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This week we are focusing our newsletter on sustainable farming and the impact agriculture is having on our planet. This information is taken from a report compiled by the WWF called AGRICULTURE: FACTS & TRENDS. It provides an overview of the overwhelming evidence that we need better environmental practices if we want to ensure ongoing productive agricultural systems and food security in South Africa.
Sustainable farming is about meeting the needs of South Africans today and in the future. The recent global rise in food prices and repeated reports about social unrest in a large number of countries reveal the strategic and basic importance of the agricultural sector for social and economic stability.
Declining farming profitability and water scarcity (drought, declining rainfall or over-demand for water) has left South Africa with less than two-thirds of the number of farms it had in the early 1990s. The remaining farms have generally increased their irrigation, fuel, fertiliser, mechanisation and genetically modified seed inputs.
Poorly managed intensive farming has many negative impacts on the natural environment, on people’s well-being and on a farmer’s ability to adapt to change. A dependence and overuse of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides reduces long-term soil fertility, causes soil erosion, pollutes water supplies, poisons fragile ecosystems, exposes farmers and farm workers to toxins, and contributes to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions. The cumulative impact of these factors degrades farmlands and their vital catchment areas. As a result, the long-term productivity declines and these areas become more vulnerable to climate change.
Input costs required for intensive farming are increasing. These costs are also subject to changes in the oil price, the price of raw materials and exchange rate fluctuations, leaving the farmer with little control over his/her affairs.
South Africa has limited fertile land and the majority of crop farmers need to increase the fertility of their soils to achieve good crop yields. Farmers in the fertile areas also need to maintain the fertility of their soils, as frequent cropping depletes the soil of nutrients. How farmers improve or maintain soil fertility is central to the sustainability of their operation.
South Africa requires a more sustainable approach, or the welfare of our nation – both current and future generations – is at risk.
A move towards farm produced organic fertilisers and improved soil fertility would reduce input costs and the vulnerability of farmers to international price fluctuations.
Since ancient times, organic fertilisers (manure, urea, plant matter, bones, shells, lime) have been used to improve soil.
South Africa has a history of change, and is a country that adapts well to social and political changes. Once again we need to draw on our common strengths and our commitment to mobilise our resources and change for the better. We need to realise that all South Africans are affected by the health of our agricultural sector. Sustainable solutions will require collaboration between government, industry, producers and the scientific and conservation community.
Plant life depends utterly on five factors for survival: air, sunlight, water, nutrients and microbes. Use of chemical fertilisers destroys the microbial population in the soils, and leads to a situation where plants can no longer grow without those fertilisers. If the correct balance of microbes is re-introduced to those soils, that process can be completely reversed.
Efficient Microbes products contain the full range of beneficial microbes needed to regenerate soils, increase crop, flower and plant growth and minimise disease. Efficient Microbes Pro-Soil motivates the existing natural microbes in the soil in a regenerative direction, thus replenishing the soil with its own natural ecology rather than introducing an imbalance. All of the micro-organisms in Efficient Microbes products are not genetically modified (non-GMO) and not chemically synthesized.
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