21/02/19 - New research shows a substainably farmed Europe can feed a growing population a healthy diet Europe could be farmed entirely through sustainable systems, such as organic, and still feed a growing population, claims recent research. The ‘Ten Years for Agroecology’ study, from European think tank IDDRi, shows that pesticides can be phased out and greenhouse gas emissions radically reduced in Europe through agroecological farming - which would still produce enough healthy food for a growing population. With more than half the cereals and oilseed crops grown being fed to animals, the report argues that we have to reorientate diets towards plant-based proteins and pasture-fed livestock, away from grain-fed white meat. There is no doubt that intensive agrichemical farming has contributed to a steep decline in global insect populations, birdlife, and ecosystem degradation - much of it linked to pesticide use. The report argues that the next 10 years will be critical in engaging Europe in this agroecological transition.
09/10/18 - IPCC Report: Food and Farming now in the hot seat on climate change Yesterday’s IPCC report sets the world a clear target: we must limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels to avoid devastating impacts and tipping points for runaway climate change. This means reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by mid-century. The report is a wake-up call to governments across the globe. More than any previous IPCC report, it is also a wake-up call for farming and for public health. Human health risks and crop yields are two of the major impact areas that become dangerously high if temperatures rise beyond 1.5 degrees.
27/06/18 - 'Closed Loop' Agriculture for the 21st Century Keeping animals is an important part of the system of agriculture now known in the 21st century as ‘closed loop agriculture’. The principle is that the farm recycles all nutrients and organic matter back to the soil – this preserves the nutrient and carbon levels within the soil and allows farming to be carried out on a sustainable basis using less inputs.
04/06/18 - New methane emissions metric proposed for climate change policy A new paper published today has outlined a better way to think about how methane and other gases contribute to greenhouse gas emissions budgets. This is an important step towards evaluating the warming from methane emissions when developing strategies to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. “We don’t actually need to give up eating meat to stabilise global temperatures,” says Professor Myles Allen of the Oxford Martin School who led the study (meat production is a major source of methane). “We just need to stop increasing our collective meat consumption. But we do need to give up dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. Every tonne of CO2 emitted is equivalent to a permanent increase in the methane emission rate. Climate policies could be designed to reflect this.”
20/04/18 - Back to the wild! How letting Mother Nature reclaim prime farmland and allowing cattle and ponies to run free produced breathtaking results. Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex, 45 miles from Central London. "Giving up intensive farming on our 3,500 acres had been a difficult, but unavoidable, decision; on desperately poor soil - heavy clay - we rarely made a profit and had worked up an eye-watering overdraft. Inspired by a rewilding experiment in Holland, we’d sold our dairy herds and farm machinery, stepped back and allowed nature to take the driving seat - the first project of its kind in Britain."
28/09/16 - RADIO: Costing the Earth: The Growing Season(28 mins) The Met Office recently issued a report which states that the growing season in the UK is now one month longer than it was in the 1960's. Keen gardeners may notice that spring bulbs are coming up much earlier and that fruit like apples are flowering sooner in the year whilst some farmers can now bring in their harvest before the end of the summer. Peter Gibbs discovers that whilst there are opportunities for growers in more Northerly latitudes rapid changes globally may put yields of vital crops at risk. The UK's gardeners, crop scientists and farmers are not simply sitting back and admitting defeat though. A changing climate is a challenge which many growers are busy preparing for.
11/05/16 - The gangsters on England's doorstep In the bleak flatlands of East Anglia, migrant workers are controlled by criminal gangs, and some are forced to commit crimes to pay off their debts. This is what happens when cheap labour is our only priority by Felicity Lawrence
28/03/16 - Crossing Continents: Romania: The Shepherds Revolt (28 mins) Lucy Ash asks why thousands of angry Romanian shepherds recently stormed the parliament in Bucharest. Sparked by an amendment to Romania's hunting law, the unprecedented protest was over plans to limit numbers of sheepdogs and restrict grazing rights. The increasing size of flocks is leading to growing conflict with both hunters and conservationists over land use. Romania has an influential hunting lobby - around two thirds of MPs are hunters - and they accuse shepherds dogs of scaring off or sometimes even killing their quarry. They also claim overgrazing is damaging the natural habitat of the deer, the boar and other wild animals they hunt. Environmental campaigners are concerned that winter grazing by ever larger flocks is having a catastrophic effect on biodiversity. At heart this is an argument about what the countryside is for. Is its main purpose an economic one? Is it primarily for leisure? Or should it be about the people who live there? Shepherds insist the law is an attack on centuries of sheep-rearing and their culture and traditions.
