Current conventional agriculture relies on heavy chemical product input, mostly petrochemical based. Much research in recent years has shown that these synthetic chemicals have a negative effect on soil health, livestock, human health and the environment.
Yet nature, within its own capacity and through healthy life cycles, from within healthy ecosystems, has an abundance of natural biochemicals that help each species within that environment to live, thrive, reproduce and survive and has done so over millennia. The biochemicals are intrinsically in tune with the surrounding environment; other living organisms, soil and climatic conditions.
Exploring this from an agricultural perspective; not having control over climatic conditions, we farmers have a chance to influence the soil and its living organisms surrounding our main crops. With conventional practice, mono-cropping, tillage and chemicals, we have detrimentally influenced this environment impairing our future production ability, more than we think. The results vary, from modest environmental damage, to catastrophes, such as Lake Aral in Turkestan/Russia. Resistant weed, depleted levels of humus content and consistently declining yields, if not more fertilizers are applied, are just some of the results of those farming practices. There is no economic and especially no long term economic sense in continuing the way our parents did.
Resulting application of more chemicals to compensate only makes things worse, apart from being excessively expensive, they also drain resources and are very energy intensive, with effects we all hear about on a daily basis in the media. Agriculture alone contributes 17-30% to the global footprint, whereas in contrast it could have a positive sequestration effect under new modern agricultural practices.
What are these new modern agricultural practices? They are the next step in an agricultural movement, a sustainable intensification that takes conservation agriculture to the level of agro-ecological farming practices, by enhancing conservation agriculture with the use of extensively researched companion and cover crop planting and other organic cultivation practices. A system where we define clear strategies and outline practical tools/recipes for the farmers to make sense of agro-ecology and enable them to practically implement its principles. It is a system, I believe will drive the new ‘Real Green Revolution’. This ‘Real Green Revolution’ will produce high yields, protect soil productivity, and maintain environmental quality and is termed in reference to the ‘Green Revolution’, which was a production increase, achieved with the intensified use of synthetic chemicals during the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s.
This has manoeuvred us farmers into a predicament; where it has become increasingly difficult to maintain profits on tired, depleted soils and disease infected crop. In a vicious circle we buy more and more fertilizer, pesticides, weedicides and genetic modified seeds to try and compensate. While we see no production increases, our costs are exploding, as multinationals take a grab, making billions at the costs of farmers and the environment. As our beloved bees die away, our food is poisoned; so after all the previous green revolution wasn’t that green at all. It drove money into the pockets of a few, banked off the humus in the soil (which is now depleted) made us farmers more dependant, has given us a rise in cancer and an excessive food/meat consumption behaviour, we do not want to have.
Now we are due for a Real Green Revolution!
Wolfgang Johann von Loeper