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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Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water And Energy
Nature Sustainability published a paper about agrivoltaics. The article presents the first field-data evaluation of the results of a multi-year study of agronomy (agrivoltaics) in dry areas led by UA-geographer Greg Barron-Gafford. Creating resilience in renewable energy and food production is a crucial challenge in today's evolving world, especially in regions that are sensitive to heat and drought. Agrivoltaics, the co-location of agriculture and photovoltaic solar panels, suggests a potential solution. With a new study under the guidance of the University of Arizona, research has shown a positive impact on food production, water-saving and the efficiency of electricity production. Solar sharing Agrivoltaics, also referred to as solar sharing, is an idea that has been on the rise in recent years, but few studies have checked all aspects of the associated food, energy and water systems. What should be mentioned is that no research has focused on dry areas or regions. These regions are facing food production problems and water shortages but on the overabundance of solar energy. "Many of us want more renewable energy, but where do you place all of those panels? Recommended:  Solar Sono Motors Car: Developed in Germany, Made In Sweden There are a lot of more solar installations now than there was before, but mostly on the edges of the cities", commented Greg Barron-Gafford. Barron-Gafford is an associate professor in the School of Geography and Development and lead author on the paper that was published today in Nature Sustainability. Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water and Energy Do we prefer to use the land for food or energy production? Researchers started to ask, "Why not produce both in the same place?" So, that is what happens right now: growing peppers, crops of tomatoes, herbs and kale all in the shadow. "So what do you prefer for land use: food or energy production? This challenge strikes right at the intersection of human-environment connections, and that is where geographers shine!" said Barron-Gafford, who is also a researcher with Biosphere 2. "We started to ask, 'Why do we nog produce them both in the same place?' And we have been growing crops like tomatoes, peppers, chard, kale, and herbs all in the shadow of the solar panels. Recommended:  Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3 of 3) {youtube}                                             Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water and Energy                                                                   Biosphere 2 Agrivoltaics Measure the crops With the help of photovoltaic solar panels or PV panels and regional vegetables, the team created the first agrivoltaic research location in Biosphere 2. Professors and students measured everything from the moment the plants sprouted to the number of carbon plants they released from the atmosphere and water to their total food production during the entire growing season. During an average three-month summer growing season, the researchers monitored the incoming light levels, the relative humidity and the air temperature above the soil surface at a depth of 5 centimetres. They focused on chiltepin pepper, cherry tomato plants and jalapeños that were positioned under a PV array. Both the traditional area as the agrivoltaics area got the same daily irrigation. The researchers discovered that the agrivoltaics system has a significant impact on three factors that affect plant growth and reproduction: - air temperature - direct sunlight - the demand for water In the agrivoltaic area, the plants were placed in the shadow of the PV-panels. This resulted in cooler daytime temperature opposite to warmer night temperatures. There was also more humidity. Beneficial for: food, water and energy They found out that a lot of food crops grow better in the shadow of the solar panels because they cannot get direct sunlight. "The total chiltepin fruit production was three times greater under the PV panels in an agrivoltaics system, and tomato production was twice as high, according to Baron-Gafford. Jalapeños produced a similar amount of fruit in both the agrivoltaics system and the traditional one, but with almost no water loss. The researchers also discovered that we could support every crop growth for days with the agrivoltaics systems, not just hours in the current traditional plots. We can reduce water use but maintain the level of food production. There is not only beneficial to the plants but also to energy production: agrivoltaics systems increase the efficiency of energy production. Due to the use of solar panels for cultivating crops, researchers were able to reduce the temperature of the groups. The researchers say that more research with additional plant species is necessary. They also indicate the impact that agrivoltaic products can have on the physical and social well-being of farmworkers, which has not yet been studied. Preliminary data show that the skin temperature can be about 18 degrees Fahrenheit cooler when working in an agrivoltaic area than in traditional agriculture. Climate change There is already a lot of disruption in food production because of climate change. Agrivoltaic systems could help, not only for the crops but also for the farm labour. They work in the heat, which can cause heat strokes. Agrivoltaic systems can help diminish heat and maintain humidity. Recommended:  Climate Change: Water Scarcity, Hunger, Agriculture And Food
