There is a surging popularity of sustainable agriculture. Such popularity concerns are expected considering the high potential benefits associated with the farming approach. Though the subject of “sustainable agriculture” sounds self-explanatory, it involves several techniques that are quite beneficial to the people both physically and economically and at the same time offers protection to the environment. This article covers some of the basics of sustainable agriculture.
What is sustainable agriculture?
Sustainable agriculture refers to the agricultural activity that involves the production of agricultural produce –both animal and plants, using modern farming approaches aimed at the protection of the animal welfare, human communities, public health, and the environment. This type of agriculture is highly beneficial in that it enhances the production of healthy foods through process that do not compromise production in the future.
Basics of sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture is extensive; here are some examples of basic practices.
- Integrated Pest Management
The traditional farming approaches include planting one crop season after season. While such an approach can be effective, usually it leads to the creation of a suitable breeding ground for harmful insects that can have adverse impacts on the plants. If the source of food of these pests is replaced, the reproduction cycle of the pests is broken down. The implication is that the population of the insects decreases, and if the process is repeated, the number of insects is ultimately controlled.
The integrated approach to managing pests, as well, involves the introduction of natural predators of insects as a way to reduce the population of insects and significantly control their impacts on the production level. Some of the important natural insects’ predators are spiders, birds and bats. However, the use of insecticides kills the majority of these natural predators of insects.
- Crop Rotation
Crop rotation remains to be one of the most significant and earliest methods used in sustainable agriculture. Its practice can be traced back from the mid-19th century. The practice of planting one type of crop season after a season is common but it can be harmful to the soil and inhibits future agricultural production. The reason for this is the fact that continuous planting of one crop after every year can lead to the depletion of the essential nutrients in the soil. Usually, farmers tend to use fertilizers as the only way to replenish the exhausted nutrients in the soil. However, the prices of fertilizers especially in developing countries can be quite high and hard to find. Additionally, there are adverse impacts associated with the use fertilizers on the farmland. For example, once washed down to water bodies, it can lead to contamination of fresh water making it unsafe for consumption by animals.
Crop rotation is considerably the only preferred and best natural solution to the problem of exhausting soil nutrients. This practice has numerous benefits in agriculture. For example, crop rotation not only leads to health crops but also improves the management of pests. With this approach, farmers are assured of reduced number of pests in the field and hence, a high probability of increased production.
- Water Conservation
The majority of the farmers are embracing modern farming technology for its continued benefits. The majority of farmers experience much challenges when it comes to effective farming due to the lack of enough water to enhance their agricultural activities. Water conservation is a significant element of sustainable farming. According to recent statistics, a high percentage of water (70%) consumed in the world is used in the agricultural sector. Such is a high percentage which can be minimized through the adoption of successful and effective irrigation systems. Usually, it is advisable to reduce the amount of water that is lost to the atmosphere through evaporation. Sustainable agriculture recommends the adoption and use of mulches and cover crops to reduce the rate of evaporation. Such approaches ensure effective conservation of moisture and hence, reducing the amount of water lost.
In spite of this, the best way to ensure the conservation of water is through planting crops in areas that resemble those of their native climates and weather. The majority of farmers focus on the transportation of water for use in their crops. However, where the crops are non-native, such an approach is just a waste of time, water, and money. It is recommendable to plant crops during the season that favors their growth and production. For instance, water melons and tomatoes are summer crops that many people grow during the winter period in areas such as Spain but use inappropriately water-intensive irrigation systems. As such, the best way to deal with the problem of water conservation is to avoid water-intensive irrigation systems.
One of the challenges that farmers face is how to manage weeds. Weeds compete with crops for both food and water. There are different approaches that farmers use to deal with the menace caused by weeds. Some use their hands to remove the weeds, while others suggest the burning of fields after every harvest as a means of preventing the growth and spread of weeds in the farmland. Nevertheless, the burning of the farmland is not recommendable since it causes a lot of pollution which has adverse health hazards to plants and animals around.
Evidently, sustainable farming is agricultural practice aimed at improving agricultural production and protecting the future of agriculture and farming. There is a difference between sustainable farming and organic farming. The primary goal of sustainable farming is to ensure that the environment and the people around it are healthy. Sustainable farming is a significant practice that can be quiet beneficial to farmers. However, it requires careful planning, strategy, effort, and moderation for realization of eth associated benefits.
What’s your experience with sustainable farming; is there anything you need to know more about effective sustainable farming basics. Found the article useful, do not keep it –share widely to help a farmer!