The Circular Farm.
The project aims to demonstrate to farmers and land managers how the principles of the Circular Economy can be adapted to create the Circular Farm. The business and environmental benefits of this approach can help reduce input costs, provide a plentiful supply of energy, improve the soil producing healthy nutritious food whilst protecting and enhancing biodiversity.
The foundation of the Circular Economy is the belief that there is no such thing as waste – this is represented by the Three ‘R’s’ of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This concept could become a vital part of modern food production helping to transform our systems of farming and food production to eliminate waste, better circulate resources and regenerate the natural world.
Fundamentally the soil is the centre of this transition to circular farming. A functioning and well managed soil allow efficient production of healthier, nutrient-dense food. Focus on the building of humus brings with it the retention of water, increased nutrient holding capacity, whilst sequestering carbon. Humus building dovetails into the use of bulky organic residual products forming further closed loops systems from bio-solids to vermicompost.
Examples of innovative agricultural, biological, and engineering projects in Canada, the USA, Ireland, and Holland are described in detail demonstrating methods of circular farming and the systems supporting circular food production with the objective of inspiring the wider acquisition of knowledge in this area and adoption of these and similar technologies and techniques on UK farms and elsewhere.
The project encourages farmers to adopt a designed systems approach. This involves thinking circular, rather than linear, to embrace complexity and diversity, as well as being alert to opportunities, to collaborate with fellow farmers and build relationships with business involved in food and energy production. Knowledge exchange is an important part of building success for these multifaceted interconnected systems.
The project also calls on policy makers to emulate the Dutch policy of adopting a zero-waste strategy in conjunction with climate change adaption and mitigation. One way of achieving this is to support the farming community in a holistic way to adopt Circular Farming through financial support and the removal of barriers to innovative solutions. The strategy must be aligned with producing safe, healthy nutritious food to feed an increasing global population and not by regulating activities to reduce production quantities.
Finally, the report makes the connection between the development of circular farming systems and profitable, strong and sustainable business with low risk, diverse income streams
NFU Mutual Charitable Trust
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