A new research paper said the UK should follow in the footsteps of countries such as West Africa, India and Bangladesh who were more willing to redesign their systems.
Farmers in the UK have been found to be ‘lagging behind’ those in developing countries in making their sector more sustainable.
This was according to a new research paper which said while 29 per cent of all worldwide farms had crossed a redesign threshold to incorporate sustainable agriculture to boost food production and biodiversity, the UK needed to ‘catch up in terms of introducing more sustainable agricultural practices’.
It said although the UK had seen a 6 per cent rise in the organic sector – specifically meat and dairy – farmers should also be looking at methods including integrated pest management, conservation agriculture, and pasture and forage systems.
The UK should follow in the footsteps of countries such as West Africa, India and Bangladesh who were more willing to redesign their systems, it added.
Professor Nic Lampkin, chief executive of the Organic Research Centre and co-author of the report, said: “We have reached a tipping point in agricultural production and it is evident that we need urgent change to protect our environment as well as providing healthy, nutritious food but Government needs to give farmers the right tools to implement change.
“If we are to remain competitive with the rest of the world, we need urgent action from Government to give farmers the courage to innovate and feel confident that policies are in place to train, support and fund the redesign of agricultural systems.”
Prof Lampkin said the big question was on scale and ‘whether agriculture can still provide nutritious food whilst improving natural capital without compromising other aspects of well-being’.
He added the move would have to occur on a scale to ‘benefit millions’, reverse biodiversity loss and environmental contamination, and limit greenhouse gas emissions.
“Key challenges include investing to integrate more agroecological and redesign forms of sustainable intensification in farming systems, creating agricultural knowledge economies, and establishing policy measures to scale sustainable intensification further,” Prof Lampkin said.
“The conclusion of our study is that sustainable intensification may be approaching a tipping point where it could be transformative.
“From this study our major hope is that system redesign can begin, although we recognise that this will need supportive national and international policies to succeed.”
To read the Global Assessment of Agricultural System Redesign for Sustainable Intensification report, click here.