How to practice sustainable agriculture


Sustainable agriculture practices

  • Planting cover crops. Cover crops, like clover or hairy vetch, are planted during off-season times when soils might otherwise be left bare.
  • Integrating livestock and crops. …
  • Adopting agroforestry practices. …
Sustainable agriculture practices
  1. Rotating crops and embracing diversity. …
  2. Planting cover crops and perennials. …
  3. Reducing or eliminating tillage. …
  4. Applying integrated pest management (IPM). …
  5. Integrating livestock and crops. …
  6. Adopting agroforestry practices. …
  7. Managing whole systems and landscapes.
Apr 10, 2017


What are the different types of sustainable agricultural practices?

 · Sustainable Agriculture Practices A landscape approach. Farms are not isolated from one another or from the natural systems around them, and they function… Crop diversity and rotation. Agriculture in the U.S. Midwest is dominated by two crops—corn and soybeans—grown… Cover crops. On many farms …

What are some examples of sustainable farming practices?

Here are a few of the most popular techniques used by farmers practicing sustainable agriculture. Crop Rotation Cover Crops Soil Enrichment Natural Pest Predators Biointensive Integrated Pest Management Crop Rotation Crop rotation is the practice of changing the crop a field grows each planting season.

What are the three principles of sustainable agriculture?

“The goal of sustainable agriculture is to meet society’s food and textile needs in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Practitioners of sustainable agriculture seek to integrate three main objectives into their work: a healthy environment, economic profitability, and social and economic equity.”

What are the pros of sustainable agriculture?

We create financial incentives to encourage biodiversity conservation, improve agricultural policies, and identify new income opportunities for producers. When agricultural operations are sustainably managed, they can preserve and restore critical habitats, help protect watersheds, and improve soil health and water quality.


What are sustainable agricultural practices?

Sustainable agricultural practices are those that enable more efficient use of natural resources, mitigate the impact of agriculture on the environment, and strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change and climate variability.

What are the 5 key sustainable agricultural practices?

Composting, buying organic, and locating food close to its source are all ways you can reduce your environmental impact while supporting the agriculture of the future!…More On Sustainable PracticesProper runoff management.Minimum till and no-till farming.Crop rotation and diversity.Integrating crops and animals.

How can we manage sustainable agriculture?

Reducing risk exposure through diversification of production or incomes, and building input supply systems and extension services that support efficient and timely use of inputs and adopting climate resilient stress tolerant crop varieties, livestock breeds and fish and forestry species.

What is the most sustainable agricultural practice?

Top 5 sustainable and eco-friendly farming practicesPermaculture. Permaculture is a food production system which mimics how vegetables and plants grow in natural ecosystems. … Aquaponics & Hydroponics. … Using Renewable Energy Resources. … Crop Rotation & Polycultures. … Trees Can Increase Crop Yields.

What is a sustainable practice?

Sustainable practices are the processes services employ to maintain the qualities that are valued in the physical environment. Living sustainably is about living within the means of natural systems (environment) and ensuring that our lifestyle doesn’t harm other people.

How can sustainable agriculture help us?

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 are the good agricultural practices?

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audits are voluntary audits that verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.

What are the four methods of sustainable agriculture?

Methods of Sustainable AgricultureCrop Rotation. Crop rotation is one of the most powerful techniques of sustainable agriculture. … Permaculture. … Cover Crops. … Soil Enrichment. … Natural Pest Predators. … Bio intensive Integrated Pest Management. … Polyculture Farming. … Agroforestry.More items…

How can farmers improve their operations?

Farmers can also improve their operations by partnering with neighboring farmers to share and conserve resources. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has had success pairing dozens of farmers on thousands of acres for innovative collaborations—swapping livestock manure for feed crops, integrating cropping systems, and sharing equipment—that have led to environmental improvement and increased farm profitability. Such cooperation could generate similar benefits anywhere agricultural diversity exists.

How can livestock reintegration be accomplished?

Crop and livestock reintegration can be accomplished on a regional basis or on individual farms; distributing animal operations throughout the Midwest would produce a range of benefits, from reduced nutrient pollution to enhanced soil fertility. And integrated livestock production would support local markets for forage crops such as alfalfa, helping to facilitate longer crop rotations and conservation practices in the region.

Why is it important to have a multi-year crop rotation?

Recent research has demonstrated that multi-year, multi-crop rotations produce high yields for each crop in the rotation, control pests and weeds with less reliance on chemical pesticides, and enhance soil fertility with less need for synthetic fertilizers.

What crops are nitrogen producing?

Soil fertility. Rotations that include nitrogen-producing legumes such as peas, beans, and alfalfa provide subsequent crops with substantial amounts of this critical nutrient. And recent research shows that nitrogen from legumes remains in the soil longer than the nitrogen in synthetic fertilizers, leaving less to leach into groundwater or run off fields and pollute streams.

What are some examples of uncultivated areas?

Recent research has shown, for example, that uncultivated areas on and near farms—including trees, shrubs, and grasses at the edges of crop fields and along streams— can serve as resources for farmers.

Why are cover crops planted on only a small fraction of farmland?

