Chris Collins from the Soil Research Centre reviews the actions and intentions of an ongoing research programme.
The world will struggle to meet environmental targets around climate change, biodiversity and food production unless we understand our soil.
The contribution of soil to human well-being is often ignored. While we are all aware of the benefits clean air and water provide, this is more opaque with soil. For example, we cannot have clean water without soil. It is also vital for providing food, and the storage of water and carbon.
Continue reading For food security we need soil security
2014 is the International Year of Family Farming. Andrew MacMillan reflects on home-grown food.
A couple of months ago, the United Nations launched the International Year of Family Farming. Hopefully, by the end of the year many more people around the world will come to appreciate the enormously important role that family-run farms play in producing our food in sustainable ways.
When I was turning my compost heaps a few days ago to speed up the processes of decay and have lots of organic fertilizer available for the spring-time planting of vegetables, it struck me how often we risk creating confusion with the difficult words scientists and economists use to describe the kinds of things that small-scale farmers do, let us say naturally, every day.
Continue reading Investing sweat equity to harness ecosystem services
Fresh from the Rio+20 conference, Tim Benton ponders the paradox of producing more with less.
In the last weeks, I have attended an unsustainable flurry of meetings and discussions about sustainable intensification, sustainable agriculture or sustainable development (or all three together).
So what does “sustainable” mean, in the context of environment?
Agriculture, the world’s biggest industry, is rightly seen as the engine of development. It also generates the fuel, literally, that we all require.
Continue reading Sense and sustainability
In our second post on the Durban Climate Change Conference, David Howlett asks what was agreed on agriculture.
I am co-author of a new paper – What next for agriculture after Durban? – published in the journal Science. Here are some thoughts from the article and the conference itself.
The 17th conference of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ended two days late on 11 December 2011. The extra time was used by governments to agree the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (PDF).
Continue reading Political economy and food security
It’s time to engage the public with the difficult choices that lie ahead, says Les Firbank.
Food and farming have rarely been away from the headlines in recent years. One of the ongoing themes has been the alleged departure of modern food production and distribution from so-called ‘natural’ practices. We have seen it in the controversies over genetically modified (GM) crops, the rapid spread of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, and the risks to human health from BSE in cows and salmonella in chicken eggs.
Continue reading Farming in the future: nature versus necessity
Maturing discussions about the links between agriculture, biodiversity and climate change can drive progress, says Howard Minigh.
The nature of the food security debate is evolving, looking more broadly at the range of solutions required across different rural landscapes rather than only on farms. Instead of a ‘pick and choose’ approach, policymakers, scientists, farmers and the private sector are looking at how food security, environmental stewardship and economic development are interconnected.
Continue reading From Nagoya to Cancun: a new food security debate