When I was studying agriculture I remember being impressed by the level of order and balance in the natural world. I was fascinated by the way each living thing is made up of multiple parts and millions of cells, all working together to sustain life.
However, plants and animals are also heavily dependent on the environment around them for survival. For example, a maize plant needs air, water, nutrients and sunlight. If it does not have these in the right balance – or if something eats it – it will not grow.
Because all of creation is connected, if one part is harmed – for example, through deforestation – it can cause problems both locally and globally. Our use of the natural world must promote, not compromise, its ability to provide for all living creatures, now and in the future.
In this edition of Footsteps we consider what this means for farming, especially in the context of climate change and environmental degradation (page 3). We discuss the importance of farming with nature, rather than against it (pages 12 and 20), and learn how farmers in Asia are making the most of their limited water resources (page 6). Other important strategies include tree regeneration (page 8), sustainable mechanisation (page 16) and on-farm trials (page 14).
The natural world is extraordinary, diverse and beautiful. Through it, God provides for our needs and the needs of every other living creature (page 5). As we gain a greater understanding of how everything fits together, we can adopt new, sustainable strategies alongside tried-and-tested techniques. This will allow us to improve agricultural productivity while at the same time protecting the environment on which we all depend.