Nature Sustainability published a paper about agrivoltaics. The article presents the first field-data evaluation of the results of a multi-year study of agronomy (agrivoltaics) in dry areas led by UA-geographer Greg Barron-Gafford. Creating resilience in renewable energy and food production is a crucial challenge in today's evolving world, especially in regions that are sensitive to heat and drought. Agrivoltaics, the co-location of agriculture and photovoltaic solar panels, suggests a potential solution. With a new study under the guidance of the University of Arizona, research has shown a positive impact on food production, water-saving and the efficiency of electricity production. Solar sharing Agrivoltaics, also referred to as solar sharing, is an idea that has been on the rise in recent years, but few studies have checked all aspects of the associated food, energy and water systems. What should be mentioned is that no research has focused on dry areas or regions. These regions are facing food production problems and water shortages but on the overabundance of solar energy. "Many of us want more renewable energy, but where do you place all of those panels? Recommended:  Solar Sono Motors Car: Developed in Germany, Made In Sweden There are a lot of more solar installations now than there was before, but mostly on the edges of the cities", commented Greg Barron-Gafford. Barron-Gafford is an associate professor in the School of Geography and Development and lead author on the paper that was published today in Nature Sustainability. Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water and Energy Do we prefer to use the land for food or energy production? Researchers started to ask, "Why not produce both in the same place?" So, that is what happens right now: growing peppers, crops of tomatoes, herbs and kale all in the shadow. "So what do you prefer for land use: food or energy production? This challenge strikes right at the intersection of human-environment connections, and that is where geographers shine!" said Barron-Gafford, who is also a researcher with Biosphere 2. "We started to ask, 'Why do we nog produce them both in the same place?' And we have been growing crops like tomatoes, peppers, chard, kale, and herbs all in the shadow of the solar panels. Recommended:  Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3 of 3) {youtube}                                             Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water and Energy                                                                   Biosphere 2 Agrivoltaics Measure the crops With the help of photovoltaic solar panels or PV panels and regional vegetables, the team created the first agrivoltaic research location in Biosphere 2. Professors and students measured everything from the moment the plants sprouted to the number of carbon plants they released from the atmosphere and water to their total food production during the entire growing season. During an average three-month summer growing season, the researchers monitored the incoming light levels, the relative humidity and the air temperature above the soil surface at a depth of 5 centimetres. They focused on chiltepin pepper, cherry tomato plants and jalapeños that were positioned under a PV array. Both the traditional area as the agrivoltaics area got the same daily irrigation. The researchers discovered that the agrivoltaics system has a significant impact on three factors that affect plant growth and reproduction: - air temperature - direct sunlight - the demand for water In the agrivoltaic area, the plants were placed in the shadow of the PV-panels. This resulted in cooler daytime temperature opposite to warmer night temperatures. There was also more humidity. Beneficial for: food, water and energy They found out that a lot of food crops grow better in the shadow of the solar panels because they cannot get direct sunlight. "The total chiltepin fruit production was three times greater under the PV panels in an agrivoltaics system, and tomato production was twice as high, according to Baron-Gafford. Jalapeños produced a similar amount of fruit in both the agrivoltaics system and the traditional one, but with almost no water loss. The researchers also discovered that we could support every crop growth for days with the agrivoltaics systems, not just hours in the current traditional plots. We can reduce water use but maintain the level of food production. There is not only beneficial to the plants but also to energy production: agrivoltaics systems increase the efficiency of energy production. Due to the use of solar panels for cultivating crops, researchers were able to reduce the temperature of the groups. The researchers say that more research with additional plant species is necessary. They also indicate the impact that agrivoltaic products can have on the physical and social well-being of farmworkers, which has not yet been studied. Preliminary data show that the skin temperature can be about 18 degrees Fahrenheit cooler when working in an agrivoltaic area than in traditional agriculture. Climate change There is already a lot of disruption in food production because of climate change. Agrivoltaic systems could help, not only for the crops but also for the farm labour. They work in the heat, which can cause heat strokes. Agrivoltaic systems can help diminish heat and maintain humidity. Recommended:  Climate Change: Water Scarcity, Hunger, Agriculture And Food
Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water And Energy
Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water And Energy
Farmers Using Flowers Instead Of Chemicals To Tackle Pests
