Innovative farming methods

Angus MP Mike Weir has met with a group of innovative farmers practising agroecology at an exhibition, opened by farming minister David Heath at the House of Commons.

Agroecology uses biological techniques to improve farming and takes into account the social and economic context within which farming takes place. The approach is based on ecological systems, using them to build soil structure and fertility and manage pest and diseases.

The farmers were from a diverse assortment of farms ranging from dairy to horticulture, traditional mixed farms and even agroforestry, combining trees and crops. They explained the wide variety of techniques they use to ensure their farms are productive and efficient, while also producing a range of benefits to society and the environment. They are also mindful of economic reality, explaining that using farm management methods grounded in biology makes sound financial sense too.

Commenting after attending the Mr Weir said: “Farming is, of course, a very important industry in Angus and we have a wide range of farming activities throughout the county, many making very strenuous efforts to farm in a more ecological manner.

“What was fascinating about the farmers I met was the obvious enthusiasm not only for more environmentally sustainable agriculture, but also in added value to their produce.

“The recent horse meat scandal has increased the interest from everyone in knowing more about where their food comes from and how it is produced. “

Tom Chapman, one of the farmers, said: “As farmers, we have a choice. We can either fight nature or we can work hand-in-hand with it. Our grandfathers and great grandfathers worked with nature; they had little choice! However, for the best part of 80 years we have been fighting nature.

“For me, agroecology isn’t turning our back on 21st century science. Instead it is about understanding how the natural world operates and then tailoring our activities to be ‘in sync’ with nature. As a result our reliance on artificial props reduces and their use becomes more targeted and case-specific.”