The challenge of sustainable food production from a grower’s perspective

Growers have always faced many challenges and risks, that is part of the job. The nature of those risks has been changing and as our understanding of sustainable practices develops and matures we begin to see the real challenges that lay ahead. Sustainability to me means being able to feed people for ever from the optimal use of the planets resources whilst maintaining the natural ecology. Easier said than done though, and we face some stark choices. Soil health is vital and if we mess-up then the future looks bleak. Fertility inputs need to be from sustainable sources, from within the farm or from local waste streams. Good soil management has the potential to lock up carbon on a grand scale if we treat it carefully and efficiently. The weather is getting tougher and we will need to prepare our growing systems to be resilient.

We will have to be accountable for the right to use an increasingly scarce energy for food production. Biodiversity should be integral to the whole food production system and be seen as the heart of the farm with food as a by-product of that. Marketing systems will need to be tailored to community needs and distributed as locally as possible. Better education and understanding of food will need to become a part of the social fabric of society, with closer links between growers and their customers.


Theme: crop diversity
Published: 22nd January 2014
Author: Iain Tolhurst