Sustainable agriculture relates to three methods: the cycle of natural biology, taking advantage of everyday resources found on farms and ranches, and controlling the manner the farmland is utilized to improve the quality of life for local communities, and eventually worldwide. Although presently sustainable agriculture is mainly practiced with great success on smaller farms linking to larger producers and ranches, the goal is to someday extend the practice to help the environment, population, and the economy achieve and maintain strength worldwide.
Sustainable agriculture is a technique used in farming and ranching to increase or maintain the profits earned. Sustainable agriculture helps communities balance a stable environment for crops and livestock. Ranchers who raise livestock and farmers who grow the food we eat work with the natural ecological landscape to ensure the land is irrigated, rotated, and properly cultivated. This is important to maintain natural nutrient’s in the soil and keep vegetation and livestock growing healthy.
Sustainable agriculture has become popular over the past twenty years as people have become more conscious of health issues and want organic fruits and vegetables, as well as meats free of injected hormones or fed a diet that might be unnatural to livestock. Early in the group development of farmers and ranchers practicing sustainable agriculture, most of their customers were from within the co-op itself. Gradually, others noticed their practices, and farmers began selling their goods at roadside stands which eventually evolved into the local Farmers Markets we see today.
In third world countries especially, sustainable agriculture makes it possible for the poorest to work, trade, and eat healthy. Teaching underdeveloped countries how to manage their own and grow their own livestock or crops ensures the population good food, the ability to trade goods, and develop and care for their land properly. By teaching people respect for the land they need to survive in areas such as keeping the land irrigated, and how to properly rotate crops and grow them free of pesticides, they are empowered and educated. This is one of the best ways to help people be productive and self-sufficient.
Opponents of sustainable agriculture suggest teaching and utilizing the techniques of rotating crops, proper irrigation, and organically raised fruits, vegetables, and livestock are not feasible in the huge global market place. Some even argue edibles will not remain safe for consumption without the use of pesticides, growth hormones, and other growing agents. On the other side of the coin scientists insist that when properly carried out sustainable agriculture is less expensive and more efficient then the modern norm of working farms and ranches.
United States Department of Agriculture, (July, 17, 2007),
Sustainable Agriculture. Retrieved January 29, 2009 from: