Carrying capacity of traditional farming in South East England: A case study

Paul Lovatt Smith, Gavin Nobes

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Abstract

Traditional farming in South East (SE) England is presented as a highly-evolved form of sustainable farming. The carrying capacity of traditional farming on a 2.75 ha family smallholding in SE England is assessed from production data recorded over a period of 8 years. The key elements of the farming system were mixed farming (livestock, dairy, arable and horticultural), self-sufficiency in terms of inputs and organic principles. Ten types of food were produced with the aim to comprise all the elements of a balanced diet. The holding and farming system are described and an analysis of the food produced is presented, in terms of weight and energy content, for the years 2010 to 2017. An average carrying capacity of 0.64 people ha-1 was demonstrated on the basis of food energy content alone. Carrying capacity increased to 1.09 people ha-1 when production was re-proportioned to align with the UK Government’s currently recommended balanced diet. The latter figure is similar to carrying capacity estimates, derived from national statistics, for the UK’s total farmland in the middle part of the 20th Century but significantly lower than theoretical predictions of national carrying capacity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-22
Number of pages9
JournalOrganic Farming
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • balanced diet
  • carrying capacity
  • organic
  • sustainable farming
  • traditional farming

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