Are we moving on from the overly binary organic versus conventional debate?
In his excellent book Growing a Revolution, David R. Montgomery suggests that for far too long we've been arguing over organic versus conventional agriculture. Instead, he says, we really should have been focused on soil health. You see, there are big organic farms that are losing soil hand over fist. And there are conventional farms who are bending over backwards to ensure soil health through cover crops and crop rotations.
Focusing on soil health, Montgomery argues, would allow us to move beyond a 'who's right and who's wrong' frame for the debate, and instead establish a clear goal of healthy, diverse soil—giving farmers the freedom to figure out how to get there.
That's an argument that may have some weight with the corporate sustainability folks over at Wrangler. And that's a good thing. As the world's leading manufacturer of denim, they have a lot of influence in the cotton farming world—and they've just release a report called Seeding Soil's Potential, which summarizes the findings of more than 45 scientific papers and reviews focused on three key practices—no-till farming, crop rotation and cover crops. It's all part of the company's soil health program, which now includes five cotton producers representing farms in Halls, Tennessee; Athens, Alabama; Albany, Georgia; Conway, North Carolina; and Big Spring, Texas.
As the UK looks to establish a national strategy for restoring soil health, NPR reports that there is a growing movement for soil health among a broad swathe of America's farmers, not to mention the agribusinesses that supply them and the manufacturers and retailers who buy from them. It's encouraging to see soil health become a focus for farmers big and small, and it's just as encouraging to see companies throwing their support behind producers who are committing to these practices. Hopefully this means changes will be made in the policy area too.
Wrangler certainly appear to be doing their part to move the conversation forward.