The question of whether organic or conventional farming is the best solution for a sustainable food production has been raised many times. Lantmännen believes that both conventional and organic cultivation methods need to be further developed.
Demand for sustainably produced food
Earth's inhabitants are ever-increasing. At the same time we need to eat and be healthy within the limits of what our one planet can produce. To supply the entire population of the world requires a change in the way we produce and consume food. The greatest impact and potential lies in the cultivation stage.
Lantmännen’s knowledge and operations in every stage represent an opportunity to drive and contribute to development in the grain value chain. We focus on research that can develop and move the entire grain sector forward.
Lantmännen’s approach to sustainable cultivation
The way to sustainable cultivation is to manage and balance several different challenges. Sustainable cultivation is not about choosing between organic and conventional, but exploiting the best from different production methods and aids. Together, with even better knowledge and more advanced technology, we can make farming more sustainable and resource efficient together. It is also very much about taking into account local cultivation conditions and challenges as well as finding local solutions.
Traditional farming is simplified into two main streams or production methods: conventional using fertilizers and chemical pesticides and organic without use of fertilizers or chemical pesticides. The question of whether organic or conventional farming is the best solution to a sustainable food production has been raised many times. Lantmännen believes that both conventional and organic cultivation methods need to be further improved. The differences within each system are at least as great as the differences between them. Both systems have pushed agriculture forward and contributed to solutions benefiting both streams, and in both systems challenges still remain, some of which both systems have in common.
We believe that both conventional and organic cultivation need to be further developed in order to produce enough food for a growing world population. Lantmännen's work for sustainable food therefore contains a commitment to both methods – not just one or the other.
Conventional - Climate & Nature
To tackle agricultural challenges of today and tomorrow, Lantmännen has developmed a cultivation concept for grain with up to 20 percent lower climate impact, reduced environmental impact and that contributes to biodiversity. The cultivation concept Climate & Nature was launched in 2015 and is now used in cultivation by contracted farmers. The method can make a big difference since it decreases the environmental impact of products from conventional farming, which is about 90 percent of the Swedish market.
Organic farming shows a way towards thriving food production without the use of unnatural chemical crop protection. The organic farming demands more varied cultivation, which also contributes to biodiversity. Lantmännen stands behind a major part of the ecological grain on the Swedish market. The organic farming is therefore of big importance for Lantmännen's work towards a sustainable production of food from field to fork.
Learn more about organic production below and about sustainable cultivation and its challenges here.
Organic agricultural production stands out compared to conventional food production in three significant ways:
- Crop protection, i.e. how to handle pests and weeds. Unnatural chemical crop protection is not permitted in organic production.
- Plant nutrients and fertilizers. Commercial/mineral fertilizers are not permitted in organic production. Instead manure, nitrogen-fixing leguminous plants etc. are used.
- Livestock keeping: in organic livestock keeping, demands are made on the animals upbringing and their ability to be able to live as normal lives as possible, meaning demands regarding time outdoors, feed and medication. A starting point is also for the plant and livestock keeping to be in balance, where feed is produced on the own farm and manure is used in the fields. Organic production can be certified according to EU rules and according to KRAV in Sweden, after independent control.
Contribution to sustainable cultivation
Lantmännen works together with other players to drive the development of cultivation in a sustainable direction. We do this by offering advisory services to farmers and developing technology and methods. We conduct plant breeding with a focus on sustainable cultivation and we are at the forefront of non-chemical seed treatment. Working with farmers and customers, we can also develop new grain concepts with differentiated quality and improved environmental properties. Climate performance and traceability are examples of parameters that make the difference between one grain and another.
Conventional farming at the forefront
On the conventional side, large investments are made in cultivating grains according to the cultivation concept “Climate and Nature” with up to 20 % lower impact on the climate than the average wheat production. The cultivation concept includes, among other things, requirements of using fertilizers with a lower climate impact and using N-sensors when spreading fertilizers in order to increase the precision of the amount of nitrogen applied. Eco-driving is another requirement. To increase biodiversity unsown patches, lark squares, are left for skylarks to land on and find food.
With Climate & Nature Lantmännen show the opportunities of offering a more sustainable choice also within the conventional product segment. It paves the way for broadening the sustainability efforts within the food industry that complement the organic niche and that are absolutely necessary in order to achieve a sustainable development.
Important actor within organic production
Lantmännen is a large and important actor within organic food production – not the least by providing the market with organic farm inputs such as seeds, fertilizers etc. Organically certified farm inputs are absolutely necessary for the organic production of feed and food to grow and further develop.
In terms of sales, Lantmännen is today the second largest member company within KRAV.
Lantmännen is also making investments to expand our own range of organic food products.
Organic feed sales keept increasing. The conventional production is also increasing, so the organic proportion remains at the previous year’s level, approximately 9,5 percent of the volume.