Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture is the desire to have agriculture production meet the needs of society while using sustainable methods that ensure the long-term future of the planet. This includes the production of food and the production of textiles desired by society. The three main goals of sustainable agriculture are to ensure environmental health, increase economic profitability, and enhance social and economic equality. Reaching all of these goals is important to having an efficiently-running, sustainable system. Here’s how agriculture can affect natural resources and what ideas can be integrated to prevent environmental degradation.

Water is the main resource of agriculture as animals and plants need it to survive. Drought and floods can greatly impact agriculture by destroying crops and can pose dangerous conditions for animals. Implementing plans for what to do during a drought, such as storing water, can be helpful in ensuring that these conditions don’t impact agriculture negatively. Water quality is a huge concern that many people focus on when thinking about sustainable agriculture. In misuse, pesticides, herbicides, and other contaminants can wreak havoc on a water source. Proper education on these contaminants and decreased use can help reduce or stop their negative effects on the water system.

Energy is a huge resource that poses a serious problem for sustainable agriculture. Agriculture practices often run on non-renewable energy, and the transition to renewable sources will be a problematic one. An attempt to abandon all non-renewable energy to go sustainable would cause serious problems for the economy as the sustainable energy resources available are not yet where they need to be to support our current agriculture system. In order to transition to sustainable, renewable energy sources, the transition needs to be gradual and will take time, which is why it needs to be started now.

Air quality can also be impacted from agriculture practices through the exposure of dust from tilling, pesticides from spraying, agriculture burning, and the running of farm equipment. These issues can be avoided by changing tillage practices, using cover crops, and planting wind barriers which can be used to prevent pesticides from spreading far through the air.

The last natural resource that is impacted from farming is soil. Soil erosion is quickly becoming a serious issue because as soil erodes away, the land where crops are grown can no longer be used to continue to grow crops. Soils are also being depleted of energy sources necessary for crop growth. These issues can be resolved, however, by reducing tillage, using cover crops or compost to return nutrients, and by properly managing irrigation of crops to prevent overwatering.

The overlying goal of sustainable agriculture is education, not only for the farmers, but for laborers, policymakers, researchers, retailers, and consumers. Now, you may finish reading this and think, wow agriculture is so bad for the environment, we need to fix this now. But in reality, agriculture is not as bad for the environment as many other large production industries are. Farmers are stewards of the land, meaning they have the greatest care for the soil they raise crops on and the animals they raise. Farmers are more environmentally friendly than most politicians, celebrities, and corporate CEOs, because the land they care for is their entire livelihood. Sure, agriculture practices do need to take some steps to become more sustainable to ensure the ability for future generations to continue these practices, but these steps must be taken gradually as agriculture is the foundation of life on earth and any great change would surely cause utter chaos.

I’m a huge advocate for agriculture and I desire to help this industry become more sustainable through educating those who are less informed. It is important to recognize that this transition is a group effort and to become informed on how to help an industry so important to the survival of humanity become sustainable to increase the survival of Earth.

All the sources for this article come from this website.