A big challenge
Making food available for everyone without damaging the environment is one of the biggest challenges today.
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Did you know…
Growing, transporting, storing, packing, cooking and disposing of food creates over 30% of global CO₂ emissions?
Farming uses 92% of all fresh water used annually, covers over a third of the world’s land and the world’s population is rising ever higher – that’s lots of hungry mouths to feed!
Artificial or organic fertiliser? That is the question! See how sustainable farming can actually improve agriculture in Australia in this video from Woolworths.
Facts about Australian farming*
- Farms take up 60% of Australian land
- 15% of people employed in Australia work in food supply
- 60 million people are fed by Australia’s farming and fisheries industries
- 90% of fresh produce sold in Australia is produced here too
- 361kgs of food waste is generated per person on average in Australia each year
Why sustainable farming?
While the need for food is increasing, farmers across Australia are being encouraged to work more sustainably with their surrounding environment. This will make the industry less wasteful, more profitable and, most importantly, will help to preserve surrounding wildlife.
In being more sustainable, farms have the potential to last for many generations whilst meeting consumer demands. From improved water conservation to a reduction of chemicals, there are already many things that farmers are doing to boost sustainable farming.
In Queensland, farmers have been working with scientists to create ‘aquaponics’ farming systems to grow vegetables. This means that plants are grown in rows of troughs, filled with recycled water from previous crops.
In Victoria, they are building aquaponic systems that circulate water between fish tanks and plant crops. The fish are fed a constant supply of naturally purified water from the plant tanks and the fish produce nutritious waste that is fed back to the crops.
This is an example of a self-sustaining farm system, which improves water and energy use. This is one way to reduce the carbon footprint of farming.
One of the biggest growers of avocados in Australia is going sustainable to fight the diseases that affect their trees – like root rot. Instead of using more artificial chemicals called fungicides, they are using an organic mix taken from sugarcane plants and organic waste (which can be anything that comes from plants or animals that can naturally break down or ‘biodegrade’). This improves the health of the trees with as little damage as possible to the wildlife around. With stronger trees the farm will use less water and reduce the use of chemical sprayers and other machinery.
Keeping it local (and organic!)
A way to reduce that carbon footprint is to sell locally and use less artificial chemicals. If fruit and vegetables were distributed more efficiently there would be less carbon produced in transportation and no need for chemicals or excessive refrigeration to help preserve them..
What is the carbon footprint behind a single tomato? Find out at ‘A Little Local Knowledge – Local Harvest’
As the demand for food has grown the use of chemicals like artificial fertilisers and pesticides has gone up too, but with little good effect. With more natural options, farmers can save money, care for waterways and protect vital habitats.
More about Sustainability:
*Information from the Australian Government: National Food Plan