In the Western World we have left the job of agricultural research to private businesses. The problem with this is that the multinational companies doing research are only interested in developing products to sell to farmers, you can't blame them for that. This means that very little research in being done into practices that will bring about greater productivity with less inputs. This void is being filled by an increasing number of small businesses created by individuals from a scientific background and with a passion to return agriculture to a sustainable basis. It could be argued that from the 1960s, state Agriculture Departments allowed themselves to become the advertising arm of multinational chemical companies. The companies provided the departments with their products to do trial work which became the basis for accepted agricultural practice. This can change, but only if thinking people like you make it happed by how you choose to spend your money
Organic farming is sometimes dismissed as being unscientific, this is absolutely false, there is great scope for quality scientific work in relation to organic farming practices. Because organic farming practices can't be patented by the agro chemical companies they attempt to use scientific arguments to discredit organic farming practices. In Australia we have stuffed thousands of acres of farmland in little over 50 years, while using up non renewable mineral fertalisers and at the same time flooding commodity markets with our grains. Perhaps we should be looking to ancient farming practices for guidance. The ABC Country Hours Richard Hudson ran an interesting program on this subject on 17 Sept 2009, talking to professor of sustainability Haikai Tane, click to listen .
Australians are fortunate to have a government funded national broadcaster, the ABC that is able to present stories in the national interest, sadly unlike, our national research organisations that have become pawns of multinational chemical companies. The Australian Story program raised awareness of the work of Peter Andrews on Natural Sequence Farming and more recently of Dr Maarten Stapper who is doing ground breaking work on agricultural practices but has shunned by the research establishment. Dr Stappers work is summed up by the following quote taken directly from the home page of his website:
The internet is providing a free exchange of ideas, unlike the "old media" that was controlled by vested interests. This website aimes to contribute to distribution of ideas pertaining to sustainable agricultural practice.
Through Maarten's research work, discussions with Landcare groups and a wide range of farmers, he has come to the belief that science must take a broader view to achieve the sustainable development of agricultural industries.
To achieve this we have to look at the whole farming system - where every thing is linked to everything else. (Stappers M. 2010)