Over the years, agriculture has succeeded in production, but failing miserably in sustainability. Our farms produce huge quantities of food, fuel and fiber but all this success comes at the expense of public health, long-term productivity and the environment. This is done largely by breeding crop varieties with chemical fertilizers and powerful pesticides and herbicides. As we intensified agriculture, we neglected the environmental impacts that led to soil health degradation, fertilizer runoff producing aquatic dead zones and climate change.
It wasn’t until recent times that science began to realize that mass chemical application over the extended period created more challenges specifically environmental concerns leading to low productivity. Today our ability to produce more food year after year is largely stagnating and is not keeping pace with the rising demand. Clearly, innovations are needed to change the way we grow food and make it sustainable socially, economically and environmentally.
The primary goal of sustainable farming is to meet our food needs and textiles without compromising the capability of the future generation to provide for their needs. A sustainable agriculture focuses on promoting the economy through increased productivity while protecting the environment and it must deal fairly with all the workers. The sustainable farming system uses innovative science-based practices to maximize productivity while reducing any environmental destruction.
Environmental sustainability means providing reliable natural systems, which the farm needs for increased production throughout the year like promoting biodiversity, minimizing pollution, managing water, and building and maintaining a healthy soil. With agroecological systems, environmental sustainability and increased productivity are possible.
Agroecology is the science of running our farms as an ecosystem. Agroecology is farming that “centers on food production that makes the best use of nature’s goods and services while not damaging these resources.” Farming thrives when it works with local ecosystems, for example, improving soil and plant quality through available biomass and biodiversity, rather than battling nature with chemical inputs. By not working against nature, farmers managing their farms using various agroecological principles can protect the ecosystem without reducing profitability. Agroecology is recognized as both a mitigation and adaptation strategy for climate change. Consumers are increasingly demanding healthier food and a closer connection to food producers.
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