Agroecology: farming for change

Scotland’s farmers and crofters are taking the initiative by adapting their farming methods in ways which will improve soil health and biodiversity and reduce inputs.

That was the finding of a major interdisciplinary survey led by the James Hutton Institute which looked at the uptake of agroecological practices in Scotland and the benefits which they provided for the environment, farm productivity, and ability to cope with external stresses such as climate change.

The Hutton’s Dr Alison Karley said the research highlighted how Scottish agriculture could lead the way in food system transformation to create socially and ecologically sustainable systems that were also economically viable.

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Dr Luz-Maria Lozada said that the survey had involved 192 interviews aimed at gauging the uptake and effect of agroecology practices, including alternative farming approaches such as regenerative, organic, permaculture, and Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF).

Sue Pritchard, Chief Executive of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, said the work showed that farmers could be a force for change, adapting to new practices to develop resilient and diverse businesses fit for the future:

"Our Farming for Change evidence shows agroecology works - now it's time for government to show support for finance, knowledge and skills that meet the needs of these innovators and address the triple challenge of the nature, health and climate crises."

The work will be presented to stakeholders including the Scottish Parliament's Cross Party Group on Food, to highlight the role of here the role of agroecology in creating alternative food production systems, supporting rural livelihoods and promoting healthy diets while adapting to and mitigating climate change.

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