What Does Sustainable Agriculture Mean
Sustainable agriculture is farming that focuses on the production of food and textile materials necessary to meet society’s present needs while having minimal effect on the environment. Its main goal is to reach a perfect balance between food production and the preservation of the ecological system.
Sustainable agriculture also aims to ensure the maintenance of the economic stability of farms. It significantly contributes to the improvement of agricultural techniques and farmers’ quality of life.
Characteristics of sustainable agriculture
According to the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, there are 10 basic characteristics of this approach. Due to them, humanity has a chance to start producing enough food for present and future generations without causing environmental degradation:
1. Use of improved crops and livestock breeds to ensure genetic diversity and better adaptation to changing environmental conditions.
2. Renunciation of the unnecessary use of harmful chemicals and technologies that affect the environment and human health.
3. Efficient use of available resources.
4. Promotion of diversified farming systems and functional biodiversity.
5. Global exchange of farming innovations and technologies to overcome the most important issues.
6. Reduction of the ecological footprint, minimization of greenhouse gas emissions, and water pollution.
7. Promotion of the practices that ensure clean water availability, conservation of biodiversity, carbon sequestration, etc.
8. Improvement of adaptive capacity by strengthening the ability to respond to the farming industry and environmental changes.
9. Maintenance of agroecosystem diversity.
10. Conservation of agricultural heritage systems.
Why Is Sustainable Agriculture Important
Due to modern environmental issues, the importance of sustainable agriculture is undeniable. Unlike industrial farming, it focuses on soil nourishment, which leads to significant improvement of environmental conditions. Sustainable agriculture promotes the use of natural fertilizers. Due to it, the soils are free from dangerous toxins, which harm plants, animals, and people living nearby.
Plus, green agriculture uses several techniques to conserve water. The most popular of them are mulching and drip irrigation. It also encourages the planting of perennial crops, which have deep roots and don’t need a lot of water.
Green agriculture promotes the diversity of plants in the farming systems. This sustainable growing practice ensures that the crops will be able to withstand droughts, diseases, and pests. Besides, it unites plant and animal production, improving the environment for both wildlife and people.
Finally, sustainable agriculture supports local communities. It focuses on domestic food production. Thus, farmers get the possibility to reinvest their money within the local communities. Such an approach significantly improves the living standards as well as creates new rural jobs.
Benefits of Sustainable Agriculture
Have you ever wondered: “What are the benefits of sustainable farming?” Although there are several problems, the advantages mentioned below certainly outweigh the drawbacks:
- Improvement of air quality. Sustainable agriculture aims to get rid of such harmful activities as the use of nitrogen fertilizers and agricultural burning. Consider that the mentioned practices significantly contribute to air pollution and climate change.
- Zero world hunger. This is one of the main advantages of sustainable agriculture. Currently, the U.N. plans to end world hunger by the end of this decade. The organization wants to reach this goal by combining the best sustainable farming practices with global coordination to reach more efficient food distribution.
- New technologies. Green agriculture constantly focuses on the development of new techniques and tools, which will help reduce the negative impact on the environment. Some of the most efficient innovations include crop rotation, cover crop technique, and zero-tillage practice.
Best Sustainable Agricultural Practices
The years of research have significantly contributed to the development of sustainable farming. Right now, you can get acquainted with the examples of the most efficient practices used to overcome sustainable agriculture issues:
- Planting cover crops. Farmers plant crops such as buckwheat and cowpeas during the off-season time. These plants improve soil health by replenishing it with nutrients and preventing erosion.
- Integrated pest management. Sustainable agriculture uses a variety of methods, including mechanical and biological ones, to keep the pest population under control. It reduces the use of chemical pesticides, which affect the environment.
- Integration of crops and livestock. Smart integration of crop and animal production has already proved its efficiency. It recovers the costs necessary to cover crop management. Also, this approach reduces the risk of raising a single product.
Green farming is a sure way to reach agricultural sustainability and deal with such serious problems as world hunger and climate change. The numerous benefits of sustainable farming prove the importance of this industry for modern humanity, future generations, and our planet.
Kate is an environmental consultant specializing on green technologies and nature preservation techniques. She has more than 3 years of experience and worked with several non-profit organizations to save our nature from disruptive influence of people.