can agriculture be sustainable



Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Agriculture contributes directly to sustainable stewardship of the land, air and water.Dec 6, 2021

Is sustainable agriculture possible?

The bottom line. Today’s well-managed sustainable agriculture yields nearly as much as conventional equivalents, suggesting that it is possible to farm sustainably without sacrificing yields and, therefore, profits.

Why is agriculture not sustainable?

“Ultimately the practice of modern farming is not sustainable” because “the damage to the soil and natural ecosystems is so great that farming becomes dependent not on the land but on the artificial inputs into the process, such as fertilizers and pesticides.

How has agriculture be more sustainable?

Rotating crops and embracing diversity. Planting a variety of crops can have many benefits, including healthier soil and improved pest control. Crop diversity practices include intercropping (growing a mix of crops in the same area) and complex multiyear crop rotations.

What is considered sustainable agriculture?

“Sustainable agriculture” as legally defined in U.S. Code Title 7, Section 3103 means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will over the long term: Satisfy human food and fiber needs.

What are unsustainable farming methods?

Popular Unsustainable Techniques Used in Modern AgricultureUsing lots of chemicals. … Growing and producing genetically modified organisms. … Growing monoculture crops. … Overproduction and more food waste. … Global corporate agribusiness. … Growing crops on every space and inch of land available. … Natural vegetation clearing.More items…•

Why is conventional agriculture unsustainable?

Compared to sustainable farming, conventional crops are terribly inefficient at maintaining the integrity of agricultural landscapes. Conventional agriculture is therefore unable meet the demands of the growing populations without consuming a substantial amount of land and non-renewable resources.

Is modern agriculture sustainable?

One of the biggest modern myths about agriculture is that organic farming is inherently sustainable. It can be, but it isn’t necessarily. After all, soil erosion from chemical-free tilled fields undermined the Roman Empire and other ancient societies around the world.

What are the roles of agriculture in sustainable development?

A sustainable practice of agriculture leads to a healthy environment and people. How agricultural goods are produced determines for instance the quality of ground water and food and consequently also our human health, and further how much the sector is contributing to climate change.

What are the benefits of sustainable agriculture?

In addition to preserving the earth’s natural resources, sustainable agriculture benefits the environment through helping maintain soil quality, reducing erosion, and preserving water.


What is sustainable farming?

Sustainable farms treat uncultivated or less intensively cultivated areas, such as riparian buffers or prairie strips, as integral to the farm —valued for their role in controlling erosion, reducing nutrient runoff, and supporting pollinators and other biodiversity.

What is sustainability in agriculture?

In agriculture, sustainability is a complex idea with many facets, including the economic (a sustainable farm should be a profitable business that contributes to a robust economy), the social (it should deal fairly with its workers and have a mutually beneficial relationship with the surrounding community), and the environmental.

How do crops protect soil?

These crops protect and build soil health by preventing erosion, replenishing soil nutrients, and keeping weeds in check, reducing the need for herbicides. Reducing or eliminating tillage. Traditional plowing (tillage) prepares fields for planting and prevents weed problems, but can cause a lot of soil loss.

What are the goals of agroecology?

Among other things, this involves: Building and maintaining healthy soil. Managing water wisely. Minimizing air, water, and climate pollution. Promoting biodiversity. There’s a whole field of research devoted to achieving these goals: agroecology, the science of managing farms as ecosystems.

How can we make sustainable agriculture the dominant model in the US?

If we want to see sustainable farming become the dominant model in the US, we need policies like those in the ARA —and we can’t stop there. UCS has published a series of reports and issue briefs that offer recommendations for promoting sustainable agriculture through farm policy, as part of our overall goal of transforming our food system to provide healthy, affordable, fairly and sustainably produced food for all Americans. We encourage you to take a look–and then contact your representatives to ask them to support sustainable agriculture.

Why is it important to support agroecology research?

