It’s an exciting time in the world of agriculture. Why? Because farmers around the world are learning how to better adapt to a changing climate. Growing conditions are increasingly unpredictable due to changes in weather, temperature, water supply and pollinator habitat. Some farmers are transitioning to a wild farm, or wild agriculture, to create a a mutually beneficial system, both humans and wildlife will prosper.
Wild farming involves returning agricultural land to a more “wild” state. It works in harmony with the native habitat and involves fewer inputs than a typical farm. By this definition, wild farming refers to an agricultural practice that works with nature, restoring woodlands, preserving water and creating pollinator habitats. Keep reading to learn how this process involves working with the ecosystem to create a prosperous and abundant food system.
Wild Farm Characteristics
The term “wild farm” may be new, but the concept is older than agriculture itself. Before the dawn of agriculture, hunter-gatherer societies selected breeds of plants that were the tastiest and most calorie-dense, though they continued to live a nomadic way of life. They hunted certain wildlife for food but worked to preserve the natural ecosystem.
Wild farms today include a variety of alternative farming methods. Sustainable agriculture is the practice of working with the land in a way that benefits both humans and the earth. Practices may include low-till and no-till growing, which means that farmers do not till up bare land every season to plant a new crop. Farming practices such as permaculture and regenerative agriculture both share characteristics of wild farming.
Unfortunately, industrial agriculture today strives to work against nature, constantly looking for new ways to control and manipulate the natural processes. From GMO crops to spraying various pesticides, many farms look to eradicate other forms of life on the field, so only one crop can grow.
While this system may work in the short term to grow more food in a concentrated area, it has a bleak future. Monoculture commodity crops are not feeding the world effectively. If we need a 28% increase in our food supply in the future, as experts implore, we need to find another way.
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How Wildlife Benefits Farmers
One of the main criticisms of the traditional agricultural community in regards to farming with nature is that it cannot be profitable. There might be some truth to that statement. If you are trying to grow thousands of acres of corn, it may decrease your profits in the short term.
However, wild farms look to transform how we grow food at a fundamental level.
Corn is valuable to the global food system because it’s used as food for livestock and an ingredient in processed foods for people. However, no one can eat a stalk of corn right out of the ground. If the world’s infrastructure froze tomorrow, there would be millions of acres of commodity crops and no way for humans to consume it.
That’s where wildlife comes in. We, as humans, are part of a larger ecosystem. The animals, birds and insects play a vital role in crop growth, whether we notice it or not.
Some 35% of the world’s food production relies on pollinators. If the honeybee population were to collapse tomorrow, we would no longer have blueberries, apples, almonds and countless other food products we take for granted.
Transitioning to the Wild Farm
Farming with nature allows farmers to diversify production, creating more stability in their profits and increasing the monetary value of their land. If you grow countless types of edible plants and livestock on one property, you can produce more nutrient-dense food than one acre devoted to soybeans.
A wildlife farm also involves fewer inputs, since you are building up the ecosystem. It is easier to work with the native habitat than against it. Rebuilding an abundant and productive ecosystem helps preserve the value already there, instead of having to add fertilizer to depleted soil year after year.
We, as humans, are looking toward a more sustainable future. Change is happening at a global level. For farmers looking to build a more resilient agricultural business, it’s time to invest in native habitats. By working with wildlife instead of against it, we can make an ally in the natural world.