Thursday, March 08, 2007

On-farm biodiversity is the key to success

We have always believed that the maintenance of on-farm biodiversity is the key to having a long term, sustainable business. It is becoming ever more certain that more extreme weather conditions, as part of emerging climate change will make it difficult for farmers to sustain highly specialized production.
A US study has calculated that diverse, synergistic farms can be profitable and simultaneously benefit the environment. Some farmers are successfully experimenting with biodiversity.
Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farms near Swoope, Virginia (US) has developed a rotational grazing production system featuring pastures containing at least 40 varieties of plants and numerous animal species. Salatin’s farm uses little fossil fuel, yet the farm is highly productive. The 57-hectare farm annually produces 30,000 dozen eggs, 10,000 to 12,000 broilers, 100 beef animals, 250 pigs, 800 turkeys, and 600 rabbits.
Production at the Freeranger Farm is not that large, but the principles are similar and we maintain a balance with our natural ecosystems. Sustainability is what we are about.
Farming systems that are less energy intensive, more flexible in the face of unstable climates, and that produce a variety of products are likely to be the future of agriculture. When farms convert from monocultures to more diverse operations, net farm income can increase by as much as 108% while generating significant environmental and social benefits. Specialised, intensive and industrialised production methods are not as efficient as some 'experts' have been telling us.

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