Sustainable farming

Sustainable Farming & Soil Fertility

Many do not know that man’s efforts increase crop yields, and reduce the number insects that harm crops, have had more negative effects on the environment, than scientists have foretold. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is estimating that, in less than 100 years, man will deplete the world’s soil to a point that the planet’s arable land compared to the 1960s, will be less than a quarter of what it was. Soil fertility is being destroyed by farming techniques involving heavy chemical use, and deforestation.

Organic farming seeks to redress this lack of ecological balance. Also in the UK and the US, some farmers are trying to reduce the amount of fertilizers, and pesticides used, which contribute to soil erosion and global warming, in a different way. John Cherry, who has been farming 2,000 acres in Hertfordshire for about eight years, is using a new no till method that involves using less farm machinery.

The no till or no ploughing method means more planning, as crops are left on the soil throughout the year however. it also means reduced erosion, more organic matter, and increased biodiversity. The movement started in the US, where some are increasing the livestock and trees on their lands as well.

Healthier soil retains more water, and also might assist in reducing atmospheric carbon. Some may worry that the numbers of insects also grow with less pesticide use, but insects should not be completely eradicated on farms, because they are the bottom of the food chain. Cherry has reported that the number of birds and wildlife increase when no-till farming is used.