Environmental sustainability is one of the most pressing worldwide issues in the Agricultural industry alongside population growth and global warming.
The paradox of the issue lies in the fact that the adoption of innovative farming practices can cause negative impacts on the natural environment, whilst simultaneously the biggest threat to agriculture is nature’s declining health.
Future biodiversity losses from habitat conversion could be avoided for the most part through targeted policy making with the goal to establish markets for sustainably produced food without restricting industry innovation.
From this, we have noticed that apart from the obvious need to increase conservation efforts across the board, the biggest impacts on environmental health will stem from the grassroots management of food production systems – land use, food consumption and waste reduction. Farm innovation is paving the way in Australia so the rest of the world should take note if we are to deal with population growth and global hunger on a grand scale.
A fantastic example of such innovation can be found by looking at the Australian cotton industry.
Biodiversity is encouraged by breeding beneficial insects and dropping them on the crops via drones. This solution recognises that biology underpins every farming practice and is the key to unlocking sustainable agriculture by minimising chemical usage. To add on to this point, around 75% of food crops need wild insects for pollination and the health of water resources like rivers is sustained by diverse plants and animals.
Whilst there already exists a plethora of technological farming innovations such as GPS – guided robots, drip irrigation systems, feed additives and nutritional supplements, these innovations can only be as effective as how quickly the broader community is willing to pay for them.
Hence, it is paramount that we continually engage farmers in agricultural market research to reinforce the fact that diversity is critical for the future of farming ecosystems.
Time is of the essence for this issue given that a recent UN study concluded one million species around the world are under threat of extinction. The complex nature of the problem puts it beyond the scope of simple policy fixes from all levels of government, but rather a holistic approach that addresses issues regarding land and water use alongside urban planning and costs that may incur on our GDP as a result. Ultimately it all boils down to how much more Australians are willing to pay for their food in order to protect the environment for future generations.
This article was originally published on www.kg2.com.au on September 13, 2020.