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Sustainable Agriculture
09. August 2018 at 22:20
by Ranjana Chippa
Sustainable agriculture is the production of plant and animal products, including food, in a way which uses farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, communities, and the welfare of animals without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The key to sustainable agriculture is finding the right balance between the need for food production and the preservation of environmental ecosystems.
Sustainable agriculture also promotes economic stability for farms and helps farmers to better their quality of life. The importance of sustainable agriculture is rooted in three issues that are very much linked to one another:

1) Fossil fuel depletion,
2) Climate change due to CO2 emissions, and
3) The increasing costs of energy and water

Need of sustainable agriculture: Due to population increase, it is estimated that by 2050 we will need approximately 70% more food than is currently being produced in order to provide the increasing population with their recommended daily calorie intake. The Sustainable Development Goal to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” recognizes the inter linkages among supporting sustainable agriculture, empowering small farmers, promoting gender equality, ending rural poverty, ensuring healthy lifestyles.
Objectives of sustainable agriculture: A healthy environment, economic profitability, and social and economic equity.

It is important to point out that reaching toward the goal of sustainable agriculture is the responsibility of all participants in the system, including farmers, laborers, policymakers, researchers, retailers, and consumers. Each group has its own part to play, its own unique contribution to make to strengthen the sustainable agriculture community. The strategies for realizing these broad themes or goals: Farming and Natural Resources, Plant and Animal Production Practices, and the Economic, Social and Political Context.

Key principles of sustainable agriculture
1. Maximize organic matter production: Soils can be made highly fertile by using green manures and organic manures.
2. Keep the soil covered : Use of mulches protect the soil from irradiation and the heat of the tropical sun, thereby also reducing burn out of organic matter. Mulches keep the excess nitrogen from acidifying the upper soil horizons and they largely prevent soil erosion, even on slopes of 40%.
3. Zero Tillage : Zero tillage is applying massive amounts of organic matter to the soil. The enhanced biological activity under zero tillage is the key to soil structure renovation, reduced soil compaction, higher fertility and decreased cost.
4. Maintain biological diversity : To avoid diseases and insect pests, confirmed another, more widely known principle: maintain biological diversity.
5. Feed plants through the mulch : Feeding plants through a mulch would seem a much more promising alternative for crop productivity.

Methods of Sustainable Agriculture
Crop Rotation: Crop rotation helps to tackle pest problems by breaking the reproduction cycles of pests and avoiding the consequences that come with planting the same crops in field. During rotation, farmers can plant certain crops, which replenish plant nutrients and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.

Cover Crops: By planting cover crops, such as clover or oats, the farmer can preventing soil erosion, suppressing the growth of weeds, and enhancing the quality of the soil by reducing the need for chemicals such as fertilizers.

Soil Enrichment: Healthy soil is full of life, increase yields as well as creating more robust crops. Leaving crop residue in the field after a harvest, and the use of composted plant material or animal manure to maintain and enhance the quality of soil and preventing the soil killed by the overuse of pesticides.

Natural Pest Predators: Many birds and other animals are in fact natural predators of agricultural pests. Managing your farm so that it can harbor populations of these pest predators is an effective as well as a sophisticated technique.

Integrated pest management (IPM)- This is an approach, which really relies on biological as opposed to chemical methods. It emphasizes the importance of crop rotation to combat pest management and chemical solutions will only be used as a last resort. Instead the appropriate responses would be the use of sterile males, and biocontrol agents such as ladybirds.

Benefits of Sustainable Agriculture
Contributes to Environmental Conservation: Sustainable agriculture helps to replenish the land as well as other natural resources such as water and air, this ensures that these natural resources will be able for future generations to sustain life.

Public Health Safety: Sustainable agriculture avoids hazardous pesticides and fertilizers. As a result, farmers are able to produce fruits, vegetables and other crops that are safer for consumers, workers, and surrounding communities. Through careful and proper management of livestock waste, sustainable farmers are able to protect humans from exposure to pathogens, toxins, and other hazardous pollutants.

Prevents Pollution: Sustainable agriculture means that any waste a farm produces remains inside the farms ecosystem i.e. the waste cannot cause pollution.

Biodiversity: Sustainable farms produces a wide variety of plants and animals resulting in biodiversity. During crop rotation, plants are seasonally rotated and this results in soil enrichment, prevention of diseases, and pest outbreaks.

Beneficial to Animals: Sustainable agriculture results in animals being better cared for, as well as treated humanely and with respect. Sustainable farmers and ranchers implement livestock husbandry practices that protect animals health.

Economically Beneficial For Farmers: In exchange for engaging with sustainable farming methods, farmers receive a fair wage for their produce. This greatly reduces their reliance on government subsidies and strengthens rural communities. Organic farms typically require less labor than factory farms, so cost will reduce.

Social Equality: Practicing sustainable agriculture techniques also benefits workers as they are offered a more competitive salary as well as benefits. They also work in humane and fair working conditions, which include a safe work environment, food, and adequate living conditions.

Reduction in Cost: The use of sustainable agriculture reduces the need for fossil fuels, resulting in significant cost savings in terms of purchasing as well as transporting them. This in turn lessens the overall costs involved in farming.
Cite This Article As: Ranjana Chippa. "Sustainable Agriculture." International Youth Journal, 09. August 2018.

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