In permaculture we teach ecological agriculture.
Ecological agriculture means growing food in diverse systems that are 100% organic (chemical free) and which do not use monocultures. They build and maintain soil fertility through maintaining the right mix of plant species (including nitrogen fixers) on the land all year round and make more use of multifunctional trees and other perennial plants. Any fertilisers or sprays are made from plant materials, such as compost teas or neem insect repellent. It is natural-system-based farming.
Ecological agriculture is truly sustainable – it can regenerate and refertilise the degraded and damaged agricultural soils that cover most of the world, and will allow us to continue producing food on that land indefinitely. Conventional agriculture degrades and depletes the soil, and so cannot continue to feed us, and the “progress” made in agriculture in the last decades has come at an enormous environmental and social cost .
Ecological agriculture also outyields industrial agriculture – it gives a combined and continual yield from land, instead of one or two big monoculture harvests per year. And it is much more efficient in energy and financial terms when we consider the cost and embodied energy of conventional farming’s chemical inputs. Ecological agriculture gives us a much better output for our input.
This has all been proven and agreed upon by the best independent (not paid by the big chemical and seed companies) agricultural researchers in the world (not just the western academics).
In 2009 the UN-sponsored International Assessment on Agricultural Science and Technology in Development (IAASTD) report was published, the result of several years work by over 400 of the worlds top independent researchers compiling evidence from thousands of research projects and case studies around the world. Halfway through writing the report, the biotechnology/GMO companies withdrew their participation from the report because they realised the report was not going to endorse genetic modification of crops, and that its findings and opinions threatened their business interests and the whole chemical industrial agricultural paradigm.
The IAASTD report clearly recommends that ecological agriculture is the only way in which we will be able to continue to feed the current world population.
You can read the IAASTD summary and the whole report by clicking here:
The need for sustainable agriculture is so inevitable, even the UN has to admit it.
“Agroecology outperforms large-scale industrial farming for global food security,” says UN expert. — The United Nations Office at Geneva (<- click here)
In an article (first reported 22 June 2010), UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Professor Olivier De Schutter “makes an airtight case for a global policy shift toward agroecological production.”
Along with 25 of the world’s most renowned experts on agroecology, the UN expert urged the international community to re-think current agricultural policies and build on the potential of agroecology.
The widest study ever conducted on agroecological approaches (Jules Pretty, Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex, UK) covered 286 projects in 57 developing countries, representing a total surface of 37 million hectares: the average crop yield gain was 79%. Concrete examples of ‘agroecological success stories’ abound in Africa. —The United Nations Office at Geneva
You can read 2 excellent articles about this issue on the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia’s website by clicking here: