Agriculture often places significant pressure on natural resources and the environment and with these, we must implement a sustainable system that will enable us to practice agriculture in a way that will not be harmful to the environment and with the growing population, food availability would not be a challenge.
Sustainable agriculture is very important as it helps preserve biodiversity in the ecosystem and so everybody needs to know about it. from the grower in the rural environment to the retailer, to the consumer.
What is Sustainable Agriculture?
Sustainable agriculture: is a type of agriculture that focuses on producing long-term crops and livestock while having minimal effects on the environment. This type of agriculture tries to find a good balance between the need for food production and the preservation of the ecological system within the environment. In addition to producing food, there are several overall goals associated with sustainable agriculture, including conserving water, reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and promoting biodiversity in crops grown and the ecosystem. Sustainable agriculture also focuses on maintaining the economic stability of farms and helping farmers improve their techniques and quality of life.
Benefits Of Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainable farms save energy
Sustainable agricultural practices strive to reduce energy use at all levels. Beyond embracing less energy-intensive forms of agricultural production, Sustainable agriculture aims at designing farming systems that work smarter, not harder, and systems that will become more productive and efficient with each passing year.
By reducing energy use and eliminating the need for fossil fuels, the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the agricultural sector could be reduced dramatically.
In contrast, unsustainable agricultural practices are extremely energy-intensive and are heavily reliant upon fossil fuels for both production and transport many thousands of miles from field to plate. The conventional industrial agriculture is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases in the world today.
Sustainable agriculture values diversity
Sustainable agriculture embraces diverse farming systems that incorporate a variety of crops instead of just a few select monoculture crops.
Such diversity leads to greater resiliency in the face of drought, diseases, and pests since a sustainable farm is not as dependent upon a single variety of a crop or just a few primary crops for income.
A diverse sustainable farm also incorporates both plant and animal production together within a cooperative system and is a healthy place for pollinators, people, and wildlife.
Sustainable agriculture provides resilience in a world of climate change
Sustainable farming methods are the cornerstone of low input agriculture. As previously stated, sustainable agriculture conserves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It also conserves water, decreasing vulnerability to drought.
With diverse systems that grow a variety of crops, an emphasis on those plants that naturally require less water, and systems that have healthier plants because of the presence of healthier soils, crops in sustainable systems should have greater resilience than those in conventional systems.
Also, when sustainable agriculture systems incorporate trees and other perennial plants, along with free-range livestock grazing systems, agriculture can become carbon sinks.
Sustainable farming protects and conserves water
Sustainable agriculture systems employ many methods that conserve water, including the use of mulching, drip irrigation, creating swales on contour that help to hold water high on the landscape and recharge underground water resources, planting crops that do not require as much water such as an emphasis on perennial crops with deep roots.
Sustainable agriculture also employs methods that help to protect water bodies from pollution and works to prevent pollution (in these systems, pollution is considered to be “waste” that is leaving the system), such as through the use of filter strips near water bodies and contour farming.
Sustainable agricultural practices
Organic farming: is a method of crop and livestock production that involves much more than choosing not to use chemical pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics, and growth hormones.
Integrated pest management (IPM), also known as integrated pest control (IPC) is a broad-based approach that integrates practices for economic control of pests. IPM aims to suppress pest populations below the economic injury level (EIL). Integrated pest management, which is defined as the selection, integration, and implementation of pest control based on predicted economic, ecological and sociological consequences, makes maximum use of naturally occurring control agents, including weather, disease organisms, predators and parasites.
Integrated Nutrient Management refers to the maintenance of soil fertility and of plant nutrient supply at an optimum level for sustaining the desired productivity through optimization of the benefits from all possible sources of organic, inorganic and biological components in an integrated manner.
Crop rotation: The growth of different kinds of crops on a piece of land in a pre-planned succession is known as crop rotation. In the rotation of crops, leguminous crops like pulses, beans, peas, groundnut, and Bengal gram are sown in-between the seasons of cereal crops like wheat, maize, and pearl millet. The leguminous plants are grown alternately with non-leguminous plants to restore the fertility of the soil. When the cereal crops like rice, wheat, maize are grown in the soil, it uses up a lot of nitrogenous salts from the soil. If another crop of cereal is grown in the same soil, the soil becomes nitrogen deficient. So by rotation, a leguminous crop is grown. These plants can fix atmospheric nitrogen to form nitrogen compounds through the help of certain bacteria present in their root. These nitrogen compounds go into the soil and make it more fertile.
Integrated Crop Management (ICM) is a common-sense approach to farming. It combines the best of traditional methods with appropriate modern technology, balancing the economic production of crops with positive environmental management.
How you can support sustainable agriculture
- Go local!
Choose locally grown and made products. This reduces the energy spent on food transport and supports local economies.
- Eat organically grown products.
Organic production is better for the environment, as it does not pollute water and soil. It is also much healthier for you!
- Start a garden and grow your food
- Support green education and community gardens
- Buy from your local farmer’s markets
- Look for alternative sources for buying meat.
- It is healthier and more environmentally friendly to buy from producers who use free-range, organic strategies
- Look into how your food is grown
Sustainable, local agriculture produces better quality, organic food using processes that are much more environmentally friendly than mass-production agricultural practices. Plus, sustainable agriculture practices are great for local communities. What’s not to love?
What are your thoughts on sustainable agriculture? Let us know in the comment section below.