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  • Leftfield Innovation

What next for Arable Farming?

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

This is a question that has been occupying my mind for some years. Arable farming, and the science behind it is my career.

I've watched farmers sweat and toil, trying to generate a living through farming off an often unforgiving land, only to find their market and supply chain even less forgiving. The question that's often asked is, "Why am I even bothering?".

I used to think that I was alone in seeing things differently, seeing an opportunity where others just saw an insurmountable challenge. Then I started hearing a few others talking the same language as me, and gradually this group came together to form Left Field Innovation - a group of innovators from diverse fields (excuse the pun!) who all share a similar vision of creating truly sustainable food production.

Recently I presented the topic of "The Future of Arable Farming" to a group of innovative business people on behalf of the LFI team, and this blog post hopefully captures some of the key elements of this.

For example, did you know that out of 30,000 edible plants only 4 provide 60% of the world's dietary intake?

This of course leads to not only a lack of diversity in our diets, but also commoditisation of markets for these crops, and the wrong crops being grown in the wrong environments.

Of course its not only happening with cropping. In New Zealand, we hear alot about the impact of farming on our environment, particularly as it has intensified in regions and placed pressure on the water resources. Unfortunately the decision to farm in a particular manner is ofdriven by the financial outcomes and often without full knowledge of alternatives, the environmental impacts or the ability to produce, process and market the alternatives in a profitable manner.

crops water dairying farming cropping arable
Crops and Water Use

For example, in the table above, it can be seen that growing Faba beans can generate nearly twice the usable protein per hectare, as other crops and dairying uses 6.5x the amount of water per kg of protein produced .

The issue then is to understand the consumer needs and then develop the growing, production and distribution systems to enable our land to be used more efficiently and effectively. If we do this, our environment is more sustainable, we generate higher returns for all parts of the ecosystem, and we substantially increase the amount of food we grow for our population.

If you want to know more, then please contact us and we will happily discuss how LFI is helping to enable positive change.

Nick Pyke.

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