Farming more sustainably
Is it possible to farm more sustainably without wholly converting to organic farming? Explore other agroecological methods of farming.
Organic farming is the best-developed and most widely recognised system of farming addressing the long-term sustainability issues of food production, delivering on a broad spectrum of environmental public goods, including quality food and a profitable business.
However, some farms may wish to keep the flexibility of adopting many organic practices while using some conventional inputs, they avoid certification costs but forgo premiums for their produce. Agroecology is a term that encompasses other farming systems including organic, which share common characteristics:
- A biological focus, rather than chemical, with reliance on knowledge and management
- Emphasis on diversity and farming systems
- Reduced inputs.
Sometimes referred to as integrated, regenerative or conservation farming, they all rely on better soil management and crop diversity.
Agroecology can be defined as “the science and practice of applying ecological concepts and principles to the study, design and management of the ecological interactions within agricultural systems (e.g. relations between and among biotic and abiotic elements). This whole-systems approach to agriculture and food systems development is based on a wide variety of technologies, practices and innovations including local and traditional knowledge as well as modern science” (FAO, 2009)
Further reading: IFOAM’s 2019 position paper on Agroecology (Organic and Agroecology: working to transform our food system)
For helpful resources on agroecological and sustainable farm practices, download ORC Publications and Technical Guides.
The Organic Research Centre runs a collaborative project called Agricology which is an independent learning platform bringing together the latest knowledge on agroecology from across the sector, bridging research and farmer experience (organic and conventional), regardless of labels. Further information on all agroecological farming systems is available on the Agricology website https://www.agricology.co.uk
Buy your Organic Farm
The Organic Farm Management Handbook is the only source of information on the costs and performance of organic farming.
This is a ‘must have’ publication for everyone interested in the business of organic farming and growing. This edition provides technical and financial data, information on current support schemes, Brexit permitting, as well as details on organic markets.BUY
Lampkin, N. et al. (2015) The Role of Agroecology in Sustainable Intensification. Report for Scottish Natural Heritage. Organic Research Centre, Newbury. www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A1652615.pdf