wild food species, mainly plants, fish and mammals are decreasing in abundance. "Biodiversity is critical for safeguarding global food security, underpinning healthy and nutritious diets, improving rural livelihoods, and enhancing the resilience of people and communities," said FAO's Director-General José Graziano da Silva. "We need to use biodiversity in a sustainable way, so that we can better respond to rising climate change challenges and produce food in a way that doesn't harm our environment." A smaller number of foodstuffs to feed a growing population According to the study, the world is relying on an ever smaller number of foodstuffs to feed a growing population that's expected to rise to around ten billion people by 2050. Of the 6,000 plant species cultivated for food, just nine account for 66% of total crop production. The world's livestock production is based on around 40 species with only a handful providing the vast majority of meat, milk and eggs. The scale of threat to food The lack of biodiversity can leave food production much more vulnerable to shocks, such as outbreaks of disease and pests. The new study highlights a number of examples where the loss of biodiversity is impacting people's lives and diets. The Gambia says that large losses of wild foods have forced communities to turn to industrially processed foods to supplement their diets. Several countries including Ireland, Norway, Poland and Switzerland report declines in bumblebees. In Oman, the loss of pollinator populations due to extreme heat associated with climate change has seen the decline of wild food, including figs and berries. There are several causes for biodiversity loss, such as pollution, population growth and urbanisation and climate change. Other significant drivers of biodiversity loss are overexploitation and overharvesting and changes in land and water use and management. How countries fix the decline The report highlights a number of what it terms "biodiversity friendly practices" that are on the rise. Some 80% of the countries reporting say that they follow one or more of these approaches. Some examples: in Argentina, some 560,000 home gardens and 12,000 school and community gardens have been created and are providing food for an estimated 2.8 million people. In California, farmers are now allowing their rice fields to be flooded after harvest instead of burning them, opening 111,000 hectares of surrogate wetlands and open space for 230 bird species. Farmers in Ghana are planting cassava plants on field margins which produce huge amounts of nectar, attracting bees and other species, leading to higher yields. While these are lauded, the problem according to the FAO is that these changes aren't happening quickly enough. "It is very positive to see that countries are adopting more and more practices that contribute to sustainable food production across the globe. However, sometimes increased adoption is coming from a very low starting point." What you can do As an consumer, you have an enormous power to drive change. Buy sustainably grown products from farmers markets, or boycott foods that are seen to be unsustainable. In the report, it came out strongly that the role of citizens are of an enormous importance. Cover photo by:   Hamish Secrett https://www.whatsorb.com/category/food
Our Food System Under Threat By Decline In Biodiversity
Our Food System Under Threat By Decline In Biodiversity
Agri & Gardening

Growing food, either commercially or as a hobby is one of the most satisfying things you can do. It is however not without challenges. Protection against natural or man-made threats, irrigation or other treatments of the soil has to be done with care.

Agriculture is the process of producing food, feed, fibre and many other desired products by the cultivation of certain plants. The practice of agriculture is also known as ‘farming’, while scientists, inventors and others devoted to improving farming methods and implements are also said to be engaged in agriculture.
Subsistence farming; who farms a small area with limited resource inputs, and produces only enough food to meet the needs of his/her family. At the other end is commercial intensive agriculture, including industrial agriculture. Such farming involves large fields, large resource inputs (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.), and a high level of mechanization.

Nowadays, critical attention is given to industrial agriculture. Alternatives are proposed such as regenerative agriculture, the use of drones, smart techniques and blockchain. The use of fertilizer and water in large quantities is also criticized. The risks of monocultures are large and in combination with the depletion of agricultural land, the reduction of insects and climate change, it is necessary to change our view on industrial agriculture and growing crops.

If there was an urge to come up with a sustainable way of agriculture and gardening solutions and share these topics globally it’s now! WhatsOrb Global Sustainability X-change Platform is for you, storytellers and influencers to write about tiny houses, your experiences and expectations for the future at home and globally. 

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