Flowers are colorful. They smell nice and brighten up many homes and gardens. But flowers have another crucial advantage: they attract insects. Pesticides are causing major problems: they are polluting drinking water, for example, and killing bees. That is why more and more farmers are now using flowers instead of these chemicals to tackle pests on their land. To ensure more beneficial bugs visit their fields to feed on pests, some farmers are planting ‘flower strips’ in and around their crops. This kind of biological pest control seems to be an excellent way of contributing to the ecological intensification of agriculture. ( Recommended:  Vegetables, Fruit, Edible Flowers, But Also Bees In Cities Urban Farming ) Flowers instead of chemicals to tackle pests With mounting evidence about the problems caused by pesticides, many of the insect-killers have been taken off the market in the UK and Europe. However, others are still frequently used; and that frequent use makes them less effective, as pests become resistant to the chemicals. Fortunately, there is a biological way to combat pests on land. The so-called flower strips can encourage natural opponents of agricultural pests. As a result, the damage to agricultural crops is less, and there is hardly any need to use polluting plant protection products. The natural enemies of pests in arable crops will do the job. Experimenting with farmers using flowers, ‘a highway for bugs’ This kind of biological pest control is nothing new. Cultivating an environment where natural pest predators can live by growing flowers between other crops is already a common practice for promoting biodiversity. For example, farmers already know that aphids (a common pest for multiple crops) don't stand a chance if they must share their home with parasitic wasps. They will eat the lice in their larval state. But now, agriculturalists are experimenting with strips of flowers within their crops, creating a highway for bugs to travel farther and cover more ground for pest control. It may be a strange sight: strips of land that generally should have one color, but now have all kinds of vividly colored flowers in the middle. Due to a new study, fourteen sites will look like this. The study tests how well the wildflowers attract pest-eating bugs, and how well they can help replace commercial – and polluting - pesticides. ( Recommended :  Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3) ) Pesticides will be the last line of defense on farms The study includes borders of wildflowers around each field - something that some farmers have used over the past two decades in the area to promote general biodiversity, not specifically for pest control. Also, there are strips of flowers placed in the middle of fields. Small insects cannot travel far, but with these flower strips, they can enter the entire land. A similar study was done in Switzerland, where one of the results was that the leaf damage was reduced by 61%. The researchers estimated that choosing the right mix of flowers could increase yield 10%, making it economically self-sustaining or even profitable to keep planting flowers. The research shows that the use of aggressive pesticides can probably not be eliminated entirely, but that this natural method will make a big difference in the necessary quantity. If this biological approach is combined with other techniques, such as using technology to diagnose vermin, pesticide use could be dramatically reduced, and serve as a last line of defense on farms, rather than the first thing farmers reach for. {youtube}                                                       7 Simple Strategies to Prevent Garden Pests Biological method: farmers using flowers and herbs You can also apply this organic method of pest control at home. By strategically placing insect repellent plants in your house or garden, you can keep annoying pests at bay. Curious about which flowers, plants, and herbs you should purchase as a natural bug repellent? According to the American company Aerex Pest Control, these are the best ways to keep those fleas, mosquitoes, and flies out. Please note that these plants, herbs, and flowers will not exterminate complete pests. This way of biological pest control can be beneficial when combined with other forms of proactive pest control in and around your home. Basil: repels mosquitoes and flies (and tastes great) Aerex Pest Control says that basil is a ‘great solution for repelling mosquitoes and flies’. These annoying insects don’t like the smell of this herb. Basil grows best with lots of sun and water. You can buy basil in a container in almost every supermarket and plant it in your garden. Easy does it! An additional advantage: basil tastes excellent with some mozzarella and tomato. Citronella: keeps the mosquitos away Citronella is known for its mosquito repelling odor: it had essential oils in it that these insects hate. You can buy citronella candles or a spray, but you can also strategically place this plant with strongly lemon-scented leaves in your home or garden. “It does well in a pot, or in the ground in a sunny and well-drained location,” according to Aerex Pest Control. Lavender: great for pest control The sweet smell of lavender is great for a good night’s sleep, but also to help repel flies, fleas, and mosquitoes. Thereby, it is a fantastic plant for pest control. The beautiful purple flowers will not look out of place in a colorful garden. “This plant is easy to maintain since it can basically survive all weather conditions.” Marigolds: repels and provide pops of color Marigolds will repel mosquitoes and aphids since they dislike the scent of this beautiful plant. “Plant them in sunny areas of your garden. If you have a vegetable garden, you can plant these throughout your garden to provide pops of color. Chrysanthemum: the greatest insect repeller among flowers Chrysanthemum helps to repel a lot of pests, including spider mites, ticks, roaches, lice, and fleas aphids, according to Aerex. The special ingredient: pyrethrum. You can find this in numerous insect-repelling sprays, as well as pet shampoos. This beautiful flower will look great both indoors and outdoors. ( Recommended:  New Foodscape Alternatives Gets Attention In The Netherlands )
