“As farmers, we are stewards of the land. It is our responsibility to ensure that as caretakers we treat it with respect and leave it in a better condition for future generations” – Bonnen Biggs, Suiderland Farm
At Trace & Save we believe in placing integrity to our claims of addressing sustainability on farms. One of the ways we do this is by using the concept of measured agricultural sustainability using the SWAN system.
The average water use across farms is therefore 911 litres of water per litre of milk. The main point I would like to make though is that the water use efficiency varies between the different farm systems.
Trace and Save’s sustainability measures ensure the consumer that the box of milk they buy is sourced from a farm that treats animals and the environment well.
Did you know that dairy cows can be carbon neutral? Yes, I am talking about greenhouse gas emissions neutral. I know it seems crazy.
Animal welfare is certainly a subject about which most people will have something to say. Most people’s opinions are firmly held and are based on their beliefs, culture and traditions, rather than on factual evidence. The broader community needs to understand that animal welfare is a very complex and multifaceted subject which cannot be reduced to one box.
The SWAN system is composed of soil, water, atmosphere and nutrient components. The best way to show how these integrated and interrelated measures reflect the journey of improving agricultural sustainability is to show a case study of a farm which has become more sustainable over the past five years.
The reality is that adapting agricultural practices when the drought is already upon us is actually too late. Sustainable agriculture should be a way of life.
What I want to discuss is the difference between putting ideas into practice in a manner that just ticks the box and putting ideas into practice in a manner that brings about tangible results.
Nitrogen alone cannot carry the responsibilities of other nutrients in the plant. That is why farmers need to have a balance of all essential plant nutrients in order to archive optimal growth.
It is going to take considerable effort from researchers, consultants and farmers, and a commitment to developing farm systems which better mimic nature, but I am hopeful for the future of sustainable agriculture in South Africa.
The benefits of multispecies pasture are not only limited to the benefits mentioned in this blog, they are far greater. I have isolated these ones because they are the most pertinent and directly relate to farm profitability.