The application of the best alternative agriculture systems is proving to be quite beneficial to farmers and the rest of the world at large. For many years, tons of food products have been produced through the traditional industrial agricultural system. This is a system that is essentially dominated by massive farms on which the same crops are grown on a year in year out basis. Enormous amounts of both fertilizers and pesticides are used in such settings. Unfortunately, this leads to the destruction and deterioration of the state of the soil, air, water, as well as climate.
The thing about the industrial agricultural system is that it is not built to last. As much as it is responsible for the full stomachs in different parts of the world, it is also the cause of the degradation of the natural resources that future generations will depend on.
A growing number of scientists and innovative farmers have, however, taken a different path. They have decided to follow the more sustainable approach that is friendly environmental, socially, and economically.
Sustainable farming approaches have are generally more accommodating, in that they can be applied on farms of all sizes, and can be used in the production of a diverse range of foods. These approaches are also suited to the local conditions of a given area, and they do not divert from the expectations of the regional markets.
These are the approaches with which you can expect the application of science-backed principles that are aimed at optimizing the production of food while reducing the damage to the environment.
The supporters of industrial agriculture push the notion that the destruction of nature is the price that has to be paid if people are to remain well-fed. Fortunately enough, sustainable agriculture has proven to be the solid alternative to retrogressive practices- it enhances profitability and it can be depended upon to meet our feeding needs for many years.
We have so far established that sustainable agriculture is the way to go. When it comes to agriculture, sustainability is quite a complex idea that has various facets, that include:
- Economic – sustainable farms should be nothing short of profitable businesses that positively contribute to the environment.
- Social –The workers in these farms should be dealt with fairly, and create a mutually beneficial relationship with those in the communities living around them.
- Environment- this points to the proper management of the natural systems, as well as the resources that those farms depend on.
Catering to the environmental aspect involves the following activities:
- The building and maintenance of healthy soil
- The prudent management of water
- The minimization of air, water, and climate pollution
- The promotion of biodiversity
Scientists have already come up with a new field of research that is aimed at seeing to it that the above goals are achieved. This field is referred to as agroecology.
Agroecology is defined as the science of the management of farms as ecosystems. The underlying notion here is that we get to work with nature, and not against it. The application of agroecological principles is aimed at achieving exactly this!
Sustainable agricultural practices
So far, scientists and innovative farmers have managed to define the following sustainable farming practices:
The application of integrated pest management practices
Scientists have come up with new ways to mechanically and biologically control pests. The systematic application of these approaches has helped with keeping the pests under control while doing away with the use of chemical pesticides.
Crop rotation and diversification
Planting a variety of crops has proven to be quite beneficial. Scientists have established that it is one of the most reliable approaches to maintaining healthier soil as well as controlling pests. Crop diversity basically points to intercropping and the adoption of complex multi-year crop rotations.
The planting of beneficial cover crops
Farmers have established that the planting of cover crops such a clover is essential during off-season times. In these times, the soils if left bare is subject to a number of destructive factors. It is the use of cover crops that sees to it that the soil remains healthy with the replenishment of soil nutrients, the reduction of weeds, as well as the reduction of the use of herbicides.
The significant reduction (and elimination of tillage)
In the industrial agriculture setting, tillage is adopted in the preparation of the fields for planting and the prevention of weed problems, but it can also lead to the loss of soil. Sustainable agriculture adopts practices that involve the insertion of seeds directly into the soil, without having to disturb it. This can reduce erosion as it improves the health of the soil.
The integration of the production of crops and livestock
Industrial agriculture is characterized by the separation of plants and animals in separate spaces. This entails keeping the animals away from the areas in which their food is available in plenty, and the plants away from the plentiful manure.
Evidence presented so far has proven that the smart integration of both crops and animals is a perfect recipe for the creation of farms that are more efficient and more profitable.
The adoption of agroforestry practices
The establishment of new farms does not have to involve the destruction of natural vegetation and trees. This is the reason why the new-age farmers are mixing the growing of trees with their operations. These farmers have established that the trees can provide shade to the plants as they also protect animals and the sources of water. They also have the potential to provide additional income.
The management of the surrounding systems as well as the landscapes
Sustainable farms are usually developed with the notion that the uncultivated and less cultivated areas are integral to the existence of the farm. They are actually seen as being very valuable in that they help with the control of soil erosion, the reduction of the runoff of nutrients, as well as supporting the life of the pollinators.
As we gradually adopt sustainable measures in the agriculture industry, it is important to also have a look at how those measures will affect us directly. Farmers and investors are, for instance, more interested in the implementation of strategies that directly affect the nature of their revenues. If you are such a farmer or investor, you can get started by understanding the state of the industry, as well as what we can expect within this decade.
There you go with the best alternative agriculture systems! I hope that this article was enlightening and that you are now well-placed to share a thing or two with your colleagues with regards to the subject matter. If you have any questions with regards to the same topic, reach out to me by dropping them in the comments section.
I wish you well,
Eric, Investor and Team Member at Gold Retired!