UK Behind Developing Countries On Sustainable Agricultural Practices

A new report has highlighted the fact that the UK is lagging behind developing countries with regards to more sustainable agricultural practices, revealing that nations like India, Bangladesh and West Africa are more willing to change their systems and adopt different sustainability strategies in order to boost food production and biodiversity.


The Global Assessment of Agricultural System Redesign for Sustainable Intensification, published in the Nature Sustainability journal, showed that 163 million farms around the world (29 per cent of all farms) have now started incorporating some kind of sustainable intensification on 453 million hectares of agricultural land.


One example of redesign is organic farming, which is increasing rapidly around the world, with the largest number of such farmers now seen in India, Ethiopia, Mexico and Uganda. The biggest organically farmed areas are to be found in Australia and Argentina – and promisingly, the UK has seen a six per cent growth in the organic market, led by dairy products and meat.


Professor Nic Lampkin, co-author of the report and chief executive of the Organic Research Centre, explained that although there are many farmers in the UK investing in some kind of sustainable intensification to improve soil, support biodiversity, protect water resources and boost production, more still needs to be done in this regard.


He went on to add: “If we are to remain competitive with the rest of the world, we need urgent action from government to give farmers the courage to innovate and feel confident that policies are in place to train, support and fund the redesign of agricultural systems.


“Key challenges include investing to integrate more agroecological and redesign forms of sustainable intensification in farming systems, creating agricultural knowledge economies, and establishing policy measures to scale sustainable intensification further.


“The conclusion of our study is that sustainable intensification may be approaching a tipping point where it could be transformative. From this study our major hope is that system redesign can begin, although we recognise that this will need supportive national and international policies to succeed.”


In terms of water usage, the recent heatwave was a stark warning to farmers about how they need to review this regularly and ensure measures are put in place to build resilience into their long-term supply.


Nicola Dunn of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board explained that when water is abundant, farmers and others in the industry need to ensure they store water (whether that’s in a storage tank or reservoir) so they can turn to alternative sources when water is either running low or can’t be abstracted.


Farmers also need to have access to equipment and technology so water can reach livestock and crops more efficiently, Ms Dunn went on to say.


If you’d like to find out more about how you can improve your water management strategies, get in touch with the team here at H2O Building Services today.