Alternative Sustainable Agriculture Methods
Published on: 05.06.2020
It’s time for nature, isn’t just a motto that calls for action for ecosystem and biodiversity protection on World Environment Day. It is a reminder that nature is on the verge of a breakdown if we don’t reverse biodiversity loss and contribute to the implementation and achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Restoring nature and biodiversity is essential for habitats and ecosystems and for turning the tide of climate change. Progress in achieving these goals can be made by identifying what is pushing nature and biodiversity to the brink and what can we change to stop further damage.
The answer is simple. Global unsustainable food systems and our consumption behavior have created a linear cycle that produces more and pollutes more.
Moreover, the way how our food is grown has been a major contributor to environmental degradation and biodiversity loss.
Agriculture and environmental degradation
Considering the pace of the world’s population growth over 50 percent more food will be needed to feed people in 2050. This has to be done without using more land for agriculture. Currently, about 50 percent of the world’s vegetated land is used for agriculture. At the same time, this would help to lower emissions by 67 percent in 2050 compared to emissions in 2010. To achieve all this, a combination of alternative agriculture methods, innovations, and education for sustainable development will be needed.
Such methods can address both food security issues and the side effects of agriculture on the environment. Experts highlight the importance of changing consumer behaviors and exploring methods that provide both resilience and persistence. This means that those systems should be able to buffer shocks and to last over a longer period of time.
Sustainable agriculture is not a modern concept. Such ideas date back to centuries ago, but somehow they were forgotten as farming technology started evolving.
The environmental impacts of modern agriculture include contamination of water, natural resources, and food by pesticides, groundwater and ozone depletion, loss of traditional agricultural breeds and landscape
On the other hand, the purpose of alternative farming techniques includes environment and natural resources protection, energy conservation, increased productivity, improved food quality and safety, create feasible socio-economic infrastructure for farms and farmers in rural communities.
Types of alternative agriculture methods
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines organic agriculture as “a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It emphasizes the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using, where possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfill any specific function within the system.”
This technique is based on the preservation of soil fertility and rejects the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. According to FAO, organic agriculture is driven by three different factors
Consumer or market-driven organic agriculture
Service-driven organic agriculture
Farmer-driven organic agriculture
This practice is among the oldest known used by farmers to enrich the soil naturally and minimize the presence of pests and weeds. Different crops are grown in specific times during the years to offer maximum yield while regenerating soil properties. Crops are divided into three different types based on their purpose. First, there are the crops for sale or personal consumption. The second type serves to improve and maintain soil fertility while the third type of crop does the same but with minimal maintenance. The last can be used as a grazing crop. One example could be Potato – legumes – brassicas – clover.
Integrated pest management
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem approach to crop production and protection that combines different management strategies and practices to grow healthy crops and minimize the use of pesticides.
IPM addresses ecosystem health-related issues as well as farmers’ concern over increased extents of pesticides to maintain pests under control. IPM is being mainstreamed in FAO activities involving crop production and protection and the IPM program comprises regional projects in Asia, Near East, and West Africa.
What are some sustainable agriculture practices still present in your region or community?
Do you think you can promote sustainable models and methods to meet food needs while preserving the environment?
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