Sustainable agriculture is a reliable way to produce large quantities of food at a low cost. The Day of Sustainable Gastronomy is celebrated on June 18 and presents the local cuisine prepared using environmentally friendly and waste-free methods.
To commemorate this important milestone, we are looking at how agriculture can make it more sustainable, as well as its impact on the economy, the environment, and human health.
What is Sustainable Farming?
Sustainable agriculture is not a new concept. Advocates have been fighting for the implementation of sustainable agriculture practices since the 1960s. Farmers were capable enough to prioritize efficiency post World War II thanks to the new technologies.
With a booming population, it was more integral than ever to maximize productivity. Unfortunately, some of these traditional techniques have unintentionally released huge volumes of greenhouse gasses, causing long-term climate damage.
Soil health is the prime goal of sustainable agriculture. Soil erosion due to bad weather and pollution of water is a major problem in the United States. According to the studies, yields can be reduced by 30-65 % if the topsoil is heavily degraded.
There are three ways to look into sustainable agriculture:
- Economically viable: Farming practices must be profitable.
- Social support: Farming communities should have a healthy standard of living.
- Ecologically healthy: Ecosystems must conserve their biodiversity and vitality.
Planting cover crops, crop rotation, and managing fertilizer inputs are all examples of common sustainable practices.
What Are The Differences Between Conventional And Sustainable Farming?
It is important to understand how sustainable farming practices differ from conventional farming approaches as they are discussed. And organic farming is not the same as sustainable farming. Traditional agriculture encompasses a wide range of approaches, but its basis is that conventional farmers increase their productivity.
Chemical fertilizers and genetically modified plants are often used in this way. Soil health, and the health of the farming community are important aspects of sustainable agriculture.
Sustainable farming practices aim to keep agriculture alive in the long term by enforcing rules that promote the viability of farmers and the environment.
We will examine these topics in more detail later in this article. Traditional farming is efficient farming which means getting the most out of each seed for as little money as possible. Soil quality is often damaged by current agricultural operations due to the huge quantities of pesticides and artificial substances required.
Conventional agriculture is far from simple- planting and harvesting crops properly to feed a hungry population takes a lot of time and effort. However, traditional agriculture aims to maximize productivity while reducing costs for producers.
Best Practices for Sustainable Agriculture
Cover crops, crop rotation, reduction or no-tillage, and limited use of chemical fertilizers are examples of sustainable farming or regenerative agricultural practices. We will take a closer look at each of these activities in the following sections to learn more about their long-term effects on soil.
1. Cover Crops
Cover crops shall be grown in areas where the average harvest time is less than twelve months. Crops in rows of corn, for example, are often planted in the spring and harvested in the Midwest in the fall. The soil would be bare for the rest of the year, so it would be susceptible to erosion due to heavy rain and snow.
Reduce farming or no-till farming methods mean that the soil disturbs as little as possible. Before planting, the top layer of soil is returned to traditional plowing procedures. This disturbs the soil and exposes it to increased weather erosion. Seeds are sown directly in the ground as part of no-till or agriculture, which requires the use of specialized tillage equipment.
3. Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is the deliberate planting of a variety of crops in a specific order. For example, if corn is sown during one season on one field, soybeans will sow the next season. Each year, as different crops die in the soil, composting them will help maintain or improve soil health. The length of the roots can also help strengthen the topsoil.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Does sustainable agriculture make a difference to the environment?
The answer is yes. It consumes up to 56% less energy per unit of plant produced, emits 65% fewer greenhouse gasses per hectare, and supports higher biodiversity than traditional agriculture.
Q2. Is sustainable agriculture possible in developing countries?
Yes. Since sustainably farmed produce requires more labor than conventionally produced food, it has the potential to create 30% more jobs. It can also create more money for the farmers as it can order better prices.
Q3. Why does sustainably produced food seem more expensive?
It can be more expensive as it requires more work. It is often approved in such a way that it must process and transport separately from conventional meals. Marketing and distribution costs for relatively small quantities of products are often disproportionately high. In addition, the supply of sustainable farmer’s produced foods can sometimes be limited.
Q4. Is It Possible To Sustainably Produce Affordable food?
Yes. As demand for specific foods increases, manufacturing, processing, distribution, and marketing costs will decrease, making them more affordable for consumers. Policymakers can help by enabling access to markets and ensuring a level playing field.
Q5. Why Is Sustainable Farming Not Adopted As A Global Standard?
Agriculture, the environment, and human health are closely linked in ways that are not easily understandable. Since policymakers rarely view nature as a kind of capital, there is a lack of laws to prevent pollution and other forms of environmental degradation. In addition, customers may not be aware of the impact of their food choices on the environment or even on their health. Producers have no incentive to change their methods if there are no legal obligations or market demand.
Agriculture that meets the needs of present and future generations while ensuring profitability, environmental health, and social and economic equality is what we call sustainable agriculture.
It focuses on natural strategies to maintain soil fertility, prevent water pollution, and protect agricultural land. It is also a way to achieve global goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals and achieving zero hunger.
Sustainable agriculture is one of the best types of farming you should try for growth and better income.