The world faces the challenge of increasing food production by 60% by 2050 to meet the growing food demands from 9 billion people. While doing this we must also reverse land degradation, adapt to climate change AND reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
To meet these challenges we need to transform our food systems so that they become part of the solution, not part of the problem. Ecological thinking is critical.
Ecological agriculture, or agroecology, forms the knowledge base for regenerative food systems. Agroecology is a multidisciplinary field that includes 'hard' science (biology, chemistry, soil science, climate science, ecology), applied science (agronomy, forestry, animal sciences, geography) and 'soft' science (psychology, communication, education, sociology, anthropology). Agroecology integrates landscapes, agriculture & people.
Already, innovative farmers and other food businesses have joined the regenerative agriculture movement and have begun the transition. AIEA is about supporting the movement and helping to make regenerative practices become normal practices.
At the heart of agriculture are communities and the people that make up those communities. Our values, ethics and beliefs strongly influence how we see the world, see agriculture and how we farm. Unless we start to think more ecologically then it will be hard to build new farming and food systems based on a regenerative approach. A key objective of the AIEA is to help people build skills in ecological thinking so we can solve the problems of agriculture and forestry with sustainable long term solutions.
Grazing eco-innovators are using short duration, high intensity stocking followed by long periods of rest to regenerate grasslands whilst generating a profit from their grazing animals. This grazing strategy encourages the return of productive, palatable and nutritious perennial grass species which over time create many ecological and economic benefits.
Once the grassland has been regenerated, land managers can add enterprises to their existing grazing enterprise, such as grass seed harvest, paddock eggs, paddock pigs, pasture or no-kill cropping and tree crops. These enterprises can use the grassland as their productive base because it provides improved soil stability, water infiltration and nutrient cycling.
This approach can change animal productions from being a net emitters to being net absorber of greenhouse gases. It can reduce or remove the need to use herbicides and insecticides,and can be done with little or no fertilizer application.