Organic farming methods, which use fewer pesticides and store more carbon in soil, are becoming more popular.
There is growing momentum behind a shift to ‘regenerative’ agriculture in the UK, which can help to mitigate the climate crisis, say leading experts in the sector.
“More and more people are seeing other farmers doing it [regenerative farming] and are happier for it,” said John Cherry, who founded Groundswell, the UK’s flagship event for regenerative agriculture, on his farm in Hertfordshire. “People may be getting a higher yield with conventional approaches, but it is costing them more too with all the inputs, so they are not making more money.”
Minette Batters, head of the National Farmers’ Union, has set out an ambition for UK farming to be climate neutral by 2040. Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy has now recommended that the government put aside up to £700m to pay farmers to create nature-rich, carbon sequestering landscapes.
Food and farming — a key UK sector — has a large carbon footprint, accounting for one-fifth of our emissions. That figure rises to about 30% if you factor in the emissions produced by all the food we import. Agriculture accounts for about 10% of emissions, but in recent years there have been a number of commitments to reducing that.
There are already more than 1,700 organic farmers across the UK registered with Soil Association Certification, covering almost half a million hectares of farmland. As well as using fewer pesticides, organic farms have more wildlife and store more carbon in their soils, reducing climate emissions.
But in recent years, ‘regenerative’ farming techniques have seen a significant growth in interest.
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— Tom Levitt, The Guardian
IMAGE: Andrii-Zastrozhnov, Dreamstime