Flowers are colorful. They smell nice and brighten up many homes and gardens. But flowers have another crucial advantage: they attract insects. Pesticides are causing major problems: they are polluting drinking water, for example, and killing bees. That is why more and more farmers are now using flowers instead of these chemicals to tackle pests on their land. To ensure more beneficial bugs visit their fields to feed on pests, some farmers are planting ‘flower strips’ in and around their crops. This kind of biological pest control seems to be an excellent way of contributing to the ecological intensification of agriculture. ( Recommended:  Vegetables, Fruit, Edible Flowers, But Also Bees In Cities Urban Farming ) Flowers instead of chemicals to tackle pests With mounting evidence about the problems caused by pesticides, many of the insect-killers have been taken off the market in the UK and Europe. However, others are still frequently used; and that frequent use makes them less effective, as pests become resistant to the chemicals. Fortunately, there is a biological way to combat pests on land. The so-called flower strips can encourage natural opponents of agricultural pests. As a result, the damage to agricultural crops is less, and there is hardly any need to use polluting plant protection products. The natural enemies of pests in arable crops will do the job. Experimenting with farmers using flowers, ‘a highway for bugs’ This kind of biological pest control is nothing new. Cultivating an environment where natural pest predators can live by growing flowers between other crops is already a common practice for promoting biodiversity. For example, farmers already know that aphids (a common pest for multiple crops) don't stand a chance if they must share their home with parasitic wasps. They will eat the lice in their larval state. But now, agriculturalists are experimenting with strips of flowers within their crops, creating a highway for bugs to travel farther and cover more ground for pest control. It may be a strange sight: strips of land that generally should have one color, but now have all kinds of vividly colored flowers in the middle. Due to a new study, fourteen sites will look like this. The study tests how well the wildflowers attract pest-eating bugs, and how well they can help replace commercial – and polluting - pesticides. ( Recommended :  Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3) ) Pesticides will be the last line of defense on farms The study includes borders of wildflowers around each field - something that some farmers have used over the past two decades in the area to promote general biodiversity, not specifically for pest control. Also, there are strips of flowers placed in the middle of fields. Small insects cannot travel far, but with these flower strips, they can enter the entire land. A similar study was done in Switzerland, where one of the results was that the leaf damage was reduced by 61%. The researchers estimated that choosing the right mix of flowers could increase yield 10%, making it economically self-sustaining or even profitable to keep planting flowers. The research shows that the use of aggressive pesticides can probably not be eliminated entirely, but that this natural method will make a big difference in the necessary quantity. If this biological approach is combined with other techniques, such as using technology to diagnose vermin, pesticide use could be dramatically reduced, and serve as a last line of defense on farms, rather than the first thing farmers reach for. {youtube}                                                       7 Simple Strategies to Prevent Garden Pests Biological method: farmers using flowers and herbs You can also apply this organic method of pest control at home. By strategically placing insect repellent plants in your house or garden, you can keep annoying pests at bay. Curious about which flowers, plants, and herbs you should purchase as a natural bug repellent? According to the American company Aerex Pest Control, these are the best ways to keep those fleas, mosquitoes, and flies out. Please note that these plants, herbs, and flowers will not exterminate complete pests. This way of biological pest control can be beneficial when combined with other forms of proactive pest control in and around your home. Basil: repels mosquitoes and flies (and tastes great) Aerex Pest Control says that basil is a ‘great solution for repelling mosquitoes and flies’. These annoying insects don’t like the smell of this herb. Basil grows best with lots of sun and water. You can buy basil in a container in almost every supermarket and plant it in your garden. Easy does it! An additional advantage: basil tastes excellent with some mozzarella and tomato. Citronella: keeps the mosquitos away Citronella is known for its mosquito repelling odor: it had essential oils in it that these insects hate. You can buy citronella candles or a spray, but you can also strategically place this plant with strongly lemon-scented leaves in your home or garden. “It does well in a pot, or in the ground in a sunny and well-drained location,” according to Aerex Pest Control. Lavender: great for pest control The sweet smell of lavender is great for a good night’s sleep, but also to help repel flies, fleas, and mosquitoes. Thereby, it is a fantastic plant for pest control. The beautiful purple flowers will not look out of place in a colorful garden. “This plant is easy to maintain since it can basically survive all weather conditions.” Marigolds: repels and provide pops of color Marigolds will repel mosquitoes and aphids since they dislike the scent of this beautiful plant. “Plant them in sunny areas of your garden. If you have a vegetable garden, you can plant these throughout your garden to provide pops of color. Chrysanthemum: the greatest insect repeller among flowers Chrysanthemum helps to repel a lot of pests, including spider mites, ticks, roaches, lice, and fleas aphids, according to Aerex. The special ingredient: pyrethrum. You can find this in numerous insect-repelling sprays, as well as pet shampoos. This beautiful flower will look great both indoors and outdoors. ( Recommended:  New Foodscape Alternatives Gets Attention In The Netherlands )
Farmers Using Flowers Instead Of Chemicals To Tackle Pests
Farmers Using Flowers Instead Of Chemicals To Tackle Pests
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)
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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