Sustainable Farming Organics – A choice for Life
By Jenny Slabber, Talborne Organics
“Adapt or die” seems to be the best way to describe the future trend for life. The world as we knew it has changed. In all spheres of life there is turmoil, just take a look at the financial, political or business world there is no longer a comfort zone, or a familiar cocoon of daily routine and activities. For farmers there are either huge dangers or fantastic opportunities depending on how we choose to adapt for a future.
Farmers are suppliers of all the basic comforts essential to life. The producers of food which grows and nourishes healthy bodies, fibre used for clothing and linen, and timber for housing structures, energy and braai’s.
Between 1960 and 2000 the worlds populations doubled from 3 billion to 6 billion and by November 2011, had reached a total of 7 billion. The Millennium Eco-system Assessment reported immense damage to ecosystems which are fundamental to human life, to meet the increased demand for food, fresh water, timber and fibre. Our generation is starting to feel the impact of this degradation in poor health, increased pollution, global warming and loss of plant and animal species.
This huge population presents massive growth opportunities for farmers who adapt to sustainable farming practises, to keep their business flourishing, increase productivity and insulate them from future insecurities like climate change and ever increasing food safety standards.
Sustainable Farming through conservation farming methods?
Research from respected institutes like Rodale Field Trial Study and WWF Green Farms Policy, together with common sense; conclude that conservation agriculture offers the only future for farming. Organic farming encompasses the principles of conservation agriculture which is to build up a flourishing soil ecosystem containing beneficial micro-organisms, carbon content through compost and green manure, good soil structure and productive and balanced nutrient levels and soil chemistry, to provide food for quality plant, animal and human life in a sustainable growing system.
Anything that damages the environment, pollutes, kills ecosystems or causes toxicity in food, soil, air or water should be avoided. When a product, food or process is certified organic the producer and consumer is assured that a stringent inspection and control system governed by worldwide safety standards through the International Federation of Organic Agricultural movements (IFOAM) is applied.
Farming into the future
Farmers are well placed to care for the environment if they make a change today for sustainable farming, by adopting conservation principles as shown by Rodale FTS such as:
Be more aware of how you use the natural resources on your farm. Organic systems use water more efficiently due to better soil structure and higher levels of humus. Optimise water use by using the most effective irrigation program for your crops requirement. Use proven soil conservation methods such as green manure, crop rotation and intercropping to maintain soil health. Soil analysis should be used as the basis for all fertilizer programs; this enables the farmer to stretch the financial resources and optimising production by buying the correct fertilizer for the job. Choose fertilizers with low salt levels (avoid fertilizers containing high Sodium (Na) and Chloride (Cl) content) and preferably formulated organic fertilizers for sustainable production. Avoid the use of toxic herbicides by mulching or planting ground cover crops to suppress weeds while conserving water.
Be aware of the impact of your activities on the greater environment, produce must be free of toxic residues for consumer safety. Beneficial insects such as bees, ladybirds and plant and animal and bird species must be protected and flourished.
Consider your farms environmental health as it impacts on your health, your families and farm workers. Eliminate the use of poisons by focussing on growing healthy crops that are resilient to disease. Use proven methods like IPM and there are a growing number of softer and environmentally safe natural and organic alternatives to poisons.
Reduce waste and recycle as much as you are able to.
Cut down on excessive dependence on energy fuel and electricity and replace with green alternatives like solar and wind power. Teach children to appreciate and find joy in nature’s abundance and beauty.
“The ability of ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted” extract from The Millennium Eco-system Assessment Report. By incorporating Organic principles and methods for sustainable production farmers will grow profits while ensuring the health of the earth and her ecosystems for future generations.