DW Documentary (December 10, 2022) – Is sustainable agriculture possible in Europe? From Spain’s “plastic sea” of greenhouses, to farmer suicides in France, the organics boom and high-tech production, it’s clear that Europe’s agricultural sector is in a period of extreme flux. And it needs to change: Agricultural landscapes are shaped by the history of our continent and inextricably bound up with its identity.
But farmers are struggling. They’re under constant pressure to produce more, at lower prices and can no longer hold out against the stiff competition. Most European farms are still family-run businesses, but it’s the large-scale enterprises that benefit from EU subsidies. These companies practice intensive farming, which we now know has a detrimental effect on biodiversity and human health.
This kind of agricultural system is also very bad for soil quality and is now seen as obsolete. With every crisis that occurs, its shortcomings become more evident. The pace of climate change now requires rapid responses to crucial questions: How to sustainably feed more than 500 million Europeans? What steps can be taken to stem the catastrophe resulting from the dramatic rise in meat consumption (up 60 per cent in 60 years) and its associated intensive production of cereal crops?
Solutions are presenting themselves, and many farmers have already seized the initiative. Throughout the European continent, they are the main drivers of a vital 21st century agricultural revolution: a return to traditional farming methods, intelligent or urban agriculture, fewer mass imports, research into in-vitro meat and meat substitutes. These are just some of the approaches being explored by European farmers in a bid to protect biodiversity, the landscape and the health of human beings.
Business Insider – AppHarvest is exploring the future of indoor farming and agriculture technology by using up to 90% less water, human-assisting AI, and the power of the sun for reliable food growth. Alongside local education efforts, AppHarvest’s main focus is to provide US consumers with sustainable, reliable produce so that we can all enjoy a healthier, more vibrant planet in the future.
Even the ancient Greeks, wealthy Romans and Emperor August were big asparagus fans. Presumably, the Romans with their expansionist campaigns were behind its quick spread in Europe, including in Germany.
Today, Germany is one of the leading producers of asparagus in Europe. But why are Germans so crazy about the “white gold”? Our reporter Brant Dennis visits an asparagus farm during harvest, to see what exactly makes this funny-looking vegetable so popular.
Sustained droughts are making farming near impossible in Tanzania. The soil is to dry for planting. The organization Justdiggit wants to alleviate the situation by planting trees in a way that encourages moisture collection. Not only do the trees grow better, the soil is can recover in their shade.
Over one-third of greenhouse-gas emissions come from food production. For a greener future, this urgently needs to change. What’s the future of food in a more sustainable world? Our experts answer your questions.
Video timeline: 00:00 – Food’s environmental impact 00:44 – Why it’s important to make food sustainable 01:34 – Will everyone have to give up meat? 02:13 – Can lab-grown meat be scaled up? 03:32 – Could nutrients and vitamins be added to new foods? 04:52 – Will insects become a new staple food? 05:35 – Why small-scale farming isn’t the main solution 06:51 – Is vertical farming more sustainable? 07:36 – Will consumers accept new foods?
Inside a warehouse in an industrial zone in Copenhagen vast stacks of plants soar almost to the ceiling. In time, this newly opened vertical farm will be one of the largest in Europe, while power from Denmark’s windfarms will ensure it is carbon-neutral, according to the company behind it.
With a lack of restrictions on water use, owners of some large-scale farms in the United States are drying up underground water tables. All they have to do is buy the land to have access to as much free water as they want. In Arizona, farm owners and ranchers are digging ever deeper to irrigate their land, leaving other residents with low water reserves. Meanwhile, parts of the land have caved in, collapsing as the water is pumped up from beneath. Our France 2 colleagues report, with FRANCE 24’s James Vasina.