Safe and profitable

 
Published: Sunday 15 November 1998

Environmentally-sound farming techniques can be up to 40 per cent more profitable than currently popular methods. Integrated farm management (IFM), a new system, allows insecticides to be sprayed only if pests reach a threshold level. Crops are rotated to suppress weeds and maintain fertility. Those opposed to intensive farming argue that a combination of modem and traditional techniques reduce the impact on wildlife without adversely affecting production. There is no doubt that IFM benefits the environment, but some farmers question its economic viability. To remove the doubts, tests were conducted in an arable farm in western England. The researchers left grass strips around fields for insects and birds. To improve soil structure and fertility, straw was ploughed back into the soil instead of being sold.

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