What is sustainable agriculture?

The aim of sustainable agriculture is to satisfy society’s meals and fabric wishes in the present without compromising the potential of destiny generations to meet their own wishes. Practitioners of sustainable agriculture are searching for to integrate 3 main goals into their work: a healthful surroundings, economic profitability, and social and monetary fairness. all of us worried in the food machine—growers, food processors, vendors, shops, customers, and waste managers—can play a function in making sure a sustainable agricultural machine.

there are many practices generally used by human beings working in sustainable agriculture and sustainable meals structures. Growers might also use methods to sell soil health, reduce water use, and decrease pollutants ranges on the farm. clients and retailers concerned with sustainability can look for “values-based” foods which might be grown using methods promoting farmworker health, which might be environmentally friendly, or that strengthen the nearby financial system. And researchers in sustainable agriculture often pass disciplinary lines with their paintings: combining biology, economics, engineering, chemistry, network development, and many others. however, sustainable agriculture is greater than a collection of practices. it’s also technique of negotiation: a push and pull among the once in a while competing interests of an character farmer or of humans in a network as they work to remedy complex troubles about how we grow our meals and fiber.

The relaxation of this web page delves similarly into the philosophy and practices underpinning sustainable agriculture. Or go to the links to the right to go to sensible pages for training sustainable agriculture.

Background

Since World War II the number of U.S. farms has declined and the average farm size has increased. Data from USDA Census of Agriculture.
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Agriculture has changed dramatically, especially since the end of World War II. Food and fiber productivity soared due to new technologies, mechanization, increased chemical use, specialization and government policies that favored maximizing production. These changes allowed fewer farmers with reduced labor demands to produce the majority of the food and fiber in the U.S.

Although these changes have had many positive effects and reduced many risks in farming, there have also been significant costs. Prominent among these are topsoil depletion, groundwater contamination, the decline of family farms, continued neglect of the living and working conditions for farm laborers, increasing costs of production, and the disintegration of economic and social conditions in rural communities.

Potential Costs of Modern Agricultural Techniques

Topsoil
Depletion

Groundwater
Contamination

Degradation of
Rural Communities

Lowered Conditions
For Farmworkers 

Increased Production
Costs

A growing movement has emerged during the past two decades to question the role of the agricultural establishment in promoting practices that contribute to these social problems. Today this movement for sustainable agriculture is garnering increasing support and acceptance within mainstream agriculture. Not only does sustainable agriculture address many environmental and social concerns, but it offers innovative and economically viable opportunities for growers, laborers, consumers, policymakers and many others in the entire food system.

What is Sustainable Agriculture?

Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals — environmental health, economicprofitability, and social and economic equity.

A variety of philosophies, policies and practices have contributed to these goals. People in many different capacities, from farmers to consumers, have shared this vision and contributed to it.

Despite the diversity of people and perspectives, the following themes commonly weave through definitions of sustainable agriculture.

A systems perspective is essential to understanding sustainability.
The system is envisioned in its broadest sense, from the individual farm, to the local ecosystem, andto communities affected by this farming system both locally and globally. An emphasis on the system allows a larger and more thorough view of the consequences of farming practices on both human communities and the environment. A systems approach gives us the tools to explore the interconnections between farming and other aspects of our environment.

Making the transition to sustainable agriculture is a process. A systems approach also implies interdisciplinary efforts in research and education.
This requires not only the input of researchers from various disciplines, but also farmers, farmworkers, consumers, policymakers and others.

For farmers, the transition to sustainable agriculture normally requires a series of small, realistic steps. Family economics and personal goals influence how fast or how far participants can go in the transition. It is important to realize that each small decision can make a difference and contribute to advancing the entire system further on the “sustainable agriculture continuum.” The key to moving forward is the will to take the next step.
Finally, it is important to point out that reaching toward the goal of sustainable agriculture is the responsibility of all participants in the system, including farmers, laborers, policymakers, researchers, retailers, and consumers. Each group has its own part to play, its own unique contribution to make to strengthen the sustainable agriculture community.

 

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