Recently I was reading this article on theconversation.com titled ‘The future of agriculture: why unis must prepare students to secure both our food and our planet.’ While reading it I found myself both enthused and concerned. Join me as I discuss my thoughts from the article and the points that made me a little worried about some of the approaches.
Regen Ray Likes
The positive points of the article included:
- Discussions About Ethics—ethics is important to us here at Farming Secrets, and we find it encouraging to see that people are taking an interest. I love to hear that university students are questioning the ethics of agricultural processes and don’t accept the syllabus at face value.
- The Number of Agricultural Graduates—it’s wonderful to hear that 17 different Australian universities now offer significant agricultural degrees. The 300 to 400 students that graduate from these universities every year is excellent news for the agricultural sector.
- Helpful Films—producers have been making many exciting, innovative films (like Kiss the Ground and A Life on our Planet) in recent years. I’d encourage everyone to watch these movies! I find it extremely encouraging to see people creating and sharing this type of content.
- Digital Agriculture & Technological Advances—I love to see agricultural technology that helps farmers to improve their nature-based farming systems. Automatic gates that allow grazers to move from one pasture to the next at the appropriate time are one such excellent device.
Of course, I dislike any technology that takes us further from the land or replaces natural systems.
Regen Ray Would Like to See Changes in
While the above improvements are exciting, they also raised concerns. I would like to see improvements in the following areas:
- Uninspiring Farming—although the article in question revolved around the positive aspects of agriculture’s future, many of the photos used are uninspiring. We saw drab, brownfields, and pastures suffering from erosion. Get with it, in 2021 there are loads of Regen Ag Stock Photos!
It would be encouraging to see photos that inspire potential farmers—lush green pastures that yield their bounty to the animals they feed.
- Getting Students Interested Before University—most of the students studying agriculture have some family background in farming.
We’d like to see an increase in attempts to reach students before they reach university age—imagine the innovation that could come from new recruits with no agricultural background.
“When I grow up I want to be a farmer,” says no child nowadays! We need more of this and to normalise being a farmer for the future!
- Yield-Focused Farming—many of the agricultural technologies that manufacturers create focuses on crop yields. This focus doesn’t align with natural farming techniques. I believe that we need to focus on growing quality crops with a high nutritional density instead of large quantities of nutritionally deficient produce.
It’s like eating cardboard, because you can produce a lot, when a steak is much tastier and more nutritious!
- Soilless Food Production—we can all agree that systems like hydroponics and aquaponics have a place in society. However, I don’t believe that should be the main thrust of our efforts.
Raising food without soil is like asking a human to surrender a full life and live in a bare cell. Plants’ basic requirements get met, but they have none of the joy of a natural experience.
With so much life in our soil, why wouldn’t you want your food grown in soil that is connected to the earth and nourishes the human body?
Research shows that the soil food web is vast. Mycorrhizal fungi spread their nets far to gain food for the plants we grow and offer micronutrients. Plants grown in soilless media don’t have access to the natural soil food web. Therefore, while this type of food production is useful, it doesn’t align with our values.
The Last Word
While I’m delighted to see so many changes in agriculture, the future looks bleak if we stick to destructive farming techniques. I love to see people using natural systems.
If we grow food in a way that aligns with its nature, it will sustain us as it should!