Sustainable agriculture is becoming increasingly popular. Put simply, it is the production and use of plant and animal products in a way that protects the environment, communities, public health, and animal welfare. Practising sustainable agriculture helps to promote economic stability and enables farmers to better their food production and preservation techniques.
Agriculture is the world’s biggest employer, with over 40% of the world’s population practising it. If given a choice, most people would prefer consuming natural, chemical-free products to foods that have been sprayed with chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Many agricultural jobs use sustainable farming practices, which differ from industrial agriculture considerably.
How to promote sustainable agriculture
Many industrial, agricultural jobs and have gotten a bad rep due to the many adverse effects they have on plants, animals, and the environment. Here are a few sustainable agricultural methods that you can use on your farm.
• Crop rotation – This is a critical sustainable agriculture technique that you can use to tackle various agricultural problems. It helps to tackle pest problems since most pests prefer specific crops. Crop rotation helps to break the reproduction cycles of pests. Thus, it denies them a steady food supply.
Also, it enables farmers to plant certain crops that replenish plant nutrients and reduce the use of chemical fertilisers.
• Cover crops – planting crops in your field without leaving it barren can cause unintended consequences like soil erosion, weed growth, and even lower soil quality. However, planting cover crops can prevent such soil issues from occurring. Cover crops also reduce the use of chemicals like fertilisers.
• Natural pest predators – the best way of maintaining effective control over pests is by using pest predators like birds and other animals. Pest predators are the better option for managing pests compared to factory manufactured pesticides.
• Soil enrichment – healthy soil is always teeming with life and is a critical component of agricultural ecosystems. Still, farmers can kill it by overusing chemicals like pesticides. Consequently, good soil will increase yields and create even more robust crops.
• Bio intensive integrated pest management – this approach relies heavily on biological farming methods as opposed to chemical solutions. Once you’ve identified a pest problem, IPM uses chemical solutions as a last resort.
Benefits of sustainable agriculture
1. Public health safety
As already mentioned, sustainable agriculture avoids the use of hazardous pesticides and fertilisers. Farmers can then produce vegetables, fruits, and crops that are safer to consume. Through proper management of farm waste, sustainable farmers can now protect product consumers from exposure to toxins, pathogens, and other hazardous pollutants.
2. Stabilised food supply
Sustainable agriculture encourages decentralisation of farms and limits financial implications on farmers to a small percentage of the agriculture industry. The practice can save farmers a lot of money and conserve the environment too. Farmers don’t have to rely on single agricultural corporations whose objectives can impact a vast portion of farmers.
3. Promotes environmental conservation
Sustainable agriculture also helps to replenish the land and other natural resources like air and water. The environment plays a critical role in sustaining life. In turn, everyone must look after it so that future generations enjoy the same benefits. Environmental replenishment ensures that future generations aren’t deprived of their needs.
4. Prevents pollution
Although most industrial fertilisers encourage plant growth, some lead to polluted runoff water and chemicals that may ruin the natural environment. Sustainable agriculture solves most of these farm-related issues by using natural fertilisers and crop rotation. This process may also involve a little bit of pollution, which you can combine with water reclamation and recycling efforts to eliminate the problem.
5. Save energy
Beside embracing less energy-intensive agricultural production forms, sustainable agriculture uses smart farming systems that are more efficient and productive with each passing year. Sustainable agriculture also eliminates the use of fossil fuels. This could reduce the greenhouse emissions that are produced in the agricultural sector dramatically.
In contrast, unsustainable agricultural methods are very energy-intensive and very reliant on fossil fuels for the production and transport of farm produce. In fact, the conventional industry is a massive producer of greenhouse gases.
6. Beneficial to animals
Sustainable agriculture is also known for having animals better cared for, treated humanely, and with respect. As a result, farm animals develop naturally by catering to natural behaviours such as grazing, nibbling, and pecking. Sustainable farmers implement livestock husbandry practices aimed at protecting animal health.
7. Economically beneficial
Sustainable farmers and ranchers receive a fair wage in exchange for using sustainable farming methods. This reduces the farmer’s reliance on government subsidies and strengthens rural commodities. Most organic farms typically use about 2 times less labour compared to factory farms. Yet these organic farms yield more than 10 times the profit, which makes it a good business venture.
8. Protects and conserve water
Most sustainable farming systems use methods that conserve water through drip irrigation, mulching, plant crops that don’t need as much water, etc. Consequently, sustainable farm jobs employ techniques aimed at protecting water bodies from pollution. Sustainable farmers do this by using contour farming and filter strips near water bodies.
In contrast, unsustainable agricultural farming requires several gallons of water for production. Also, the crops in such systems are usually vulnerable to drought.
Sustainable farms produce a biodiverse variety of plants and animals. Crop rotations, for instance, result in soil enrichment, prevent pest outbreaks, and diseases.
On the contrary, industrial agriculture relies more on monoculture, which involves planting fields of a single crop breed. However, this is a dangerous practice, as relying on a single breed can cause plants to become susceptible to diseases that can spread quickly from one plant to another. A single disease can wipe out your entire farm and cause significant losses.
Sustainable farming is good for everyone, the planet, and is very profitable. The human population is growing at an alarming rate, and with it, pollution and other hazards. So much so, that if we do not act now and develop more sustainable food production and conservation methods, the world may face a food crisis. Everyone can play a part in healing the planet by using more sustainable ways of growing food. We all have a role to play. The only challenge is making people care and strive to make a difference.
If you're looking for work in the agricultural sector, Agricultural Recruitment Specialists can help you find the right niche in the UK, Europe and beyond. We can assist in finding which doors are open for you with your specific background and even advice on what you could do to improve your prospects.
Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are worldwide recruitment experts in agricultural, food, farming and rural recruitment and have a variety of executive and management positions available within agriculture, horticulture and the food and rural sectors throughout the UK and the rest of the world. To find out more about our agricultural job vacancies and discuss your future career, contact our team of agricultural recruitment professionals. You can visit our website here: www.agriRS.co.uk or call our team on: 01905 345 155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk