If we people have to choose between the food grown naturally i.e without the aid of any type of chemicals or the food that is being grown by the use of excess pesticides, chemical fertilizers and many other chemicals, Probably we will go for the food that is being produced naturally.
In this industrialized world, most foods are grown with the use of excess Fertilizers, Pesticides. So, unhappily we are consuming them despite our preference. In this type of agriculture, large amounts of fuels, basically fossil fuels and other resources are heavily consumed. With the advancement in technologies, production and productivity have increased ensuring food security. However, the practices of agriculture in industrialized society depends on the heavy use of chemicals has many fold negative impacts on the soil. So, intending to reduce the negative consequences of modernized agri-systems, the term ‘sustainable agriculture’ has evolved. People have diverse concerns, goals, interests and opinions about sustainable agriculture.
Sustainable Agriculture Defination
Sustainable agriculture is defined in many ways. Sustainability is not a one or two year goal, it may take generation to generation or even more.
Sustainable agriculture is a way of managing the resources used in agriculture, focusing on fulfilling the basic needs of human beings and side by side conserving the natural resources and thus enhancing the quality of the environment.
Carrying out agricultural operations without the depletion of natural resources is often called sustainable agriculture.
Another holistic defination sustainable agriculture is given by FAO. FAO defined sustainable agriculture in 1988 as “the management and conservation of the natural resource base, and the orientation of technological change in such a manner as to ensure the attainment of continued satisfaction of human needs for present and future generations. Sustainable agriculture conserves land, water, and plant and animal genetic resources, and is environmentally non-degrading, technically appropriate, economically viable and socially acceptable”.
This – it is the type of agriculture that mainly focuses on producing long term crops and livestock while having minimal effect on the environment and maintains a good balance between production and uses of resources.
It also helps to maintain economic stability and hence improves the life quality of farmers. It is the integrated system of production practices that aims to be sustained for a longer duration. In contrast, we can say that sustainability in agriculture refers to sustaining the productivity of an agroecosystem for an indefinite period of time by ensuring basic human needs. In short, Sustainable agriculture is one that:-
•Ensures the basic needs of mankind.
•Conserves natural resources and enhances the quality of the environment.
•Focuses on most efficient use of non-renewable as well as on farm resources.
•Improves the life standard of farmers.
•Focuses on conservation agriculture.
Sustainable agriculture may also be dealt from following three attributes:-
➡️As a goal, it aims to fulfil all the basic needs of society for the long term without depleting the natural resources.
➡️As a vision, Sustainability is a practice that is free from all the ill effects of past and present agricultural systems.
➡️As an approach or management, it is a way of managing resources towards achieving self-sufficiency and self-reliance.
Criteria For Sustainable Agriculture
1. Ecologically sound
It should have minimal effect on the biotic and abiotic components of nature and must have the provision of conserving them.
2. Economically viable
It should focus on enough production for self-sufficiency and income and gain sufficient income to cover the labour cost involved.
3. Socially Just
Resources should be distributed in such a manner that the basic needs of all the members of a society are met.
It should be humane in the sense that all forms of life existing in nature are respected.
It should be easily adaptable.
Principles of Sustainable Agriculture
1. Improving resource use efficiency.
2. Direct action to conserve, protect and enhance the natural resources.
3. Protect and improve rural livelihood, equity and social wellbeing.
4. Enhanced resilience of people, community and ecosystem.
5. Responsible and effective governance mechanism.
Paradigm/Meaning of sustainable agriculture
The aforementioned things about sustainability in agriculture suggest that it is a broad term. Talking about its broadest level, all the existing definitions have a common approach i.e. is sustainability in agriculture. However, they differ in ways of achieving that goal. Despite several opinions, visions, goals, the paradigm or meaning of sustainable Agriculture is fulfillment of listed points:-
1. Food sufficiency
This perspective of agriculture sustainability is concerned with the overall productivity of regions and their capacity to meet food demands. The population growth pattern is geometric whereas the food increase pattern is arithmetic. So, there is always a food deficit. Besides the projection of doubling of the population by the middle of next century with the estimation of increase in food demand by 2.5 to 3 times than present. So, the food sufficiency perspective of agriculture sustainability suggests to us the ensurement of food supply for the long term.
This paradigm of agricultural sustainability is mostly ecocentric and is concerned more about ecosystems than farm and farm management. It is mostly focused on low input agriculture that reduces the ill effect on nature while conserving the agriculture productivity for a long time.
Eco farming is ecologically based agriculture. It identifies the management approaches and implements them at the farm level intending to minimize the impact on the environment.
This is related to the distribution of food and resources. According to this paradigm, the basic needs of all individuals should be ensured.
Sustainable Agriculture Advantages
Sustainability in agriculture is the way to ensure and maintain agriculture productivity without the depletion of natural resources. It is economically, ecologically and socially adaptable and has many fold advantages in human life. Some of its advantages can be summarised as:
1. Biodiversity Conservation
Healthy soil is one of the prerequisites for agricultural productivity and sustained biodiversity. However, due to the use of excess chemical fertilizers and pesticides soil health is degraded reducing its productivity. We know that soil is the foundation for production as without it we are unable to produce. There are many ways to improve soil health to sustain biodiversity. Feeding soil with animal manure, green manure, crop residue etc may improve soil health and maintain biodiversity. Sustainable agriculture mainly focuses on the use of such types of matter and the reduction of the use of chemicals.
