Perhaps it’s time we examine other farming methods. Are there new ideas to make farming more sustainable? This is a basic introduction to sustainable agriculture.  Sustainable farming has many benefits and will be important for our future.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE DEFINED

In agriculture, sustainability is a complex topic.  For example, sustainable farming has economic, social, and environmental components. Environmental sustainability in agriculture means good stewardship of the natural systems and resources that farms rely on. This involves building and maintaining healthy soil, managing water wisely, minimizing climate pollution, and promoting biodiversity. Overall these practices comprise agroecology, the science of managing farms as ecosystems.

IS SUSTAINABLE THE SAME AS ORGANIC?

No, organic and sustainable aren’t the same. Current organic standards leave room for some practices that are not optimally sustainable. Also, not all farmers who use sustainable practices qualify for USDA certification. Farmers have to apply for organic status or choose to pursue it. Overall, certified organic fruits and vegetables are more likely to have been produced more sustainably than conventionally grown produce.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PRACTICES

* Rotating crops and planting a variety of crops helps create healthier soil. Additionally, rotation helps improve pest control. Another technique is intercropping. That’s when farmers grow a mix of crops in the same area.

* Planting cover crops during off-season times. When soils are left bare they can suffer deterioration. So, keeping them covered is an effective way to protect and build soil health. This activity prevents erosion, replenishes soil nutrients, and restricts weed growth.

* Reduce tilling by inserting seeds directly into undisturbed soil. This practice reduces erosion and improves soil health. Traditional plowing can cause a lot of soil loss.

* Integrated pest management (IPM) is also important.  Some techniques include mechanical and biological controls to keep pest populations under control.  These both help to minimize the use of pesticides.

* Adopting agroforestry and adding trees or shrubs to farm operations. The trees and shrubs provide shade and shelter to protect plants, animals, and water sources.

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