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The workshop will look at on-farm alternatives to soya as a protein source and alternative soya products not associated with deforestation.
Feeding pigs and poultry entirely on organic and regionally sourced feed is a long-held ambition of many organic and agroecological farmers. OK-Net EcoFeed, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 scheme, is helping them achieve this goal.
In this workshop, we look at two systems which could replace soya as a protein source: insects and duckweed, and we hear from a farmer aiming to produce eggs from a soya free diet in the UK.
We also explore the potential for European soya to be used as an alternative to US and South American soya bean meal, reducing emissions associated with transport while growing soya on existing arable land and without causing deforestation.
In the 1990s, famine in North Korea killed 3 million people; many surviving children “lacked full cognitive ability”. Rice yields had more than halved, falling from eight tonnes per hectare down to three tonnes due to a misplaced faith in artificial fertiliser and other agro-chemicals and widespread abandonment of grassland, livestock and crop rotations. The soil had died and physically collapsed. Globally, the farming industry remains dependent on these chemicals, leading to widespread decline in soil fertility and structure.
But there is emerging recognition of the soil as a living, thriving ecosystem hosting around a quarter of the world’s biodiversity and providing the fundamental bridge for plants (hence all terrestrial ecosystems) to obtain essential nutrients from the soil. This underground and largely invisible world – a universe beneath our feet – is a vast community of life with its immeasurable intricacies interacting with such complexity that our understanding is still only the tip of the iceberg.
The functionality and productivity of both our natural and agricultural landscapes are intimately intertwined and completely dependent on the ecosystem services that soils provide. Learning from the North Korean experience, this session will focus on giving a broad understanding of the amazing soil bugs that sustain us and how we, in return, can sustain them.
Many grass-fed/regenerative farmers have been “going against the grain” for years. There are signs this is changing as more farmers are looking at regenerative techniques, especially with changing subsidies in the UK. US ranchers Doniga Markegard and Will Harris are leading the field when it comes to grass-based farming systems and regenerative land management.
Will Harris took the leap 20 years ago. He is a sixth generation farmer on his family farm in Bluffton, Georgia. In 2000, his farm, White Oak Pastures, was a conventionally-run commodity cattle farm with high levels of pesticides, fertilisers, hormones and antibiotics in use. Today, it is mixed-farming system home to cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry and rabbits, managed using methods that have been around for centuries.
Doniga Markegard has a background in wildlife tracking and permaculture. She has applied those keen observational skills as a regenerative rancher. Her and her family transitioned to direct market grass-fed 15 years ago and they now sell grass-fed beef, grass-fed lamb, pasture-raised pork and pasture-raised chicken. The family stewards 10,000 acres of coastal grasslands on the other side of the US from Will, in the San Francisco Bay Area. She believes in large-scale restoration of western rangelands through mimicking nature, learning from indigenous stewards while producing nutrient dense meats. Her family is featured in the documentary Kiss the Ground, currently on Netflix.
Jairo Restrepo is a passionate educator and activist, known throughout South America for his practical support of small farmers as well as his campaigns for their rights in the face of powerful agribusiness. He is unique in that he argues for farmers’ autonomy and self-determination but also teaches an array of practical technologies and preparations to increase soil fertility and transform cropping. He offers tools and inspiration for farmers and activists alike.
In this talk, Jairo will cover the effects of industrial agriculture on our soils, diet and ultimately on our souls. After many years of working as a government scientist, he does not reject technology but wants us to recognise farmers as guardians, innovators, researchers and quiet revolutionaries. He writes, “We don’t want to change technology; we want to transform society, thereby changing the technological proposal. Today the opposite occurs, the dominant type of technology proposes a society subjugated to industry. My dream is to construct a being, an ideal state of a being, so that I shall not be the ideal being of the State".
Drawing from his knowledge of biochemistry, Jairo has developed a set of low-tech practices that help remineralise the soil and increase photosynthesis through the use of biofertilisers. These have been widely adopted throughout South America and are now spreading in Africa, America and Europe. His talk will cover some examples of this work and the impact it has on living systems and human diet.
