Farming for the Future

By Anika Molesworth

When I go for a morning walk on my family’s farm, I feel like I come under a spell from its magic. Corellas sit among the branches of the River Red Gums, as though the trees have been sprinkled with white confetti. My dog stalks rustling sounds coming from bushes, never able to spot the bronze-bodied skinks that slip between the leaves. The air is crisp and clean, and I draw it deeply into my lungs. Living and working on a farm feels like a true privilege.

Unfortunately, there are also lots of indicators that things aren’t going well. Changing climatic conditions are disrupting species prevalence and abundance. Extreme weather events, like droughts, floods and bushfires are being more frequent and intense. Farmers are feeling financial strain from lower harvests and increased costs, and this is leading to mental stress and anxiety about what the future will hold. These challenging times are even more pronounced in developing regions of the world.

The science is very clear, that we are now crossing planetary boundaries which define the ‘safe operating space for humanity’. These global regulators include climate change, freshwater consumption, nutrient flow and species abundance and diversity. Crossing these boundaries increases the risk of generating large-scale abrupt and irreversible environmental damage. Staying within the boundaries is essential for humanity to continue to develop and thrive for generations to come.

So how do we achieve better environmental and planetary health? Well, one answer may lie in agroecological thinking and organic agricultural practices.

Although there is no one universal definition of organic agriculture, Lampkin (1994) provides a useful characterisation, with the aim of this practice being ‘to create integrated, humane, environmentally and economically sustainable production systems, which maximise reliance on farm-derived renewable resources and the management of ecological and biological processes and interactions, so as to provide acceptable levels of crop, livestock and human nutrition, protection from pests and disease, and an appropriate return to the human and other resources.’

The identification of renewable resources is important, which contends with some modern practices of using non-renewable resources such as synthetic chemicals and fossil fuels, based linear farm thinking (inputs are pumped into a system from external sources, and outputs and waste result). The excessive use of non-renewable, finite resources is a major crux of the problem, and by design, is not a sustainable production system.

As global agroecological systems are wonderfully complex and diverse, there is no one solution to solve the world’s many sustainability problems. Every region and every farmer will have different capacity and different challenges to overcome. Organic agricultural practices won’t be the answer everywhere, but these principles can make a positive difference where they are suitably engaged. Published research and anecdotal reports alike recount benefits to plant and animal diversity and abundance, soil and water quality, and overall ecosystem health. When organic practices are coupled with ‘socially just’ and ‘ecologically responsible’ mindframes and farming methods, that’s when we are well are truly on the path to agroecological sustainability.

The multifaceted nature of agricultural production and natural environment management means nuanced methods and practices will be required in different locations to help create healthy and well-functioning systems. There is a need for holistic, agroecosystem thinking, as well as locally-focused, targeted responses. We need to look at the big-picture to understand the interrelations of these complex environments. We also need practical, regionally-tailored resources and activities to help farmers at paddock level. We need to be adaptive, welcoming of new ideas, and science-based. In essence, we must work at big and small scale, learn and implement strategies together, and work with nature, not against it.

We live in a critical time, where we are choosing the fate of all future life. By understanding the importance of staying within planetary boundaries and employing the thinking and practices that achieve this, we can help create a better farming future. We must now strive to restore biodiversity in all its glory, increase forest and vegetation cover, improve soil fertility and water quality, and feed and clothe people from the best possible farming systems we can design.

The sun is rising over my family’s farm as I walk across the land contemplating how we can all work more collaboratively and effectively together. The beauty and wonder of the natural environment wills me to imagine greater and work towards creating the vision in my mind. It is a vision of healthy landscapes, vibrant biodiversity, a well functioning environment, and people closely attuned to the natural world. Agroecological thinking and organic principles hold tremendous opportunity to redesign farming systems for the better. And that’s an exciting prospect!


Lampkin, N. (1994). Organic farming: sustainable agriculture in practice. N. Lamkin, S. Padel (Eds.), in The Economics of Organic Farming. An International Perspective. CABI, Oxford.

Image Credit: Christopher Morris / Anika Molesworth

Anika Molesworth is a scientist, farmer and passionate rural community and climate change advocate. She is a Founding Director or Farmers for Climate Action, Climate Wise Agriculture and author of Our Sunburnt Country. Anika’s love for her fragile land and those that depend on it has developed her core values of respect, compassion and responsibility.

Other posts you may like...