14/03/15 - Plymouth study finds bumblebees prefer road-facing hedgerows as pesticides damage habitats Research by ecologists at Plymouth University has shown some of the most common species of bumblebees are more than twice as likely to visit flowers on the road-facing side of hedgerows compared to crop-facing boundaries. Scientists examined bumblebee habits at 30 sites across Devon and Cornwall, and found a simple solution would be for farmers to leave a bigger gap between crops and hedgerows.
06/01/15 - Interview with Dr Elaine Ingham (1 hr 52mins), keynote speaker at the 2015 Oxford Real Farming Conference about the importance of the Soil Food Web including the avoidance of tillage to protect the microbiology of the soil.
04/01/15 - 2015 Oxford Real Farming Conference: power, lies, and agrarian resistance As thousands rely on food banks to make it through the winter and a milk price crash threatens the survival of Britain's independent dairy farmers, Colin Tudge - co-founder of this week's Oxford Real Farming Conference - examines the growing need for an agrarian renaissance to tackle the increasingly obvious failings of neoliberal agriculture. "The small traditional farms that are so despised and routinely swept aside still produce 50% of the world's food, while 20% comes from fishing, hunting, and people's back gardens."
16/10/14 - Microdairies: remember milk with a creamy top? Will microdairying lead to a boom in local and artisan milk? A new breed of small dairy farms (such as North Aston Dairy), who process and brand their milk themselves, is emerging. They bypass the big dairy companies and supermarkets and sell it through doorstep deliveries, local shops and even vending machines: it is the polar opposite of the trend towards ever bigger herds and American-style mega-dairies, where 1,000 or more cows are reared, largely indoors, to keep costs down and meet supermarket demand for cheap milk.
03/05/14 - The beleaguered Co-operative Group has insisted that it wants a single major corporate buyer for its portfolio of British farms, and will not consider community buyouts. This dashes the hopes of green campaigners, who are calling the move a "panic sale" that leaves the way open for Chinese buyers to snap up the land.
20/03/14 - Halt the Co-op Farm sale - save the co-operative tradition The Co-operative Group is in deep trouble. Its response is to sell off its farms, in defiance of all its founding values.
06/01/14 - 2014 Oxford Real Farming Conference Summaries & Slides.
27/09/13 - Do the UN's new numbers for livestock emissions kill the argument for vegetarianism? IPCC guidelines shaped the latest report on livestock emissions, and while estimates are lower than before, vegetarians can stand their ground. Yesterday the UN Food and Agriculture Organization made a timely announcement, in light of today's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Using the IPCC's new guidelines for calculating greenhouse gas production, they show that the meat and dairy industry could reduce its emissions by up to 30%.
01/09/13 - RADIO: On Your Farm As a trial badger cull is underway in parts of Somerset, and is likely to start in parts of Gloucestershire, Caz Graham joins the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust vaccinating badgers against bovine TB on Greystones Farm in Bourton-on-the-Water. The trust has embarked on a five year trial, vaccinating badgers on two sites in Gloucestershire to test the vaccine's efficacy. Their staff trap badgers and inject them with a BCG vaccine, before releasing them back into the wild. Caz visits farmers in the surrounding area to gauge their opinions on both the cull and badger vaccination as ways to tackle the problem of TB in cattle.
21/08/13 - Should pig swill from waste food be back on the menu? Pigs are the most efficient converter of food waste to calories - we need calories in this world to feed growing populations, but in the meantime all pigs throughout Europe are being fed soya which is being grown in the Amazon basin. Rainforests are crucial, but we are chopping them down to feed our pigs and it is just crazy.
13/06/13 - Glyphosate briefings: reason for concern Glyphosate is the world's best-selling weed killer and one of the most widely used herbicides in Europe. It is crucial for growing genetically modified (GM) crops, many of which are modified to withstand glyphosate. Concerns surround the safety of glyphosate particularly about its effect on human health, particularly on the hormone system, and its impact on the wider environment.
