Bill Wiggin North Herefordshire MP met some of the UK’s most innovative farmers recently.
On Tuesday, April 19, a group of farmers came to parliament to show MPs the techniques they use and explain their use at an Agroecology event hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group.
Bill Wiggin MP said: “It was a pleasure to attend the event and speak to the farmers involved in pioneering different techniques. Farm management methods grounded in biology make both sound financial and environmental sense.
“One of the most interesting aspects was a farmer who was looking at the best use of pasture for grazing cattle and how he could improve grazing efficiency.
“Farmers, landowners, policy makers and society as a whole must share the collective responsibility for future food production.”
The farmers — 14 in all — were from a diverse assortment of farms from dairy to horticulture, traditional mixed farms and even agroforestry, combining trees and crops. They explained the wide variety of techniques they use to ensure their farms are productive and efficient, while also producing a range of benefits to society and the environment. They are also mindful of economic reality, explaining that using farm management methods grounded in biology makes sound financial sense too.
Tom Chapman, one of the farmers, said: “As farmers, we have a choice. We can either fight nature or we can work hand-in-hand with it. Our grandfathers and great grandfathers worked with nature; they had little choice! However, for the best part of 80 years we have been fighting nature.
“For me, agroecology isn’t turning our back on 21st century science. Instead it is about understanding how the natural world operates and then tailoring our activities to be ‘in sync’ with nature. As a result our reliance on artificial props reduces and their use becomes more targeted and case-specific.”
What unites this diverse group of farmers is their decision to move beyond the conventional, industrial farming of the past half century. This model, based on monocultures and chemistry, has led to a range of problems, from environmental degradation to the loss and diminishment of rural livelihoods and the contamination of the food chain.
Agroecology uses biological techniques to improve farming and takes into account the social and economic context within which farming takes place. The approach is based on ecological systems, using them to build soil structure and fertility and manage pest and diseases. Agroecology is multifunctional and produces copious benefits, as opposed to more sterile monocultures.