Regenerative shift could double veg production

UK-wide adoption of regenerative farming practices would produce double the current amount of vegetables and pulses, and result in a 75% decline in pork and chicken production.

That’s according to the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) whose new report, Feeding Britain from the Ground Up, models how a complete switch to sustainable and regenerative farming practices across the UK would impact British diets.

It concluded that vegetable production would double, with a greater diversity of crops being grown much more widely across the nation, often as part of mixed farming systems.

Production of UK-grown pulses would also double due to their importance in sustainable crop rotations and for human and livestock nutrition.

Production of grains, however, would halve due to a reduction in the area of land for cereals and the elimination of synthetic inputs. This in turn would mean a major reduction in the amount fed to livestock which would see chicken and pork production decline by 75% and egg production by around 50%.

The SFT said around the same amount of beef and lamb would be produced due to the importance of grazing livestock in sustainable farming systems, while milk production would fall by about 25% as a consequence of the move to pasture-based systems. The model doesn’t however include climate impacts – a measure which results in a significant reduction in red meat consumption in other modelling exercises.

Under the SFT’s scenario there would be a general shift to mixed farming and more land for trees and nature.

“With the current cost of living crisis and rising worldwide hunger and food shortage, supercharged by the war in Ukraine, we face a choice in how to ensure national food security while also addressing the urgent issues of climate change, nature loss and human health,” said Patrick Holden, CEO of the Sustainable Food Trust. “We can either double down on industrial farming to produce food that is bad for our health, the environment and food security – or we can turn this crisis into an opportunity to accelerate more sustainable food and farming and, ultimately, ensure everyone has access to healthy, sustainable food.”

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