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Sustainable agriculture is
farming Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors suc ...

farming
in
sustainable Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the 21st century The 21st (twenty-first) century is the current century in the '' Anno Domini'' era or Common Era, in accordance with the ...

sustainable
ways meeting society's present food and textile needs, without compromising the ability for current or future generations to meet their needs. It can be based on an understanding of
ecosystem services Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy . Such ecosystems include, for example, s, s, s and s. These ecosystems, functioning in healthy relationship, offer such things ...
. There are many methods to increase the sustainability of agriculture. When developing agriculture within
sustainable food systemsA sustainable food system is a type of food system that provides healthy food to people and creates sustainable environmental, economic and social systems that surround food. Sustainable food systems start with the development of sustainable agric ...
, it is important to develop flexible business process and farming practices. Agriculture has an enormous environmental footprint, playing a significant role in causing
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
,
water scarcity Water scarcity (water stress or water crisis) is the lack of fresh water resources to meet the standard water demand. Humanity is facing a water crisis, due to unequal distribution (exacerbated by climate change Climate change inclu ...

water scarcity
,
water pollution Water pollution (or aquatic pollution) is the contamination of water bodies ( Lysefjord) in Norway Norway ( nb, ; nn, ; se, Norga; smj, Vuodna; sma, Nöörje), officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic countries, Nordic c ...

water pollution
,
land degradation Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or disturbance to the land perceived to be deleterious or u ...
,
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...

deforestation
and other processes; it is simultaneously causing environmental changes and being impacted by these changes. Sustainable agriculture consists of environment friendly methods of farming that allow the production of crops or livestock without damage to human or natural systems. It involves preventing adverse effects to soil, water, biodiversity, surrounding or downstream resources—as well as to those working or living on the farm or in neighboring areas. Elements of sustainable agriculture can include
permaculture Permaculture is an approach to land management and settlement design that adopts arrangements observed in flourishing natural ecosystems. It includes a set of design principles derived using Systems theory, whole systems thinking. It applies t ...
,
agroforestry Agroforestry is a land use Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment or wilderness Wilderness or wildlands (usually in the plural), are natural environments on Earth that have not been significantly modified ...

agroforestry
,
mixed farming Mixed is the past tense of ''mix''. Mixed may refer to: * Mixed (United Kingdom ethnicity category) Mixed is an ethnicity category that has been used by the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commo ...
, multiple cropping, and
crop rotation Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crop A crop is a plant that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. Crops may refer either to the harvested parts or to the harvest in a more r ...
. Developing sustainable food systems contributes to the sustainability of the human population. For example, one of the best ways to mitigate climate change is to create sustainable food systems based on sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture provides a potential solution to enable agricultural systems to feed a growing population within the changing environmental conditions. Numerous
sustainability standards and certification Sustainability standards and certifications are voluntary guidelines used by producers, manufacturers, traders, retailers, and service providers to demonstrate their commitment to good environmental, social, ethical, and food safety practices. Ther ...
systems exist, including
organic certification 250px, Organic vegetables at a farmers' market in Argentina Organic certification is a certification Certification is the formal attestation or confirmation of certain characteristics of an object, person, or organization. This confirmation i ...
,
Rainforest Alliance The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) based in New York City and Amsterdam, with operations in more than 60 countries. It was founded in 1987 by Daniel Katz (environmental activist), Daniel Katz, an Americ ...
,
Fair Trade Fair trade is an arrangement designed to help producers in growing countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships. Members of the fair trade movement add the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as improved social ...
,
UTZ Certified UTZ, formerly called UTZ Certified, is a program and a label for sustainable farming. The UTZ label is featured on more than 10,000 product packages in over 116 countries. In 2014, UTZ was reported to be the largest program for sustainable farmin ...

UTZ Certified
, GlobalGAP, Bird Friendly, and the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C).


Definition

In the
National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 The United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington ...
, the term "sustainable agriculture" is defined as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term: * satisfy human food and fiber needs * enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends * make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls * sustain the economic viability of farm operations * enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole. The British scholar Jules Pretty has stated several key principles associated with sustainability in agriculture: # The incorporation of biological and ecological processes such as
nutrient cycling A nutrient cycle (or ecological recycling) is the movement and exchange of organic Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), organ Chemistry * Org ...

