The Sustainability Chronicles (Part 4) - Risk
Risk is a tricky thing. It’s the unknown that makes it scary, it’s the inability to guarantee a result that prevents decisions being made, despite the opportunity to benefit. Risk is an integral part of farming and just quietly, keeps the job interesting.
The trouble is, risk is intimidating and can stop some farmers in their tracks, the potential costs can seem to outweigh the benefits and it all just seems too hard taking a chance.
Sustainability within itself is a risk. While choosing a sustainable option may cost more today, don’t lose hope! It’s up to us to find the best way forward and there will be a big payoff in the long run.
The more we know; the more confident we are with our choices and our decisions will be less risky. We do have to take time to learn and research when it comes to making decisions about our animals and the sustainability of our operations.
In a 2010 Harvard Business Review, D. Lubin and D. Etsy state that most executives know that how they respond to the challenge of sustainability will significantly affect the competitiveness and even the survival of their organizations.
The Animal Centred Approach for example, is a novel process for developing a sustainable operation. Looking at the animal needs first and foremost, before grass and soil requirements is an idea that requires some research and knowledge of the process for it to be effective. In simplistic terms, by meeting animal requirements we take care of animal health and welfare, the plants and soils that feed them, and by extension, the environment they are farmed in. By including animal requirements in the equation, the nutrient cycle is completed, allowing for a systematic and sustainable approach to farming with the animals in the driving seat (E. House, 2019).
Think of a bungee jump, it’s the first step that holds the most risk. It’s a leap into thin air before pure adrenaline kicks in and knocks your socks off. We know it’s a risk, plummeting towards the ground, but we also know that the bungee is strong enough to hold us, the assistants pushing us off the platform are skilled enough and the likelihood of failure is relatively small. With all this knowledge we can feel assured in taking the leap.
It can be pretty daunting, starting out as a farmer but we need to know that it is important to take risks, provided you have done enough learning to be confident in your decisions. Sustainability is vital for the success our farming business. Doing nothing and “staying the same” will not get the results we are after.
Changing our outlooks, habits and even just the day-to-day running of a property all includes some level of risk. To change means that we must accept that we will not know exactly what is going to happen. A classic cliché used by gym trainers could sum this up - “train insane or stay the same”.