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Sustainable Farming: Balancing Food Production and Ecological Health

January 24, 2023

This blog discusses the importance of sustainable farming practices and how to balance the production of food with the health of the environment. It explains that ecology is the study of how organisms interact with each other and their environment, and how farming can disrupt this natural balance. Recent innovations in farming practices have found ways to mimic these ecological balances while still improving yields and profits for farmers.

Ecology Achievements

Collect each ecology Achievement to promote your farm's most sustainable farming practices and focus on balancing your farm's natural ecology with food production.

Ecology and Farming

Ecology in its most basic terminology is the study of earth and the relations organisms have to one another and to their physical environment. At AgWe, ecology is the relationship plants and animals have on the environment. These relationships have been slowly forming over the past 4 billion years to create a balanced ecosystem that can support all life on this planet. Farming disrupts this natural process to focus on the production of food for us.

Recent innovations in farming practices have found new ways of using flora and fauna to mimic these ecological balances whilst still improving yields and profits for farmers. These practices have been led by innovators like Allen Savoury and his holistic management strategy and Peter Andrews study into Australia’s flood plains and river systems. The goal of AgWe's ecology level is for farmers to reduce their dependency on chemical fertiliser, pesticides, animal growth hormones and other substitutes and instead engage our naturally functioning ecosystem and help protect our flora and fauna. By supporting farmers who choose to farm without the help of chemical substitutes and pesticides we can help find the balance between food production and a thriving ecosystem.

Importance of Plants and Microbes

Chemical Fertiliser-Free: To stop using chemical fertilisers and prove that your farms soil can naturally sustain your farms food production.

Herbicide-Free: To stop using herbicides which kill plants and promote natural plant diversity.

Fungicide-Free: To stop using fungicides which kill fungi and promote natural fungi diversity.

Bactericide-Free: To stop using bactericide which bacteria and promote natural bacteria diversity.

Plants and Microbes (Bacteria and Fungi mainly) work harmoniously together. Microbes help breakdown and absorb organic material which then allows the plant to absorb those nutrients for growth, in exchange the plant naturally produced sugars which microbes feed off. Without this ecosystem working together there would be no naturally functioning nutrient cycle, which is how elements like carbon and nitrogen are returned to the soil. 80% - 90% of these processes in soils are reactions that are mediated by microbes.

Farmers use herbicides, fungicides, bactericides to prevent or kill diseases that would affect their crops. These pesticides are not targeted and kill all types of bacteria, fungi and plants causing a loss of soil functionality and diversity. Before we make more plants, bacteria and fungi extinct from overuse of pesticides we should first understand the role these microbes play in soil fertility and productivity. GMO’s and chemical fertilisers provide a great snapshot of the farms progress to sustainability as a completely sustainable farm should not require either. As the farm requires more pesticides and fertilisers, we can be sure the lands natural ecological balance is being lost. It is key to the achievement of sustainable farming and food production that we figure out how to farm without these.

Animals on Farms

Hormone-Free: Growth Hormones are used to increase the weight of the animal at the cost of their animal welfare.

Insecticide-Free: To stop using insecticides which kill insects and promote natural insect diversity.

Rodenticide-Free: To stop using rodenticide which kill larger animals and promote natural wildlife diversity.

AgWe investigates farming practices that affect animals on their property and disrupt the lands ecological balance. Animals play an important role in the lands ecosystem by excreting their all-natural fertiliser, tilling the soil with their feet or mower the lawn by eating the grass which allows the regrowth of plant to occur. Each animal affects their environment and has a place in the food chain.

By using insecticides and rodenticides we kill insects and wildlife reducing the population and diversity. Since they are sprayed on large farming areas, their ability to kill most insects and wildlife and even cause secondary poisonings make them extremely disruptive to the natural environment and animal population. AgWe farmers aim to reduce their use of insecticides, rodenticides and growth hormones and instead are encouraged to create an environment that balances predators with prey and maximises plant and animal growth.  

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