When you hear the term "Green Farming" a lot of things spring to mind. Are you farming the kind of spinach Popeye would be proud of? Is the whole farm painted green, or are you growing some new variety of food that is simply called "green"?
In reality, it is none of those things.
Green farming is also known as “agroecology”. It refers to changes and advances in more traditional farming practices to reduce the environmental impact and carbon emissions. Green farming is best described as farming that “centres on food production that makes the best use of nature’s goods and services while not damaging these resources”.
What are the issues with traditional farming?
Green farming is becoming more popular as the ecological impact of traditional farming is becoming more widely understood. Large-scale industrial agriculture is responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions and also contributes to deforestation and water pollution.
Here are some stats to highlight the big issues with traditional farming:
Animal agriculture accounts for 20-33% of global freshwater consumption,
Agricultural emissions are expected to increase 80% by the year 2050,
Globally, cows collectively produce 150 billion gallons of methane a day,
2500 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef,
Livestock covers 45% of the Earth’s total land,
A farm of 2500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people.
Those are some pretty scary statistics, and really bring home the need to do things differently.
The 3 aspects of green farming
So, how can we reduce those statistics and adopt greener farming practices?
These are the 3 aspects that we should focus on...
Farming: farming methods and practices are based on principles of sustainable agriculture. They aim to provide enough food to the growing global population, to reduce the use of non-renewable energy sources, and to support local growers and communities. All of this should be done without harming the environment or natural resources.
Social movement: the growing network of green and organic farming organisations has become a social movement in and of itself. It promotes a back-to-nature approach that aims to transform the way we grow food. Traditional farming methods are described by these organisations as “Farming the land as if nature doesn’t matter”. In stark contrast, green farming aims to encourage more ecologically conscious practices, and educate consumers about the importance of supporting green agribusiness.
Science: the science behind green farming and agroecology is holistic. It considers agricultural ecosystems in terms of their productivity, stability, sustainability, and equitability. This comes as representatives from many scientific disciplines have been increasingly concerned with loss of resources, climate change, biodiversity, and human health.
What the theory means in practice
Green farming practices will vary from place to place, but will likely consist of:
re-localising the sourcing of food that moves the consumer closer to the farmer. In turn this allows better prices and more local jobs,
reducing the amount of industrial processes involved in food production,
improving the condition of soil and organic matter,
using compost as fertilisers,
eliminating the use of pesticides and non-organic chemicals,
minimising resource loss.
What it means for consumers
Green farming gives consumers a choice. As the impacts of traditional farming methods are becoming better understood, many consumers are considering whether they should be reducing their dependency on meat and dairy products, and making more informed decisions about what they buy.
A completely vegan lifestyle is not likely to suit everyone. But, new farming practices will mean a more intermediary ground is available. Consumers can choose to support greener organisations and farmers to lessen their own carbon footprint.
These new ideas for farming are not only for the benefit of one group. Instead, they support systems that empower consumers and farmers. It continues discussion and awareness around the current “normal” for agribusiness and how it is impacting on both environmental and human health.
Want to develop your rural site?
With consumer demand growing for more green production, many people are looking at alternative ways to make a living from rural land. This may require a resource consent. If you have a development in mind for your rural site, get in contact with our experienced team to discuss your plans. A little time and assessment upfront can save you lots of time and money later!