farmers are faced with one very essential question — how can one increase productivity on farmland while causing the least negative environmental impact in the process?
It’s inevitable that the decisions you make and the methods you choose to implement will significantly affect the final crop output. The key to success, however, lies in finding a balance between productivity and sustainability.
Sustainable and resilient agriculture is the cultivation practice of the future. Why settle for wastefulness and less-than-ideal conditions when your farm could boast strong and environmentally-friendly practices instead?
You may know that sustainable agricultural standards form the foundation for the world’s newest and more productive farming practices, but do you know exactly how to achieve them? Growing crops with maximum efficiency and environmental friendliness in mind is not only obtainable, but it’s also practical when adhering to the following methods.
Use water — but never in excess
Did you know that while a large percentage of the Earth consists of water, only about 0.3 percent of this resource is usable? Because a large portion of the agricultural sector relies on the use of water during the process of growing fruit, vegetables and other plants, it’s essential to use this valuable resource wisely.
If you live in an area that experiences high rainfall totals, you’re fortunately able to use this natural occurrence to your advantage. You might be able to harvest rainwater — which is simply catching the water when it falls and using it for other purposes.
A farmer who catches rainwater can lessen their environmental impact by significantly reducing their need for water from reservoirs and other sources. Every farm needs water to grow — but it should still be used carefully.
Emphasize soil health
It’s crucial to enhance your natural resources while minimizing the energy required to do so. One of the best ways to make the most out of your efforts is ensuring the soil and fertilizer you use is always up to the job at hand.
The healthiness of crops and plants is often contingent upon the quality of the soil they grow in. Much in the same way that humans need vitamins and other nutrients to thrive, plants and wildlife do, too.
Organic compost is the best for the environment and adds valuable nutrients and beneficial organisms to the soil in the process. It’s essential to test the soil regularly to ensure the nutrient levels are at the necessary totals for optimal crop and plant growth.
Using agroforestry practices for increased productivity
Trees are one of Earth’s greatest gifts. They provide shelter from the sun, add a touch of aesthetic beauty to the natural world and absorb potentially harmful gasses out of the atmosphere.
Any farm can benefit from adopting agroforestry systems that enhance their overall daily operations through the natural benefits of trees. The extensive branches and leaves offer shade for crops which can prevent them from burning or dying prematurely. Animals and livestock can also benefit from the added protection trees provide, too.
Growing just one type of plant or crop leaves a farm at considerably higher risk of pest issues or having unhealthy soil — which makes promoting biodiversity one of top ways to build a resilient and sustainable farm.
Intercropping is one way to do this, and it involves planting more than one single crop type in a given field. When a different types of plants are grown close to one another, they share valuable resources such as nitrogen, reduce the need for fertilizer application and help eliminate weed growth.
Seek outside guidance
Sometimes, the best way to improve your farming practices is to enlist the help of an outside source. The Resilience Design (RD) in Smallholder Farming Systems Approach assists farmers in understanding the agricultural systems that work best within their agroecosystem to improve their overall level of resilience and sustainability.
Finding improved practices is often a set of helping hands away. Systems such as the Resilience Design aid farmers by finding a program that uses the surrounding natural area in an improved and less wasteful way.
Sustainable and resilient agriculture is the way of the future. With just a little knowledge and effort, farmers, environmentalists and the rest of the planet can work together to improve the surrounding environment while producing the foods people need to live, too.
This is a guest post written by Kate Harveston.
Kate Harveston is a freelance writer and blogger. Her writing focuses on politics and the environment, with a particular emphasis on social change. You can follow her writing by visiting her blog, Only Slightly Biased.