Farmlands now makeup more than one-third of the Earth's land surface and are perhaps the most important ecosystem for the human population. As well as providing people with food, fodder, and fibre, many organisms also rely on these environments for habitat, shelter and food. Unfortunately, common agricultural and farming practices are exhausting and depleting the land and contributing to environmental degradation. With increasing pressure on agricultural land due to population growth, land care and land restoration is becoming ever more important.
Agriculture and Farming
Farm and agricultural land now comprises around 28% of Tasmania and contributes significantly to the Tasmanian economy. Farmlands are vital landscapes for people, however, many of the ways in which we use these lands are exhausting their resources. Intensive ploughing and cultivation practices, large monocultures, over-grazing, and the removal of hedges and trees are letting rain and wind erode precious soil. Excessive use of fertilizer is polluting waterways and lowering soil quality. Nitrogen pollution poses an invisible but dangerous threat to peatlands. Pesticides are harming wildlife including insects such as bees that pollinate many crops.
There are a range of farming practices (such as regenerative agriculture!) and ways that we can rehabilitate and restore these damaged environments. This is increasingly important for the longevity of agriculture and farming, the economic contribution of these practices, global food security and protecting these environments and resources for future generations to come.
Restoring Degraded Farmland
There are a number of ways to restore degraded farmlands by incorporating more sustainable agricultural and farming practices. This may include a reduction in tillage and adopting natural fertilizers and pest control. Crop rotation and diversifying crops by including trees and integrating them with livestock can restore biodiversity whilst providing a more nutritious diet for livestock (there are also economic benefits!). Forming alliances between farmers and pastoralists can be mutually beneficial and provide shared resources, with livestock grazing crops after harvest. These practices can revive the land, rebuild carbon stores in the soil as well as microorganisms which contribute to soil health and fertility. This collaboration is also socially beneficial, strengthening relationships and community.
Sustainable Land Management is “the use of land resources, including soils, water, animals and plants, for the production of goods to meet changing human needs, while simultaneously ensuring the long-term productive potential of these resources and the maintenance of their environmental functions”.
More sustainable practices and a stronger focus on regeneration has great environmental, social and economic benefits on both a local and global level.
Restoration in Tasmania
Landcare on Farms in Tasmania - Landcare Tasmania is proud to work alongside farmers who are testing, practicing and developing sustainable farming practices that are good for the land, yield, waterways and wildlife. Here is some great information on regen projects happening in Tasmania, as well as some more helpful resources
Regenerative Agriculture - we interviewed Regenerative Agriculture Network Tasmania (RANT) member Celia Leverton who talks about her passion for regenerative agriculture practices on her farm Whistlers Ridge, in Franklin Tasmania
Scaling Up Ecosystem Restoration - Webinar on the importance of ecosystem restoration
Hand for the Land - Tasmanian based holistic land management and training consultancies