compiled by Olusegun Falade
Sustainable agriculture, according to wikipedia.org, refers to farming in sustainable ways, which means meeting society’s food and textile present needs, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability focuses on the business process and practice of a farm in general, rather than a specific agricultural product.
Sustainable agriculture produces safe food with high nutritional value. The quality of food is now more important than ever before. Numerous studies found out that the nutritional content of grains, fruits and vegetables keeps decreasing. Scientists believe that popular high yielding varieties of crops often have poorer capacity of absorbing nutrients from the soil due to their weaker root systems, which can result in the lower nutritional content of the final produce.
There are several methods that employ principles that are sustainable in the long-run, and may be 100 percent organic or at least close. The following are farming methods through which we can achieve a more sustainable agriculture.
Permaculture is a design system that applies principles that are found in nature to the development of human settlements, allowing humanity to live in harmony with the natural world. Permaculture principles and ethics can be applied to almost any area of living, including local economies, energy systems, water supplies, housing systems, and food production.
#2: BIODYNAMIC FARMING
Biodynamics incorporates ecological and holistic growing practices that are based upon the philosophy of “anthroposophy.” Farmers are encouraged to manage their farm as one living organism where cultivated species intertwine and support each other’s health. A great way of doing this is raising animals on a farm so that they replenish soil fertility and enhance plant growth.
#3: HYDROPONICS AND AQUAPONICS
These innovative farming techniques involve the growing of plants without soil, nourishing the plants through specialized nutrients that are added to water.
In hydroponic systems, crops are grown with the roots directly in a mineral solution or with the roots in an inert medium like gravel or perlite.
Aquaponics combines the raising of aquatic animals (such as fish) with the growing of hydroponic crops. In aquaponic systems, the water containing the waste material from the aquaculture fish is used to nourish the hydroponic plants. After the water is used by the plants, the water is then recirculated back into the system to be reused by the fish.
#4: URBAN AGRICULTURE
This involves the growing of plants and raising of animals within and around cities. It is a form of agriculture that is integrated into the urban economic and ecological system as it provides fresh food, employment opportunities, another use for urban waste, while it also helps “green” a city by creating green space and strengthening its resilience to climate change.
Many innovative and sustainable growing techniques are already being used in cities, including backyard farms and gardens, community gardens, rooftop farms, growing crops in urban greenhouses, indoor hydroponic farms, and perhaps even growing food inside urban farm towers someday.
#5: AGROFORESTRY AND FOOD FORESTS
Agroforestry involves the growth of trees and shrubs amongst crops or grazing land. Agroforestry systems can combine both agriculture and forestry practices for long-lasting, productive, and diverse land use when approached sustainably.
In agroforestry systems, trees create a favorable microclimate that maintains favorable temperature and soil humidity, while protecting crops from wind or heavy rain. Trees have another important role. They stabilize soils, minimize nutrient runoff and improve soil structure. This is the reason why agroforestry has become one of the powerful tools of farmers in dry regions with soils susceptible to desertification.
#6: POLYCULTURE AND CROP ROTATION
Polyculture farming involves growing multiple crop species in one area. These species are often complementary to each other and aim at producing greater diversity of products from one plot while fully utilizing available resources. High biodiversity makes the system more resilient to weather fluctuations, promotes balanced diet and applies natural mechanisms to preserve soil fertility.
Crop rotation is based on growing a series of different types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons. The planned rotation may vary from a growing season to a few years or even longer periods. It is one of the most effective agricultural control strategies that is used in preventing the loss of soil fertility.
For more sustainable agricultural methods, please visit https://greentumble.com/10-sustainable-farming-methods-and-practices/.