Archive for August 2011

Mega farms: yay or nay?

Agriculture needs to produce more food from less. Are ‘mega’ farms the answer, asks Becky Hothersall.

Becky Hothersall

I research the health and welfare of chickens reared for meat, but last year I spent six weeks working with BBC Countryfile as part of the British Science Association’s Media Fellowship scheme for research scientists. At the BBC I had the chance to act as researcher and scientific adviser for a feature looking at the rise of huge indoor ‘mega’ dairies and pig farms in the United States.

The mega farm debate is highly polarised. I heard equally passionate arguments that mega farms pollute the environment and destroy rural communities, and from others who believe that they’re the only viable way to keep meat and dairy products affordable back here in Britain.
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Business as usual is not an option

Individuals, governments and farmers are all responsible for the changes we need, says Oliver Dowding.

Oliver Dowding

My first 13 years of farming saw endless lorry-loads of fertilisers and chemicals coming on to the farm. The controls on their usage, and the consequential problems, were evidently increasing. I re-examined what I was doing and who the gainers and losers were.

Conclusion: I needed to cut down the inputs, improve sustainability, stay friends with the consumer and re-enliven my soils.
Continue reading Business as usual is not an option