Using Macro Organic rolled oats and peanut butter, this quick and easy Organic Oat Slice is perfect for morning or afternoon tea!
Using bean ground & drunk certified organic coffee, this Spiced Vanilla & Cinnamon Coffee recipe puts a warming twist to your regular morning coffee.
View the interactive Taste of Your Region map for the Goulburn Valley in Victoria and find out where you can taste the best local organic produce.
Using new Inglewood Organic Chicken Strips, this Honey Chicken & Asian Greens recipe by Elise Blight is a healthy addition to this week's dinner menu!
This Australian Organic Awareness Month, we're encouraging Aussie shoppers to 'swap' in an organic product in their weekly shop. We've put together 6 of the easiest items to swap in to support organic farmers and make healthier choices for you and your family.
View the interactive Taste of Your Region map for the Goulburn Valley in Victoria and find out where you can taste the best local organic produce.
This healthy and easy Lemon & Herb Chicken With Piri Piri Coleslaw & Sweet Potato Chips recipe by Live Love Nourish uses NEW Cleaver’s Organic Chicken Lemon & Herbs.
Bean Alliance produce award winning organic and fair trade coffees in their bean ground and drunk and Fair Coffee ranges.
Founder of Clémence Organics, Naturopath Bridget Carmady, let's us know why she doesn't believe in skin types, and how she manages her own skin through the changing of seasons.
Australia’s number 1 Certified Organic wine brand, Angove Organic, has continued to grow throughout 2021 as consumers switch to healthier wine, more care for the environment and a strong trust in the brand.
Kialla Pure Organics produce high-quality flours and wholefoods using the best grains from organic farmers. Their new range of innovative products can help you bake up organic treats in no time at all!
Inglewood Organic is Australia's leading producer of Organic Free-Range chicken and are dedicated to rearing premium quality chicken using strict Certified Organic farming methods.
View the interactive Taste of Your Region map for the Goulburn Valley in Victoria and find out where you can taste the best local organic produce.
Celebrate Australian Organic Awareness Month with this moist Organic Greek Yoghurt Loaf recipe by Ayla Renham, made with Jalna Organic Farm to Pot yoghurt.
Chef and MasterChef judge Andy Allen is this year's Australian Organic Awareness Month Ambassador and has cooked up this special recipe, championing certified organic ingredients.
Murray River Organic's new toasted muesli flavours are proudly made with Australian oats and boast an exciting range of Certified Organic ingredients!
View the interactive Taste of Your Region map for the Darling Downs, Qld, and see which organic producers are in your back yard.
Enviroganic Farm is Australia’s leading Organic chicken and turkey producer. Being the longest established producers in the industry, they have a commitment to providing the highest possible quality and sustainability through their certified produce.
Treat yourself during Australian Organic Awareness Month with delicious Jalna organic yoghurt. Made with whole milk from Certified Organic Australian dairy farms that employ ethical and sustainable farming practices, they’re good for the environment and great on practically any dish you can think of.
To celebrate Australian Organic Awareness Month, we’re encouraging shoppers to swap out one product for a certified organic alternative to go into the draw to win some fantastic prizes, including a major prize pack worth over $250!*
From farm to plate, join in the celebrations this September and learn why organic is the best choice for you and your family.
We are excited to announce our 2021 Awareness Month ambassadors, Andy Allen, Anika Molesworth and Mike Bennie who will help to promote organics this September.
Organic food is better for your health, animal welfare and for the environment. Dr Sarah Lantz provides us with some tips to get more bang for your buck when buying organically.
Whether you’re already a devoted organic shopper, curious about organics or completely new to the concept, there are so many ways you can get involved and show your support to organic producers this September.
Are you a certified organic producer, or looking to become one? We’ve put together a few simple ways you can get involved this September.
Whether you’re a certified organic retailer or simply sell certified organic products in your store, there are so many ways you can get involved this September.
We are excited to announce chef, MasterChef winner and co-host, and co-founder of the Three Blue Ducks, Andy Allen, as our 2021 Awareness Month ambassador.
Bridget Carmady, founder of Clémence Organics, talks us through some of the reasons why you should consider choosing certified organic skincare.
Megan Woodward explores the principles of organic farming, speaking to two leaders in the organic sector, Monika Fiebig and Melinee Leather. about their joint passion for organic farming.
Dairy farmers the Schulz family let us know why certified organic farming is better for the planet, better for the animals and ultimately better for you.
With gardeners new and old wanting to grow their own food, Helen McKerral goes through the basics of setting up a vegie garden, including easy crops to start with. Article from ABC Organic Gardener.
Australian Organic CEO Niki Ford let's us in on her tips and tricks to make organic living affordable on a budget.
Want to make sure you're choosing the best chicken or turkey for your family? Learn why you should consider certified organic next time you shop.
With so many options and labels out there, learn how you can make the best choice and tell the difference when it comes to eggs.
How often have you thought about the quality of the dairy you consume? Learn why you should consider certified organic dairy next time you shop.
You might have considered trying a low-carb beer, but did you know that certified organic beer is also an option? Learn more about why you should consider sipping organic beer.
A recent study published in scientific journal Frontiers in Microbiology shows that organic apples are far more beneficial for your health than conventional ones.