Sustainable farming can be described as the practice of farming ecologically. Rather than focus on economical viability.
Food is at the base of all life on Earth. Our natural resources are being used at an unsustainable rate. There is no way that the world can continue to consume in this manner. Sustainable farming will play a vital role in the future of our global society. Addressing this problem has to be among our top priorities. Agriculture faces a huge challenge in providing better sustenance for more people.
Changing the Way We Think
This means changing the way we think about sourcing our food. No easy task when you consider the population of the globe is estimated to rise to 9 billion by 2050. Coupled with the fact that there is a dwindling amount of space for farming.
Agriculture already uses almost two thirds of ice-free land. It continues to be a key driver of habitat and ecosystem loss across the globe.
A single solution to this problem is not the answer. Different habitats and situations will call for different solutions. Focusing on key principles that can be applied to many farming systems will prove a positive step.
Sustainable farming systems must include 3 main factors. They need to be:
By considering these basic set of principles sustainable farming will have a base from which to build. Practices may vary depending on location, resources available and a host of other variables.
Supporting Sustainable Farming Systems
We should encourage the use of closed loop cycles wherever possible. Closed loop cycles are systems that do not rely on exchange with any part outside of the cycle. This means that farms employing this technique will be completely self sustaining. Not needing to import anything from outside of the farm for the system to work. This will limit both inputs needed and waste produced. This technique has also been referred to as ‘biodynamic agriculture’. This approach tends to follow holistic methods. No chemicals are used in the process.
There are programmes in place that support and reward innovation in sustainable farming. Programmes such as the Duchy Originals Future Farming. It’s goal being to enable British farmers to identify and adopt practices that improve their productivity in an environmentally responsible way. It involves farmers’ nationwide coming together to develop techniques that will improve yields and nutritional performance in organic and low-input agriculture.
Joining of minds will help to compile invaluable research. This research will be used to identify best practices, track progress and develop new ideas. Collaboration will be crucial to the success of both small and large scale food production. Emphasis should be placed on this approach of exchanging knowledge. Allowing information and research efforts to be readily available to all who seek it. Both in the developed and developing world.
Some of the Benefits
Sustainable farming allows farmers to transform their farms into recycling centres.
-Crop waste and animal manure can be turned into fertilizers.
-Crop rotation will enrich soil.
-Rerouting rainwater can power irrigation systems.
With these systems in place farms will be able to:
-Conserve natural resources.
-Lower the need for chemicals and pesticides.
In turn, this will make farming a more organic, clean process. Sustainable farming practices will lead to crops that are better for both your health and the health of the environment.
Things to Consider:
One of the simplest ways to ensure healthy soil. Crops planted today will help replenish the nutrients taken from the soil by previous crops.
Most agricultural diseases only affect a certain type of crop. So, crop rotations biggest advantage may be stopping the transmission of disease.
Planting variations of the same species also helps to prevent disease.
Integrated Pest Management
A combination of varying techniques to create effective pest control systems. The process involves identifying and monitoring pests.
Attracting Beneficial Animals
Getting rid of pests and harmful insects by inviting their natural predators. Farmers can also bulk buy insects such as ladybugs and beetles to feed on pests.
Sustainable farming depends on the health of the soil more than any other factor. Ploughing will turn and air the soil. Adding various organic matters to the soil before ploughing will help add nutrients to the soil.
Livestock rotation moving animals to graze in different areas. Moving them around ensures better exposure to different plants and a more diverse diet.
Physical Removal of Weeds
More practical for smaller crops or farm areas. This method may be more labour intensive but means no chemicals are used and less cost to the farmer.
Cover crops can be used in fields to help retain moisture in the soil. It is possible to set up rainwater collection systems to feed water into irrigation systems.
Growing to Sell Locally
No need to worry about pollution created by transporting goods. It will enrich communities, minimise energy consumption and protect soil and air quality. Growing and selling locally encourages small scale farming, producing faster turnovers.
Using Alternative Energy
Solar energy tends to be the most versatile. Although there are multiple energy sources available. Alternative energy often requires a large initial investment to get started.
Every farming system should think and talk about efficiency of production. Productivity should be measured in terms of output per unit input. Recent debate suggests we need to increase food production in the future. One of the key challenges in ensuring global food security is the access to and distribution of this food.
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tagsgreen businessintegrated pest managementorganic foodsustainable food