Pesticides study demonstrates importance of organic, campaigners say

New research confirming higher antioxidant levels in organic food shatters the myth that farming methods do not affect quality.

That’s according to Soil Association Chief Executive, Helen Browning, who was responding to publication of a study at Newcastle University and published in the British Journal of Nutrition, which reveals that organic fruit, vegetables and cereals contain significantly higher concentrations of antioxidants and lower levels of pesticides.

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Summit announced by the Vegetarian Society

The spotlight will be turned on the vegetarian sector with the inaugural KIN 2015.

The Vegetarian Society is hosting the event on July 11, when speakers from around the world will gather in Manchester to take part in what is described as a thought-provoking event.  Read More

Fairtrade backs dairy industry over higher milk prices

Fairtrade campaigners have called for better support to dairy farmers over low milk prices.

The concern from the Fairtrade Foundation followed calls from MPs on the Commons Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee for the remit of the groceries watchdog to be extended so that dairy farmers can be protected from sharply falling milk prices.

Barbara Crowther, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the foundation, responded, commenting: “The concern about low prices being paid to dairy farmers in the UK parallels Fairtrade’s concern about low prices being paid to farmers in the developing world who grow the bananas, cocoa, coffee and other commodities we consume on a daily basis. Read More

Demand for organic veg hits all time high

A leading supplier of organic vegetables has revealed sales are at an all time high. The Produce World Group, which ranks as the UK’s largest grower and supplier of fresh organic vegetables, has confirmed that UK consumer demand for organic vegetables during Christmas 2014 was higher than any other year. Read More

UK Farmers encouraged to plant trees and prevent erosion of profits

Farmers are being encouraged to plant trees on their land to prevent one of their most precious assets being washed or blown away.
On average 2.2m tonnes of topsoil are eroded annually in the UK, which costs an estimated £200million a year to the industry as a result of having to repeat practices.
The Woodland Trust and Soil Association highlighted how trees can be a part of the solution to water and wind erosion at this week’s Oxford Farming Conference fringe event. Farmers were informed how long-term soil management plans – that incorporate tree planting – can improve the viability and productivity of their farming systems.
Soil Scientist, Professor Mark Kibblewhite, who spoke at the event, said: “Organic matter in the UK’s soils is declining, while compaction and erosion are widespread. A shelter belt or hedge can improve water infiltration rates of compacted soil by 60 times within three years of being planted. Hedges help to control soil erosion by water and by wind and are important infrastructure for soil management.”
Nuffield Scholar and Director of Abacus Agriculture, Stephen Briggs, discussed how trees have not only lowered erosion on his farm, but also allowed him to produce income-earning crops for longer times throughout the year. He said: “Since integrating apple trees in rows within my arable rotation of wheat, barley, clover and vegetables, my farm has established the largest agroforestry system in the UK. What’s great is only eight per cent of the land area has been used for tree planting – meaning 92% of land is still seeing an economic return from cereal crop production.”
Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of the Woodland Trust, said: “There’s been a growing interest and concern amongst farmers about soil erosion and how this can affect the productivity of their farms. We’re keen to demonstrate how trees can protect this precious resource, whilst at the same time offering a range of other benefits, such as shelter for livestock, pollution abatement and wood fuel.”
Helen Browning, Chief Executive of the Soil Association, said: “2015 is the International year of Soil and this is a great opportunity to focus attention on this vital but neglected issue. Farmers are just beginning to recognise that we will need to change many of our farming practices to help soils thrive, but we will also need to engage the public, partly because it helps people understand the essence of farming, and also so that everyone who has a garden or allotment cares for their soil really well too.
“Soil husbandry is fundamental to addressing many of the challenges facing humanity, including climate change, biodiversity, flooding and water shortage, plant, animal and human health…what could be more important!”

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