All About Alternative Agriculture
Alternative agriculture refers to agriculture that does not use conventional methods, and instead, is based on agroecology. Therefore, alternative agriculture consists of agricultural methods that are sustainable and protect the agroecosystem.
Because it’s an umbrella term, it consists of many different systems, including organic agriculture, sustainable agriculture, agroforestry, permanent agriculture, and integrated agriculture. While these may sound extremely different, they are based on the same principles – those of conservation and protecting resources like water and soil. Other aims include prioritizing the use of organic fertilisers and biological control instead of using chemical and mineral fertilisers and encouraging crop rotations and no-tillage.
A combination of agriculture and forestry, this concept is pretty straightforward – combining farming with trees. This clearly has environmental benefits in the form of a reduction in carbon, controlling runoff and soil erosion, increasing nitrogen input, and more – the list goes on. However, the benefits aren’t restricted to the environment – agroforestry is a growing field that is gaining more and more traction because of its profitability. Along with this growth come a number of agricultural job opportunities, including agricultural jobs in conservation, management, research and data collection, forestry, agricultural support systems, soil science, and more. Specific jobs include managing seedling farms for tree species, harvesting firewood, and pruning.
Biological control is a huge part of alternative agriculture and sustainable agriculture. This is because pesticides not only add toxins to the food chain, but also harm bees and cause severe illnesses. Overuse of pesticide even leads to water pollution and, along with it, harm to marine life and plants. Alternative farming also aims to tackle the problem of overusing chemical and mineral fertilisers and, instead, switching to organic fertilisers.
Both fall under the category of biologicals, which include everything from beneficial insects and plant extracts to microbials and organic material to support growth. The global market for agricultural biologicals was valued at $7.2 billion (£5.2 billion) in 2019 – by 2027, it is expected to face a growth of 9.4%. With such high demand for biopesticides, biostimulants, biofertilizers, and more, the field is ripe for new talent.
This isn’t just true for research and development – the field will require everything from those sourcing the materials to distributors, marketers, and more. Because of how quickly this is developing, it may even create jobs in agricultural education.
Like agroforestry, organic farming doesn’t just benefit the environment – it also creates jobs and results in business diversification. Organic farming is not only more labour-intensive than traditional farming, but it also creates specialty jobs in processing such as special handling and quality sorting. It also results in employment in other agricultural sectors because of the material sourced, for example, natural fertilisers and natural pesticides. In fact, one study compared labour intensity per organic farm in farms in the UK and Ireland, relative to traditional farms. Results showed an astounding 97% contrasted with 27%.
Pest management isn’t limited to pesticides, natural or chemical. Some have managed to use alternative techniques in order to control pests – cocoa farmers in Cameroon, for example, were trained in techniques such as pruning, phytosanitary harvesting methods, and shade adjustment and managed to get the same yield as prior years that relied on fungicides. Fungicide use was reduced by 39% and costs were decreased by 11%. This is despite labour increasing by 14%. With the demand for more skilled labourers rising, and newer technology and innovation in methods requiring further training, there are many jobs in this field.
There are many opportunities present in livestock management. This includes livestock and crop diversification to achieve agricultural sustainability. it is important to note that this will vary from location to location – because agro-climate conditions will have to be taken into consideration, specialised workers will be needed.
Jobs also include those that deal with waste reduction. This includes using crop residues to feed animals, using manure as natural fertiliser, and developing biogas production systems that can utilise methane gas for different purposes. Therefore, more sustainable agricultural practices, combined with livestock management, can result in a variety of sustainable agricultural jobs.
Branding, Certification, and Marketing
This includes both, government and non-government jobs. Because alternative agriculture and organic agriculture result in sustainably produced food, the resulting marketing usually includes information relaying this. However, to make sure that this kind of marketing isn’t abused and used frivolously, farms usually have to get certified. Jobs in this field include not only marketing and branding, but also policymaking, inspecting, and more.
Jobs in Alternative Agriculture
With alternative agriculture being such a broad term and the field becoming increasingly popular, the industry is filled to the brim with relevant agricultural jobs. From hands-on jobs in forestry and farming to managerial positions and research, there’s something for everyone.
If you’re passionate about alternative agriculture, agriculture innovation, or just the agricultural field in general, we encourage you to check out these job listings – you may just find your dream job. If not, we’re more than willing to help. At Agricultural Recruitment Specialists, it’s our goal to find you the perfect job and help you advance your career – no matter your career goals, we can help you reach them.
We also cater to companies – our recruitment services will ensure that you find the best candidate for the job. Whether it’s a trainee position you’re looking to fill or a senior position that has opened up, we can find the perfect fit. Our services cover the UK, but don’t stop there – we also cover all of Europe and even work globally.