In this year, whilst the world is still fearful of Covid, Climate Change and Religious Extremism, where is the chink of light that will gives us any hope for a bright and healthy future?
For many years, decades in fact, we have been warned about the calamity that we all face from climate changes that will create real and dangerous temperature rises. We know the effects because they are occurring already. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent: more intense bush fires, storms and floods. Insect numbers are reduced in many areas by over 60-70%. Bee numbers in some parts of the world are so low that the normal pollination process is severely affected. This is affecting crop and plant growth and future food supplies.
But in many countries around the world really good things are happening. Sometimes, despite lack of government help or involvement, farmers and local groups are embracing different ways of ‘doing business’.
One of the newer farming philosophies that emanated from the USA is called Regenerative Farming. This idea is for minimal soil disturbance with very little or no ploughing or tilling with the aim of protecting the precious topsoils. Weeds are controlled by what is called ‘sheet mulching’ which is used extensively to control weeds, eliminate the use of chemicals and increase the fertility of the soil. Re-creating whole paddocks with leafy woody matter that resembles the forest floor makes them ready for replanting crops, trees or weed free grasses. Seeding in larger paddocks is carried out by newly designed pinpoint machines whereby very little disturbance of the soil occurs. Crops have been found to be more resilient to climate change which also provides savings of millions of dollars on reduced manpower and reduced use of chemicals. More and more farmers are introducing similar methods all over the world.
An exciting area for providing healthy “new” foods is the farming of “ancient” foods used in Australia by Aboriginal farmers. Foods that have been eaten for thousands of years are now being farmed and used more widely around Australia. Along with providing jobs for Aboriginal workers, the crops themselves need much less watering and virtually no pesticides thus allowing carbon capture, instinctively developed by the Aboriginal farmers. These native foods will sustain a whole new industry whilst ticking all the boxes in-regards-to biodiversity and climate change.
(To be continued in Gesher 2021)