We’re in the middle of the most expensive and intensively controlled agricultural experiment in human history.
But despite the unprecedented focus on demarest farming, the continent’s most valuable crop remains relatively unscathed by the global warming that has caused the continent to thaw.
“Deregulation has created a lot of pressure on farming and farming is being driven towards high-input, low-output, mechanised systems,” says Tim Boonstra, chief economist at the National Farmers Union.
Farmers in the Netherlands, where demarest is grown, have been forced to move away from large, sprawling farms and into small-scale plots, where there is a greater degree of market competition.
A new report, Demarest in 2050, published by the University of Melbourne and the Demarest Agricultural Institute, argues that the biggest challenge for the continent is how to manage its future.
The study predicts that farmers in the Demas will lose an estimated 70 per cent of their land holdings in the next 25 years and a quarter of the agricultural land in Europe by 2070.
“The most important question is whether agriculture will become more agroecological, more bioregional, more agricultural, or just agroindustrial,” says Prof Tim Bonsor, who co-authored the report.
In a study published last year, Demas researchers showed that, by 2050, agriculture will lose 20 per cent more land than it already does and that the loss of the demarest crop will affect Europe’s agricultural output by about 6.7 per cent.
That’s equivalent to losing 1.5 million hectares of agricultural land, or more than 10 per cent, by the end of the century.
“It’s a big problem for us because we need to manage land efficiently to be sustainable,” says Dr Daniel McGlone, co-author of the new Demarest report and a demarest specialist at the University in Hobart.
“We have to make the best use of the land.
It’s a very difficult balance, but I think that’s where we need more demarest.”