Goats play a transformative role around the world, particularly in harsh environments - reflecting climate, vegetation or conflict. They transform the most indigestible plant material into meat, milk and skins and are also increasing the economic independence and resilience of rural women.
Rothamsted is researching the role of goats in smallholder systems in Malawi and Botswana - focused on nutrition, socioeconomics and parasitology (through targeted selective treatment using metabolites from bioactive plants). Goats have always been a priority for Farm Africa, providing them to vulnerable women living in rural eastern Africa - supported by animal health and business development services, empowering them to increase incomes and improve their families' nutrition.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Bristol’s Street Goat connects families and individuals with the joys of working with animals and nature - increasing understanding of their food. Local people collectively manage and care for them in urban areas, producing sustainable and healthy animal food products reared on overgrown and unusable urban land.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 500
Join us - a panel of nine women ranchers across the US - for a facilitated weaving of conversation on the creative, collaborative, and diverse approaches to leadership within ranching communities and land stewardship. Hear stories of how self inquiry and experience are mapping a radically different path forward in a commitment to care for land. Connected through the Women in Ranching community across the western United States, the women on this panel are each shifting the world toward a more remarkable vision of what’s possible. This simple yet profound process of robust conversation is one of the most important efforts we can do to reconnect us to each other, to the land, and to our food system.
In this conversation, we’ll explore the work to solve complex ecological and social challenges in ranching communities such as land access, vital relationships, growing the next generation, failure and vulnerability, marginalized and silenced peoples, equitable and non-traditional funding to cash-flow a startup ranching business, interconnectedness of soil, grass, grazing, diversity, equity, recognition, inclusion, honoring lands for medicines and healing, and how being in relationship with land and collaborating with other life offers openings for renewing the spirit.
To accommodate the number of speakers, this session will be on Zoom and run for 90 minutes.
There is a paradox in ‘conventional’ agriculture around the world: growers apply high volumes of nitrogen fertilisers and pesticides in order to promote and protect yields, but pests and pathogens (P&Ps) continue to challenge food security. In this session, a team from the University of Edinburgh will share their recent work that focuses on the biochemistry of crops and offers new explanations as to why this occurs.
Their findings support the conclusions of the French agronomist, Francis Chaboussou, whose translated book: ‘Healthy Crops, A new Agricultural Revolution’ (2004) is now being relaunched online. All their conclusions lead away from the treadmill of pesticides towards ecological ways of farming.
Indigenous food systems, both in pre-Columbian times and now, are poorly understood by the Western world. Over the millenia, Indigenous food scientists have generated a wealth of biodiversity within the global food system, with 70% of the world's variety of foods come from the Americas. Indigenous peoples perfected–in hundreds of types of bioregions and ecotones)–low energy input-high energy output land management practices. For example, the Haíɫzaqv (ˈheɪltsək) Nation of British Columbia, Canada hand plant massive kelp forests along the shoreline to generate more surface area/spawning ground for herring fish. Their eggs/roe provide a massive caloric foundation for the entire island system, ultimately feeding sea lions, whales, salmon, wolves, birds, humans and more. Indigenous food systems are about life. Reinvigorating systems that give health and vitality not only to human beings but to all lifeforms, who are not seen as resources, but as relatives who we must relate to on a nation to nation basis.
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Find out how grazing on the bioactive forages might be the answer to effective, reliable worm control – a crucial insight as anthelmintic resistance becomes an increasing issue for sheep farmers. We focus on research and trials exploring bioactive forages (heather, chicory and Lucerne), and nematophagus fungi.
With anthelmintic resistance becoming an increasing issue, and reducing reliance on contentious inputs an important goal, finding alternative worm controls has become a growing area of research.
In this session, we talk to researchers and farmers trialling alternative approaches to worm control, as part of the RELACS programme. Having ‘set the scene’ technically, looking at the current state of anthelmintic use, we go on to look in details at farm trials and research into replacements. Panellists share data from recent surveys, plus information on bioactive forages (such as heather, chicory, Lucerne) and nematophagus fungi.
We then open the floor for a Q&A session, and a chance for participants to ask questions and share their experiences and knowledge.