2. Environmental benefits
Sustainable agriculture encompasses the use of renewable energy resources thus reducing environmental hazards. Sustainable agriculture also focuses on crop rotation, thus mitigating the problem of pest outbreaks and hence fewer pesticides are used. In this way, it helps in pollution control. It also focuses on the less waste of food for sustainability. Thus provide a basis for food supplements for an increased population.
3. Reduction in cost of production
Sustainable agriculture reduces production costs in several ways. Sustainable agriculture focuses on minimum tillage or zero tillage by which the cost is reduced. Besides the less use of chemicals and incorporation of green manure, crop residue and organic substances improve the soil health. This reduces the infestation of pests and hence farmers do not have to spend on pesticides.
4. More production
Crop production is improved if one follows the measures of sustainable agriculture. Better soil health due to the use of green manure, crop residue and less use of chemicals improves the production.
5. Better for health
Sustainable agriculture focuses on the use of fewer chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers and more to organic farming. So, people may consume fresh products that are good for their health.
Methods For Sustainable Agriculture
There are certain practices that we can follow to achieve the goal of Sustainable Agriculture. These practices are called methods for sustainable agriculture. Some methods for sustainable agriculture that are in practice are explained below:-
1. Crop rotation
It is the planned sequence of growing different crops in the same field. Growing different crops in the same field reduces the insect and pest incidence. It also helps in better utilization of nutrients.
Permaculture is a framework that is intended in developing sustainable ways of living. This is the practical approach of creating ecologically harmonious, efficient as well as productive systems that can be adopted anywhere. It refers to the sound way of living in our surroundings. It is also viewed as permanent agriculture. By adopting the ethics and principles of permaculture in our daily life, we become responsible consumers. The methods of permaculture may differ with location and available resources. However, the holistic approach behind this remains constant. The permaculture design has the following ethical foundation:
•Biodiversity and environment conservation
•Development of collective well being
•Equitable distribution of resources
•No-till practices, use of biodegradable products, maintenance of solidarity and cohesion among community members are some approaches to permaculture.
3. Integrated Pest Management
This approach involves the use of all techniques in a compatible manner with the environment and aims to maintain pest populations below the economic injury level. It is an economically justified sustainable manner of crop protection. It includes the use of mechanical, physical, biological and chemical measures for pest control.
It is a land management technique in which the trees or shrubs are grown among or around crops or in the pastureland. Integration of trees among the crops diversifies and sustains production for a long duration. Agroforestry is a multifunctional system that provides economic, ecological and environmental benefits.
It is the process of growing different crops or livestock simultaneously. Crops or livestock requiring similar ecological requirements are co-cultured. It is more convenient and beneficial for soil and the environment. Following are the benefits of polyculture:-
•Ensure food demand for increased population
•Better nutrient utilization
•Soil erosion control
6. Mulching and cover cropping
Soil health is important for better production. There are many advantages to mulching the field. Natural weed control, moisture conservation, control of soil erosion, and enhancing the growth of soil microorganisms are some benefits of mulching. Under our topic of What’s Sustainable Agriculture, Let’s move on further topics.
Disadvantages of Sustainable agriculture
Besides its many-fold advantages, sustainable agriculture also has few disadvantages:-
1. Since sustainable agriculture focuses on less use of machines. so, it takes more time for farmers to carry out farm operations.
2. It’s not so easy to increase the soil fertility status without the aid of chemical fertilizers.
3. It is more costly to produce any product sustainably as compared to a non-sustainable manner.
4. Land, labour and capital are not used to their fullest efficiency.
Centre For Sustainable Agriculture
The Centre for sustainable agriculture(CSA) is a non-profit organization that works with marginal farmers intending to make agriculture ecologically and economically sustainable. It is a leading institution working for the transformation of Indian agriculture to be sustainable. It conducts several types of research on agro-ecological farming methods and their impacts as well as assisting farmers and other stakeholders in transitioning to organic agriculture.
Examples Of Sustainable Agriculture
Any farm activities that are done in an eco-friendly way are examples of sustainable agriculture. The blur definition can be made clear by analysing the examples of sustainable Agriculture given below:-
|Integrated Pest management|
|Integrated Nutrient Management|
|Resource Conservation Practices|
|Use Of Biofertilizers|
|Crop Rotation And Crop Residue Incoperation|
|Application Of Green Manure|
|Minimum, Zero And Conservation Tillage|
Some other examples include:- Organic Farming, Multilayer Farming and Permaculture.
Thus – From all this information, we can conclude, Sustainable agriculture is our need. There shouldn’t be the choice of this way agriculture if we really wanna provide your nature and soil as it is for our future generations. Otherwise, This earth is going to suffer forever.