To help farmers adopt sustainable practices, it’s vitally important that we continue to support agroecology research, along with outreach and education to help farmers make effective use of the science.

What is the theme of agriculture?

A key theme connecting many of these practices is diversification . “Keep it simple” is good advice in many situations, but when it comes to agriculture, the most sustainable and productive systems are more diverse and complex—like nature itself.

How does agriculture affect the environment?

While agricultural operations provide unique opportunities to conserve biodiversity, they also can threaten wild species and spaces. From habitat loss to pollution, agriculture contributes to many of the environmental challenges that WWF actively addresses.

How does farming affect the atmosphere?

Many farming practices—such as burning fields and using gasoline-powered machinery—are significant contributors to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) contends that the livestock sector alone is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas production. Additionally, clearing land for agricultural production is a major contributor to climate change, as the carbon stored in intact forests is released when they are cut or burned.

What is the impact of agricultural expansion on biodiversity?

Agricultural expansion is a major driver of deforestation and other ecological destruction, decimating habitats and biodiversity. Oil palm displaces lowland forests in Indonesia while soy production damages the Cerrado and Atlantic Forests of Brazil and Paraguay. Loss of forests and unsustainable farming practices lead to extreme erosion. During the past 150 years, half of all agricultural topsoil has been lost.

Why is sustainable resource management important?

The need for sustainable resource management is increasingly urgent. Demand for agricultural commodities is rising rapidly as the world’s population grows. Agriculture’s deep connections to the world economy, human societies and biodiversity make it one of the most important frontiers for conservation around the globe.

How much water does agriculture use?

The agricultural sector consumes about 69 percent of the planet’s fresh water. Without creative conservation measures in place, agricultural production consumes excessive water and degrades water quality. This adversely impacts freshwater systems throughout the world.

How can agriculture be sustainable?

In order for agriculture to be sustainable, it must have the goal of sustaining communities, farmers, and resources. To achieve this goal, sustainable agriculture usually uses methods that minimize ecological impact and are also profitable —tenets known as ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially supportive.

How does sustainable agriculture affect the environment?

If we want to preserve our land, soil erosion and degradation must be avoided at all costs. As humans continue to build, however, the land continues to be affected. Urban development negatively impacts the land and contributes to loss of biodiversity. Again, it also contributes to soil erosion. This is where urban planning comes into play. Urban planning is a political process that focuses on sustainable ways to use land for the sake of development. It takes into consideration the air, water, and infrastructure touching urban areas, which can include transportation and the physical layout of cities.

How does urban development affect biodiversity?

Urban development negatively impacts the land and contributes to loss of biodiversity. Again, it also contributes to soil erosion. This is where urban planning comes into play. Urban planning is a political process that focuses on sustainable ways to use land for the sake of development.

How does agriculture treat the land used for farming?

Sustainable agriculture seeks to consider the impacts of land use, anticipating these impacts, and if possible, avoiding them. Improper farming practices can result in land degradation — the process in which the value of the environment is affected by human-induced processes. Degradation can constitute any disturbance in how the land was prior, making it barren, unusable, or undesirable.

Is sustainable agriculture taking more than what can be replenished?

In short, sustainable agriculture is not taking more than what can be replenished.

Why is water important in agriculture?

Water is another key factor in sustainable agriculture because water is so important to growth . Without adequate rainfall or irrigation, sustainable agriculture would not be successful. Eating out of season and shipping produce further away also exacerbates the issue; when we don’t eat seasonally (or locally for that matter), it takes water from one farm and ships the water or crop to a different region. More resources are needed (including water) to grow strawberries in winter when technically, they are not supposed to be growing in winter because it’s not their season.

Is no till farming bad for the soil?

No-till farming is one of the key components of using sustainable agriculture to maintain our soil. Tilling is just one bad practice of many. Irrigation that lacks proper drainage is another bad agricultural practice to avoid as it also contributes to long-term damage of the soil, called salinization.

