No such thing as 'natural farming'
There is mounting pressure from consumers and advocacy groups to find more natural approaches to farming. But what is “natural farming”, anyway? There’s no such thing says Alex Smith. He’s the senior food and agriculture analyst at The BreakThrough Institute, a global research center that identifies and promotes technological solutions to environmental and human development challenges.
Smith… “So they look at organic farming and sort of say ' oh, this is as close to natural farming as we can do'. But there's no such thing as natural farming. It's always gonna have an impact on the land. It's always gonna be disruptive. It's always gonna be taking some kind of animal or flora and fauna, and pushing it off to replace it with something that we want to grow. So I think being honest about the impacts of any kind of agricultural production, whether it's like crop landscape, whether it's a pasture landscape, means that we have to sort of embrace the fact that we're gonna have these impacts. So I think that just looking at the base assumptions of the natural farming, organic, dealing with the base issue at that level, I think you just can't be natural farming.”
Instead of trying to make natural farming the goal, Smith says, there are opportunities to embrace research and technology to continue to find ways to produce more with less.