Despite these potential benefits, cover crops are currently planted on only a small fraction of U.S. farmland. Why? Substantial economic and technical barriers —some embedded in government policies—discourage farmers from growing them. New or modified policies that promote cover crop adoption, on the other hand, would enable farmers, taxpayers, and communities across the country to reap the benefits.

Why do farmers grow cover crops?

Some farmers grow plants known as cover crops to protect and build their soil during the off-season, or for livestock grazing or forage.


Understand that being certified organic doesn’t guarantee sustainable practices. What an organic label means is that the food was grown or raised without the use of synthetic chemicals (but there ARE exceptions).


Practicing sustainable agriculture information on a large scale calls for a very different approach than on a smaller scale. Tailor your sustainability practices accordingly.

Sources and Citations

“Sustainable Agriculture, Personally Defined” – Article from which the basic structure and content of this how-to was derived. Shared with permission.

Why is sustainable agriculture important?

Firstly, and most importantly, sustainable agriculture produces safe food with high nutritional value. The quality of food is now more important than ever before. Numerous studies found out that the nutritional content of grains and fruits with vegetables keeps decreasing.

What are the main aims of sustainable agriculture?

One of the main aims of sustainable agricultural practices is the prevention of the use of synthetic pesticides and other chemicals that should suppress pest infestations and pathogens. Applying increasing amounts of chemicals to grow food is not part of the long-term solution and doesn’t help our health either.

What is agroforestry?

Agroforestry involves the growth of trees and shrubs amongst crops or grazing land. Agroforestry systems can combine both agriculture and forestry practices for long-lasting, productive, and diverse land use when approached sustainably.

How does biodynamics help food production?

Biodynamics emphasizes the importance of reducing the use of off-site inputs (such as importing soil fertility) by generating the necessary health and soil fertility for food production onsite. This is achieved through the implementation of practices such as composting, application of animal manure from farmed animals, cover cropping or rotating complementary crops.

Why is raising animals important in biodynamics?

This includes raising animals on a farm in a way that they help replenish soil fertility and enhance plant growth. One of the building pillars of biodynamics is high biodiversity of plants, animals and beneficial insects. The goal is the creation of a resilient ecosystem that benefits us and other living organisms.

Why are trees important in agroforestry?

Trees have another important role. They stabilize soils, minimize nutrient runoff and improve soil structure. This is the reason why agroforestry has become one of the powerful tools of farmers in dry regions with soils susceptible to desertification.

What is biodynamic agriculture?

Biodynamic practices can be applied to farms that grow variety of produce, gardens, vineyards, and other forms of agriculture.

How can we mitigate the effects of chemical based agriculture?

To mitigate the effects of chemical-based and industrial agriculture, you need to use the best knowledge and technology available to get the best results. If done well, farmers can use less pesticide and fertilizer which saves money and protects the farmland (making it more productive), not to mention the environment.

What crops are used in crop rotation?

These crops include hairy vetch, clover, and oats.

What are the products of good soil?

The product of good soil is a crop that is less likely to be eaten by pests. But bad soil produces crops that need a lot of fertilizer to produce well. There are several ways to improve the quality of the soil. Cover crops, leaving crop residue, and compost all help.

Why is it important to cover crops?

Cover Crops. The right cover crop is worth your the time and effort because it makes your land less susceptible to insects and weeds and more nutrient-filled. This way, the land will need fewer chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides. It is easy to argue that soil is the prized possession of any farmland.

What is the prized possession of farmland?

It is easy to argue that soil is the prized possession of any farmland. Healthy soil means growth and life both of crops and helpful insects and microbes. But those helpful little friends are often destroyed by pesticides. The product of good soil is a crop that is less likely to be eaten by pests.

Why do farmers use rotations?

Using rotations, agriculturalists have a chance to utilize soybeans and legumes to replenish the soil so that artificial fertilizers aren’t needed as much. Cycling soybeans and corn makes it so nitrogen levels are higher in the soil, resulting in higher corn yields.

How long does it take for corn borers to be controlled?

farmers since corn is generally grown in two-year rotations with soybeans. It would take at least a four-year rotation to control many pests like corn borers. Rotation is a natural pest deterrent that by breaking up the pests’ reproductive cycles.

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 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.

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 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 do farmers use industrial agriculture?

In other words, they grow the same crops every year using toxic chemicals that damage the crops and the soil beneath them. Because the soil is eventually depleted with these methods, it’s not the most fruitful practice available today. Instead, many farmers are turning to sustainable agriculture.

How can farmers reduce pests?

Farmers can use other methods to reduce pests than toxic chemicals. This includes both mechanical and biological methods that are safer for the crops and the farm. This helps keep pests away from the crops but eliminates the use of chemicals that can cause other damages to the crops.

Why do we need cover crops?

Cover crops also help preserve the soil on a farm. During times when the crops are picked and the soil is left barren, cover crops can help it keeps its nutrients. The crops serve as a protection by eliminating the growth of weeds and keeping the soil healthy so there is less of a need for chemical use when it’s time to plant again.

Why do farmers rotate their crops?

