Farming systems employ different techniques to produce food. Historically rotations were driven by the need to incorporate sufficient fertility building phases alternated between exploitative phases. The development of the Haber-Bosch process removed the need for rotations to be limited by biologically fixed nitrogen, although organic farming systems continue this approach. In recent years focus has shifted from a gross output approach where maximum yield or profitability were the principle drivers to more agro-ecological approaches where biodiversity, water quality, gaseous emissions, soil heath, animal welfare, carbon storage and the nutrient density of food are considered to be important.
Reconciling these sometimes conflicting factors with other societal demands such as afforestation for climate change mitigation, rewilding for biodiversity or re-wetting land for flood prevention presents a major challenge to modern farming and land management. This presentation explores these challenges and trade-offs from a practical perspective.