In 2008, the world population reached a staggering 6.7 billion people and at the present rate of growth, we’ll add eighty million more people each year. Sustainable agriculture is important in today’s world if we are to provide food, water and homes to the population of tomorrow.
Sustainable agriculture is more than keeping the farm going, it’s a myriad of symbiotic relationships working to maintain various ecosystems and at the same time must conserve resources, protect the environment, be price competitive, and fit well in its community. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
You can think of it as lining up dominoes and then touching only one of them. As it falls, it affects the next one and so on down the line. If you remove one domino, you interrupt the relationship of the dominoes on each side. This is how ecosystems work; each component has a relationship with and depends on all the others to maintain a balance. Destroy one and you cause all to fail.
The goals of sustainable agriculture are threefold: one is to feed the world’s population today, tow is to insure the next generation will be able to feed itself and three is to protect all natural resources so one and two can be accomplished.
With the plight of thousands starving because of war or drought in the news daily, we have started to rethink how we use the land to produce more food. One practice that shows a lot of promise has been around for some time but never got past the grass roots movement stage.
It’s called Biointensive Farming and involves simple things such as double dug beds, companion planting, composting and raised beds. This method provides food for not only the farmer but for the soil as well, insuring it is a sustainable method.
Why is this considered sustainable? Well for starters, it uses up to 80% less water, 50% to 100% less fertilizer and 99% less energy than commercial farming. Add to that it’s chemical free, uses less land, produces more food per acre and is environmentally safe and you have many reasons for this method of sustainable agriculture.
Another method for achieving sustainable agriculture is Carbon Sequestration, which is keeping the carbon emissions from the farm sequestered in grasses, soil or trees. This can be achieved by leaving some of the crop on the ground when tilling and allowing trees and grasses to grow next to gardens and fields.
Sustainable agriculture provides enough trees, soil and grasses to take in the carbon dioxide produced by food crops and by farm equipment. Many times the trees can convert more carbon dioxide than the farm creates as when a large forest tract is allowed to exist next to farmland that is well managed.
These are only a few of the reasons sustainable agriculture is important in today’s world. The need to feed the starving masses in third world countries and leave a world in which the next generation can live and thrive should be reason enough.
“The Need of the Hour/Sustainable Agriculture” by Christopher Schwebius