Agriculture is entering a period of massive disruption – whether farmers like it or not. There is an urgent need for reform within the farming sector and mitigation and adaptation are both crucial not just for farmer’s profits, but for the future of us all.
This may be an extremely worrying time for many farmers and producers. However, as with any period of disruption and change, there is not only struggle, there is also immense opportunity. Farmers who are able to identify that opportunity, adapt, diversify, are those who will be the future of sustainable agriculture.
Key questions that farmers need to ask themselves is not only how they will grow, but also which crops. The how is far easier. Agro-ecology, agroforestry, a greater harmony with the natural world and regenerative practices are of course key, for diverse farming sectors.
But as the world changes, and society shifts, which crops will secure farmer’s futures and ensure that they can contribute most effectively to a more sustainable world?
I for one have high hopes that the farms of the future will grow high-quality, organic food for us, not low grade cereals for livestock or other typical commercial crops for export. Those willing to take more integrated approaches and focus on local production for local people, while respecting and nurturing the natural world, can find niches to nourish people and generate income.
Diverse, ecologically rich farms can also potentially provide far more locally for other needs. There is immense potential, for example, to revive fibre crop production for textiles and clothing (here in Scotland/ the British Isles) – and forward thinking farmers may well be rewarded by a public increasingly seeking out sustainable fashion alternatives to harmful cotton and synthetics.
Many farmers, struggling in the current climate, may wonder which direction to turn. If you are looking for help and guidance in transitioning and diversifying, please do get in touch. I would be glad to work with you to help you identify diverse future potential for your land.