Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
IPM remains the only holistic strategy to our plants protection. The integration involves mechanical, cultural and biological and chemical control measures and pest are much less likely to survive in all this different methods reducing their populations. These processes enhance increase yields and sustainability, while reducing input costs.
To implement the integration we simply choose plants variety that are insect and disease tolerant, timing planting and choosing plants that are adapted to the site environment conditions. Mechanical management involves handpicking, using traps like light and pheromone, water spraying and pruning the affected areas. Biological management reduces pest population by using predators and parasites that ordinary occur in nature. They are termed as beneficial insects as they help to kill off and consume some other harmful insects like aphids. For example, we have predatory mites, lady beetles and lacewings. If the problem persist after other management strategies have been implemented, chemical options may be considered as a last resort.
Non-toxic pest control in farming would be of benefits from a better understanding of the functioning and biodiversity of the ecosystem and the integral role of all living things.
Farmers all over the world have been relying on intensive production methods and synthetic pesticide inputs to increase the productivity. No doubt, these chemical-based agricultural practices substantially raised crop yield. However, intensive use of agrochemicals have accord remarkably to the environmental pollution and negatively affected human and animal health.
A worldwide distress for these problems has inspired researchers, administrators, and farmers to seek alternatives to chemical-based, traditional agriculture. One such product is effective microorganisms which are a diverse culture of beneficial and naturally occurring microorganisms, such as species of photosynthetic bacteria, lactobacilli, yeasts, and Actinomycetes. These beneficial microorganisms improve crop growth and yield by increasing photosynthesis, producing bioactive substances such as hormones and enzymes, controlling soil diseases, and accelerating decomposition of organic matters in the soil. Experiments conducted on various agricultural crops in different parts of the world have shown good prospects for the practical application of these beneficial microorganisms in improving crop yield and soil fertility. Application of beneficial microorganisms generally improves soil physical and chemical properties and favors the growth and efficiency of symbiotic microorganisms such as nitrogen fixing, rhizobia and fungi.
Integrated use of organic matter plus beneficial microorganisms with half-mineral NPK can yield equivalent to that of full-recommended NPK fertilizers dose. Beneficial microorganisms can also be used for wastewater treatment, pest and disease management, and to reduce the abiotic stresses on crop growth and yield.
Better Water Management
The first step in water management is selection of the right crops. One must choose the local crops, as they are more adaptable to the weather conditions of the region. Crops that do not need too much water must be chosen for dry areas. Irrigation systems need to be well planned or they lead to other issues like river drying up, dry land and soil degradation. One can also build rainwater-harvesting systems to reserve rainwater and use them during drought season.
Farmers can grow varieties of the same crop yielding substantial differences among the plants. Although planting numerous plant species is a great sustainable farming method, it is not an option for commercial farmers with a market for specific crops. Therefore, instead of substituting their main crop, a farmer can plant diverse varieties of the same plant. Farming different varieties make the crop stronger since they are different in genes. Crop diversity protects the crops from pests and diseases, which is suitable for a specific crop variety.
Planting Cover Crops
Planting cover crops like clovers during the off-season times when the farm is left bare can be advantageous. Cover crops build and protect the health of the soil by replenishing the soil nutrients, preventing soil erosion and inhibits the growth of weeds, which reduces the need for any herbicides in future.
Benefits of Sustainable Agriculture
As much as we want to maximize the profits from our farms, over-exploiting the farm has affected our future ability to produce more year by year. Therefore investing in sustainable farming methods can assist us to increase our productivity without over-exploiting the farm. Sustainable agriculture aims at providing food for this generation and ensure that the coming generation will enjoy similar advantages from the environment.
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