Towards farmer principles of health

10 key statements of farmers to improve health in organic agricultural systems

The Health Networks project
Ekhaga Foundation, Sweden
Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research Germany & Humboldt University Berlin & University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Austria
All rights reserved.
Farmer experience
Key Farming Practices: 
Soil monitoring
Habitat creation

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Resource explained: 

The four principles of organic agriculture, as laid down by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, are not so well known among farmers or scientists, and the understanding and interpretation of these principles can often be vague. One of the aims of the HealthNetworks project, which was conducted from 2015-2016 under the leadership of the Organic Research Centre, was to identify which principles farmers have developed that make them successful in developing healthy farming systems; the personal philosophies and visions of best practice farmers follow to improve the health of soils, plants, animals and humans. This booklet details the results, grouping the principles into ten statements.

Findings & recommendations: 
  • The ten statements described are grouped under the headings of soil health, biodviersity, systems thinking, observation skills, intuition and self observation, overview, long-term thinking and acting, shifting goals, impart health and indicators.
  • On the basis of these ten health statements it is hoped that new and interdisciplinary approaches to health research and knowledge exchange in agriculture will be developed.
  • Find out more about the HealthNetworks project here.
  • On the back of the HealthNetworks project, the Farm System Health in Practice project was formed. Using this booklet as a guide, farmers and researchers involved in this project looked at developing the principles and conceptualising tools for health assessment and measuring best practice outcomes on farms. The intention was to test and validate the set of ‘criteria’ or ‘properties’ of a healthy farming system and help identify future beacon farms in different countries and environments. Find out more about it and access videos and podcasts featuring UK farmers talking about farm system health here.
Summary provided by: 
Janie Caldbeck