A report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in August 2019, looked at the relationship between climate change and land use, showcasing the need for a shift to sustainable farming systems that focus on soil condition, carbon storage and biodiversity. The report stated “soils now hold just 1% of the planet's total carbon, but they once contained as much as 7%. Land must remain productive to maintain food security as the population increases.”
Clearly, agriculture has a huge role to play in solving some of these environmental problems, such as reducing the 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions that currently stem from conventional agricultural practices. Large-scale, monoculture food production is not only unsustainable, it is also becoming increasingly risky due to climate change and poorer returns on investment.
“soils now hold just 1% of the planets total carbon, but they once contained as much as 7%. Land must remain productive to maintain food security as the population increases.”
In order to address this imbalance we need to look at new solutions. Having personally experienced losing crops to pests and weather events, not making a return and being in debt, I’ve come to the conclusion that farmers and communities working together in micro-farming situations is the way of the future and can regenerate agriculture in a positive way. This new way of farming includes embracing new technologies, such as GROWtunnels, which reduce crop losses. This method of farming is an affordable solution and gives a viable entry-point into farming, reducing the capital required needed to buy large acreage and expensive farm machinery.
Micro-farming through GROWtunnels means farmers can harvest rainwater from the GROWtunnels roof, using it to irrigate their crops. Damage to crops and soil erosion through heavy rain events is prevented through the protection GROWtunnels provide, in addition to keeping unwanted bugs out and reducing the incidence of disease. A GROWtunnel farming system means crops are grown in biologically rich soil, sequestering carbon, regenerating the land and producing healthy, nutrient dense food for our communities.
Just a few of the many benefits of this farming model is that it is replicable in developed and developing countries, can be carried out on marginal land and will play a huge role in abating climate change whilst producing organic, locally-grown food. This leads to reduced food miles and reliance on synthetic chemical inputs, which are very energy intensive to produce.
Our GROWtunnels can produce large amounts of food in a small area, with a relatively low entry cost, offering employment opportunities to communities around the globe; empowering and weaving communities back together through the collective process of growing their own food. We have to make radical changes to how food is produced and distributed in order to meet the increasing challenges of climate change. An increase in localised organic farming systems, feeding local communities with low-impact food would help achieve this, being recognised by the United Nations (UN) as a solution to climate change.
Alasdair Smithson is Co Founder, Director and Head of Agriculture at Grow.