Why is sustainable agriculture important?

Sustainable agriculture don’t use hazardous pesticides and fertilizers. As a result, farmers are able to produce safer and healthier food for consumers and surrounding communities.

What are the benefits of sustainable agriculture?

The first advantage of sustainable agriculture is the protection of the environment, reducing erosion and natural resource degradation, improving air and water quality, increasing biodiversity, as well as decreasing carbon emissions.

What is agroforestry?

Agroforestry is the association of trees and crops or animals on the same plot. This ancestral practice allows a better use of resources, a greater biological diversity and the creation of a microclimate favorable to yield increase. Likewise, a smart integration of animal production can be a recipe for more efficient crops and profitable farms.

Why is it important to reduce tillage?

Reducing or avoiding tillage allows to grow crops without disturbing the soil arrangement and thus reduce erosion, but also increases the amount of infiltrating water, boosts organic matter retention and nutrient cycle.

How does sustainable agriculture help food security?

With the growing population and the persistently high levels of hunger and malnutrition, sustainable agriculture yields need to address the food security issue by producing more in less time, while using fewer natural resources . 2. Natural resources availability.

What are the challenges facing green agriculture?

The other big challenge that green agriculture is facing is undoubtedly the rapid degradation and depletion of natural resources.

What is smart farming?

Smart farming and precision agriculture play a crucial part in sustainable agriculture, using big data and new technologies such as IoT, drone imagery and smartphone apps to harvest as much matter and products as possible, while consuming less energy and inputs (fertilizers, phytosanitary products, water).

How does agricultural commercialization affect the environment?

Agricultural commercialisation is also gradually leading to losses due to soil infertility. Loss of genetic diversity is already an emerging concern.

How much is the pesticide industry worth in 2022?

The global pesticide industry is currently estimated at USD 70 billion and is expected to reach USD 90.1 billion by 2022. Professor Anil Shrestha of California State University points out that up to 40% of global crop yields are lost to pests, diseases or post-harvest losses every year, which could double without pesticide use. According to Crop Life Foundation, half the fields in Africa don’t get planted because of weeds. Then, there is evidence that suggests that changing climate is increasing pest and disease incidence, compelling farmers to increase the use of such chemicals.

What is the best approach to sustainability in animal agriculture?

Supporting farmers who raise their livestock on pasture and distribute their products at a regional scale is the best approach to sustainability in animal agriculture.

Why is animal agriculture important?

Developing a more sustainable approach to animal agriculture will be essential to providing nutritious food for a growing population and using animals to regenerate soil and manage pests without chemicals.

What happens to the manure on a dairy farm?

Today, many dairy farms have large pools of manure that are swept out of the barns into a collecting drain. While the waste is sometimes spread on crop fields as a fertilizer, it often ends up polluting local waterways and increasing the prevalence of disease.

Why is sustainability important for livestock?

Sustainably raised livestock is a vital part of a farm nutrient cycle, in which excess nutrients in the form of manure can be used to build up healthy soil for more crops.

What is sustainability in food?

In the end, sustainability is all about how the product is produced and its contribution to society. Is the animal raised humanely and in an environmentally-friendly manner? Is the result a nutritious source of food for a growing population? Sustainability must be measured both in terms of food security and resource management.

What does sustainable livestock look like?

For example, some farmers may raise one type of livestock to help manage pests in their crop fields. Free-range chickens are a great way to control insect pressure in annual crop fields. On the other hand, ranchers may raise hundreds of cattle, moving them daily to fresh pastures.

Why are farmers pushing back against industrialized livestock production?

Farmers are pushing back against industrialized livestock production, recognizing it can be sustainable if done right. Pastured animals diversify income streams, promote healthy soil and provide nutrient-dense protein for local communities. The key is focusing on pastured animals that work as part of a closed-loop system, and whose products are distributed on a regional level instead of an international one.

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