As the end of the Brexit transition period approaches, with the UK completing its exit of the EU, there has been an increasingly intense focus on farming and food security. Furthermore, with the increasing challenges wrought by climate change, such as environmental impacts, an emphasis on sustainability is now of huge importance, to UK agriculture and indeed, farming.
The most common aspects of UK farming are, Arable, Livestock and Dairy. Now, the farming methods of the 20th century; for instance, utilising and relying on chemical pesticides, fertilisers, biotechnology and large government subsidies, realised what seemed to be an extremely favourable situation, whereby food was ample and cheap. However, the costs of such farming methods, both to the environment and socially, have fast become abundantly clear.
Environmental and Social Costs to Traditional Farming
The costs to the environment include issues such as: land erosion, contaminated soil and water, depleted soil and water, and deforestation. Whilst socially, the costs include labour abuses and the decline of the traditional family farm, the result of the continued growth in industrial sized farming and methods, which also greatly impact the environment. Therefore, farmers, government and policy makers have recognised it imperative, that sustainability be the overarching paradigm for agriculture and farming moving forward, to avert catastrophic environmental and societal damage.
Sustainable Agriculture / Farming
At a most fundamental level sustainability in terms of agriculture and farming is to utilise techniques that safeguard the environment, animal welfare, public health, and communities. Furthermore, sustainability in agriculture and farming is about producing enough healthy food for the present population, whilst at the same time, ensuring future generations are able to achieve the same. Key to this are methods such as: crop rotation, crop diversification, science and technology, and recycling techniques. In addition, rather than large industrial sized farms, sustainable farms are generally, small scale ventures with innovation at the forefront and it is encouraging, that there are now a growing number of UK farms embracing those innovative methods, with sustainability at the forefront.
Ultimately, sustainable agriculture and farming is about sustaining humans as a species; sustaining farmers, individuals and communities, both economically and in terms of food, whilst crucially, sustaining the environment, so that future generations can also enjoy the resources and habitat, gifted to humans, by the natural environment.
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