05/06/13 - The Pig Idea: Let them eat waste The campaign calls for waste food to go back on the menu for pig. The Pig Idea, launched today on World Environment Day, calls for change to the way we feed our pigs. Initiated by chef Thomasina Miers and food waste expert from Feeding the 5000, Tristram Stuart, the campaign aims to put food waste back on the menu for British pigs, and lobby to change European law in the long term, so that we can return to the traditional practice of feeding our surplus waste food to pigs.
20/02/13 - Reconnecting with Pastoral farming. The solution to meeting the challenge of tomorrow’s food production would therefore seem to be right under our noses, or at least those of our cows and sheep. We use the ability of ruminant cattle and sheep to make the best potential use out of grassland and use good productive arable land to grow crops such as cereals and soya, not as cattle feed with all of its associated inefficiencies, but for direct human consumption.
09/02/13 - VIDEO: Colin Tudge talks about GM and the case of Mark Lynas (8 mins)
03/01/13 - Oxford Farming Conference - Soil Association response to Owen Paterson/Mark Lynas talks Speaking from the Oxford Farming Conference, Tom Macmillan, innovation director at the Soil Association, responded to comments by the author Mark Lynas and Defra Secretary of State Owen Paterson.
03/01/13 - GM crops not the answer to our food challenges Commenting on Environment Secretary Owen Paterson's assertion at the Oxford Farming Conference today (3 January 2013) that the British public should be persuaded of the benefits of genetically modified food, Friends of the Earth's senior food and farming campaigner Clare Oxborrow said:
- GM crops are not the solution to the food challenges we face. They are largely being developed to benefit multinational biotech firms that are gaining control of the seed industry, not to feed poor people in developing countries.
- World food production needs a radical overhaul, but this should be based on less intensive practices that increase agricultural diversity, deliver resilience to the impacts of climate change and benefit local communities.
- We must also switch to more sustainable diets globally, including reducing meat-consumption in wealthy nations and an end to food crops being used for biofuels.
05/03/12 - TV: BBC Panorama - The Money Farmers Samantha Poling reveals how millions of pounds of public money are being paid out to businessmen and millionaire farmers in an abuse of the farming subsidy system. Investors tell us how they have been paid without having to do any farming at all.
14/06/11 - Michael Hart, a conventional livestock family farmer, has been farming in Cornwall for nearly thirty years and has actively campaigned on behalf of family farmers for over fifteen years, travelling extensively in Europe, India, Canada and the USA. In this short documentary he investigates the reality of farming genetically modified crops in the USA ten years after their introduction. He travels across the US interviewing farmers and other specialists about their experiences of growing GM.
04/04/09 - TV: BBC Natural World - A Farm for the Future (Clips) Wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family’s farm in Devon into a low energy farm for the future. Realising that all food production in the UK is completely dependent on abundant cheap fossil fuel, particularly oil, she sets out to discover just how secure this oil supply is. Alarmed by the answers, she explores ways of farming without using fossil fuel. With the help of pioneering farmers and growers, Rebecca learns that it is actually nature that holds the key to farming in a low-energy future.
13/04/06 - Healthy diet for badgers might solve bovine TB. Feeding badgers is probably lowest on many TB affected farmers' priorities, but ensuring they have adequate minerals could be key to eliminating TB. Dick Roper, of Broadfield Farms, Eastington, Northleach, believes the disease is caused by a selenium and vitamin E deficiency in the maize diet of both badgers and cattle.
TV: BBC Mud, Sweat and Tractors: The Story of Agriculture Documentary series looking at the history of 20th century farming in Britain.
Greenpeace, Golden Rice and vitamin A deficiency Since GM Golden Rice was presented, solutions such as growing vegetables alongside rice and taking vitamin A supplements have proven to be very good working solutions for vitamin A deficiency in places like Bangladesh. "Genetically Engineered rice could, if introduced on a large scale, exacerbate malnutrition and undermine food security because it encourages a diet based on a single industrial staple food rather than upon the re-introduction of the many vitamin-rich food plants with high nutritional value that are cheap and already available," says Professor Klaus Becker, from University of Hohenheim, Germany.