Cornucopia’s Take: Networks of organic farmers here and abroad are working together to improve farming methods. Many of these innovations show real cost savings and could prove practical, and sustainable, for conventional farmers as well.
Conventional farmers have much to learn from organic farmers, both in terms of improving their sustainability and their profitability, according to Soil Association chief executive Helen Browning.
“Organic farming has a lot to offer because we have been having to do without agro-chemicals for the last 60 or 70 years,” she told this week’s South of England Farming Conference at Ardingly, West Sussex. “We have learned a lot of techniques that can help as the chemistry stops working.”
Examples included addressing the problem of blackgrass and leatherjackets without chemicals, and how to manage no-till systems without glyphosate.
Ms Browning added that most research in agriculture was either “near market” – financed by people with products to sell – or “pure research”, funded by research councils or government.
“There is very little money going into applied research, and virtually none of it is farmer-led,” she said.