It involves a steady rotation of crops to help the soil stay healthy. When you don’t plant the same crops in the same areas, the soil has a chance to reap the nutrients it needs, rather than depleting it of them because the same crops get planted over and over again.

What is the process of turning over the soil?

Tillage is the process of turning over the soil. While it might make the soil more fertile, it also causes a lot of soil loss. Farmers can avoid tilling or reduce the amount that they till to avoid the loss of soil. This requires farmers to plant the seeds in the soil ‘as is,’ rather than after it is tilled.

Do farmers keep livestock far away from each other?

Traditionally, farmers kept livestock and crops far away from one another. Most farmers did one or the other type of farming – they did not do both. Today, they do both and it helps the crops immensely. Studies show that this method can help the crops thrive and the livestock live healthier lives.

What is sustainable agriculture?

Sustainable agriculture serves as a much-needed alternative to the industrial farming practices that have been employed in the United States for decades. These methods, which include repeatedly planting the same crop on one plot of land and encouraging growth through the heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers, …

What are the three main goals of sustainable agriculture?

The three main goals of sustainable agriculture are economic profitability for farmers; the promotion of environmental stewardship; and an increase in welfare for farmers, their communities, and their animals while producing enough to meet the needs of humans.

Why are antibiotics not used in agriculture?

Antibiotic Resistance: Because antibiotics are not used for preventive medicine in sustainable agriculture, implementing sustainable methods of production increases the effectiveness of antibiotics in treating people. Pandemics: Industrial agriculture, in which animals are kept in tight quarters, is a driver of disease.

Why are sustainable methods of production more likely to support and rely on the local economy?

Localization: Sustainable methods of production are more likely to support and rely on the local economy. Farms are no longer purchasing products, such as fertilizers and pesticides, from outside their communities, and instead are relying more heavily on local resources such as labor.

How has agriculture dominated food production in the United States?

It is characterized by large tracts of land planted with one crop, extensive use of fertilizers and pesticides, animals being held in CAFOs, and an emphasis on a select few crops that are used for animal feed and the production of processed foods.

How does agriculture affect the environment?

Environmental Impacts. Industrial agriculture is a driving force behind water pollution, soil degradation, and air pollution. The animals housed in CAFOs produce tons of manure every year which is either stored or applied to fields as a fertilizer.

What is the Farm Bill?

The Farm Bill also provides for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program which provide financial and technical assistance to farms that use sustainable methods that encourage improved water, air, and soil quality. The total budget for these programs is less than $5 billion.

What are sustainable business practices?

In the agriculture and food industry, sustainable business practices are intended to protect the environment, reduce waste production, increase productivity, and reduce operating costs.

Why is it important to implement sustainable business practices?

Besides, the implementation of sustainable business practices helps companies to save money.

How does composting help the environment?

Also,the composting process averts methane emissions that cause global warming, and it converts organic material into valuable fertilizer that can be used to enrich poor soil and improve plant growth. Besides, composting also benefits restaurants and farmlands by lowering their waste hauling and disposal cost. 3.

How does food waste affect the atmosphere?

In the agriculture and food industry, waste is generated daily from the production of food to its processing, distribution, and consumption. Without thoughtful management, organic waste can emit methane gas as they decompose. Molecules of methane that make their way into the atmosphere create a warming effect that is up to 34 times stronger than carbon dioxide over a 100-year time horizon. The emission of methane gas into the atmosphere can be controlled through the use of methane digesters that transform food waste into two main products: biogas (an energy source) and solids called digestrate (a nutrient-rich fertilizer). The biogas generated can help businesses to save money by reducing their operating cost. For example, biogas can be used on the farm to heat buildings, and for restaurants, it can be used as an energy source for cooking. In other words, biogas can be used to reduce or eliminate electric bills. Furthermore, excess biogas can also be sold to neighboring operations and utility grids and this can serve as a source of revenue for businesses.

What are some examples of sustainable irrigation?

Examples of sustainable irrigation methods include drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, deficit irrigation, sensor irrigation, etc. The use of these irrigation methods could avoid about 1.13 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions and save about 68 billion gallons of water. 4. Biodegradable packaging:

What is silvopasture in agriculture?

Silvopasture is the intentional combination of trees, forage plants, and grazing livestock on the same land. Since livestock produces roughly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, the silvopastoral system has been acknowledged as the best grassland technique for sequestering carbon in both the biomass aboveground and the soil below. Furthermore, by integrating livestock, trees, and any additional forestry products, such as nuts, fruits, mushrooms, and maple syrup, landowners can generate stable income on different time horizons — some more regularly and short-term (sale of chickens, nuts, fruits, etc.), and some at much longer intervals (timbers and cattle, etc.).Also, because the integration of trees into grazing lands enhances soil fertility and moisture, farmers can cut costs by reducing the use of fertilizer and irrigation.

Why is sustainability important in business?

Sustainable business practices involve environmental-friendly and socially responsible initiatives implemented by a company to reduce its environmental footprint and contribute to equitable social development. The type of initiatives that a company implements often depends on their financial resources and the extent to which they are willing to reduce carbon emissions and promote social sustainability. Besides, the implementation of sustainable business practices helps companies to save money.


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