The global population relies upon farmers to put food on the table and cultivate natural materials. Historically, many agricultural methods were not beneficial for the land over time. Industrial farming, in particular, is known for such issues. The next generation of farmers is looking to the future with sustainable agriculture methods. Some eco-conscious farming techniques have been around for centuries, while others are stunning innovations. Learn about the following sustainable agriculture methods and think about how you can support the environment.
1. Improved Water Management
Water is necessary for life, and many regions throughout the world have to conserve it as a limited resource. Conserving water in agricultural practices is a careful balance of providing crops with hydration and eliminating waste. Some farmers employ precision irrigation systems to water their crops directly and at scheduled times. Each different crop gets exactly what it needs, no more and no less.
2. Planting Heirloom Varieties
Industrial food farms have overproduced a handful of species of popular fruits and vegetables that are in demand at grocery stores. This threatens the survival of less common heirloom varieties. Local farmers are mindfully planting these uncommon varieties that are suited to particular climates and soil. This, in turn, leads to greater genetic variation in plant species and helps to ensure that food can be reliably produced.
3. Biodynamic Farming
This method incorporates composting and farm animal manure as fertilizer. Biodynamic farming encourages the cultivation of fertile soil that produces healthier crops. The entire farm operation works together in a mutually supportive manner.
Regions with typically dry soil are prime candidates for agroforestry techniques. Farmers plant trees and shrubs around grazing fields and crops. This helps to prevent desertification and leads to more productive land as part of a long-term diversification plan.
5. Natural Pest Deterrents
Chemical pesticides are one of the biggest agricultural enemies of the environment. They have negative impacts on water supplies, deplete the soil, and can impact the health of farm workers. Natural pest deterrents are a holistically healthier alternative. Farmers foster the presence of small animals, like birds, that are known predators of common farm pests.
6. Soil Enrichment
Soil enrichment is all about cultivating optimal soil conditions before, during, and after growing seasons. Farmers use natural methods to infuse the soil with oils and nutrients that benefit their chosen crops. In addition to animal manure and mulch, farmers spread other plant materials across their fields.
7. Integrated Pest Management
Biological processes replace harsh artificial chemicals in integrated pest management methods. Animals are favored over chemical interventions, although careful chemical use is a final option for prolonged issues. Crop rotation is also a factor that prevents pests and weeds from taking root. This strategy is a multi-pronged approach to protecting valuable crops.
8. Cover Crops
If farmers wish to avoid chemical pesticides and fertilizers, they can also fill their fields with cover crops like oats and clover. These crops boost the soil quality, deter weed growth, and fight against potential soil erosion. Cover crops can be planted in fields to let the environment recover from more intensive crops.
This food production method seeks to recreate how crops would grow in nature, without significant farm equipment and structures. Perennial plants are favored with an eye toward efficiency and reduced reliance on precious resources. Permaculture creates an ecosystem where each plant serves a function that supports years of crop production.
10. Crop Rotation and Polyculture
Crop rotation is one of the oldest and most popular sustainable agricultural methods. Farmers change the crops that are planted in each field throughout the seasons so that the soil can be replenished and enriched. Polyculture refers to growing multiple plant species in one area. The crops in such areas are chosen strategically to support each other without encroaching on root systems or competing for nutrients.
The efforts of today’s young farmers to preserve and improve sustainable agriculture methods are essential for the future of food production.