A new approach to sustainable food production.
As the saying goes, we live in interesting times. The pandemic has impacted upon all our lives, and will shape our futures and plans.
During all the restrictions, the importance of our food supply has been highlighted and perhaps put a little more focus on home production. This is an opportunity for farming, but it arises at a time when, post brexit, farm support systems are facing major changes, with greater emphasis on environmental concerns. It is also a time when zero carbon targets have come to the fore and farming systems need to adapt to meet these. Thus there is clearly an emphasis on food production, but it must be within environmental considerations. Those farmers who are both willing and able to adapt must do so, though it is clear to many that some further restructuring of the sector is inevitable.
Within government circles, one of the key words now often spoken is integrated – the need to take an integrated approach to challenges, to produce multi-benefits through careful planning and allocation of resources. So, again, it is an opportunity, but can farming adopt integrated approaches to maintain farmers’ livelihoods and produce the multi-benefits sought?
Integrated farm management (IFM) is a whole-farm business approach that aims to deliver more sustainable farming. It seeks to combine the best of modern technology with traditional methods to help deliver viable farming that enriches the environment and engages local communities. This is fairly simple to say, but can it really work? There are many examples of its practice on a world scale, but how can it apply here in the UK?