nutrient cycling
,
soil regeneration Soil regeneration, as a particular form of ecological regeneration within the field of restoration ecology, is creating new soil and rejuvenating soil health by: minimizing the loss of topsoil, retaining more carbon than is depleted, boosting biodiv ...
, and
nitrogen fixation Nitrogen fixation is a chemical process by which molecular (), with a strong triple , in the is converted into () or related nitrogenous compounds, typically in soil or aquatic systems but also . Atmospheric nitrogen is molecular , a relativel ...
into agricultural and food production practices. # Using decreased amounts of non-renewable and unsustainable inputs, particularly environmentally harmful ones. # Using the expertise of farmers to both productively work the land as well as to promote the self-reliance and self-sufficiency of farmers. # Solving agricultural and natural resource problems through the cooperation and collaboration of people with different skills. The problems tackled include pest management and
irrigation Irrigation is the agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in seden ...

irrigation
. It "considers long-term as well as short-term economics because sustainability is readily defined as forever, that is, agricultural environments that are designed to promote endless regeneration". It balances the need for resource conservation with the needs of
farmer A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exe ...

farmer
s pursuing their
livelihood A person's livelihood (derived from ''life-lode'', "way of life"; cf. OG ''lib-leit'') refers to their "means of securing the basic necessities (food, water, shelter and clothing) of life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical ...

livelihood
. It is considered to be
reconciliation ecology Reconciliation ecology is the branch of ecology which studies ways to encourage biodiversity in Human ecosystem, human-dominated ecosystems. Michael Rosenzweig first articulated the concept in his book ''Win-Win Ecology'', based on the theory that ...
, accommodating biodiversity within human landscapes.


Different viewpoints

There is a debate on the definition of sustainability regarding agriculture. The definition could be characterized by two different approaches: an ecocentric approach and a technocentric approach. The ecocentric approach emphasizes no- or low-growth levels of human development, and focuses on
organic Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), organ Chemistry * Organic matter, matter that has come from a once-living organism, is capable of decay or ...
and biodynamic farming techniques with the goal of changing consumption patterns, and resource allocation and usage. The technocentric approach argues that
sustainability Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for Earth's biosphere and human civilization to co-exist. For many, sustainability is ...

sustainability
can be attained through a variety of strategies, from the view that state-led modification of the industrial system like conservation-oriented farming systems should be implemented, to the argument that
biotechnology Biotechnology is a broad area of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Phy ...

biotechnology
is the best way to meet the increasing demand for food. One can look at the topic of sustainable agriculture through two different lenses: multifunctional agriculture and
ecosystem services Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy . Such ecosystems include, for example, s, s, s and s. These ecosystems, functioning in healthy relationship, offer such things ...
. Both of approaches are similar, but look at the function of agriculture differently. Those that employ the multifunctional agriculture philosophy focus on farm-centered approaches, and define function as being the outputs of agricultural activity. The central argument of multifunctionality is that agriculture is a multifunctional enterprise with other functions aside from the production of food and fiber. These functions include renewable resource management, landscape conservation and biodiversity. The ecosystem service-centered approach posits that individuals and society as a whole receive benefits from
ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syst ...

ecosystem
s, which are called "ecosystem services". In sustainable agriculture, the services that ecosystems provide include
pollination Pollination is the transfer of pollen Pollen is a powdery substance consisting of pollen grains which are Sporophyte, microsporophytes of spermatophyta, seed plants, which produce male gametes (sperm cells). Pollen grains have a hard coat ...

pollination
,
soil formation Pedogenesis (from the Greek ''pedo''-, or ''pedon'', meaning 'soil, earth,' and ''genesis'', meaning 'origin, birth') (also termed soil development, soil evolution, soil formation, and soil genesis) is the process of soil formation as regulated b ...
, and
nutrient cycling A nutrient cycle (or ecological recycling) is the movement and exchange of organic Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), organ Chemistry * Org ...

nutrient cycling
, all of which are necessary functions for the production of food. It is also claimed sustainable agriculture is best considered as an ecosystem approach to agriculture, called
agroecology Agroecology (a-grō-ē-ˈkä-lə-jē) is an applied science Applied science is the use of the scientific method The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development ...
.


Ethics

Most agricultural professionals agree that there is a "moral obligation to pursue goal sustainability." The major debate comes from what system will provide a path to that goal because if an unsustainable method is used on a large scale it will have a massive negative effect on the environment and human population.


Factors affecting sustainability

Practices that can cause long-term damage to
soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, comp ...

soil
include excessive
tillingTilling can mean: * Tillage Tillage is the agricultural preparation of soil by mechanical agitation of various types, such as digging, stirring, and overturning. Examples of human-powered tilling methods using hand tools include shoveling, ...
of the soil (leading to
erosion In earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific ...

erosion
) and
irrigation Irrigation is the agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in seden ...

irrigation
without adequate drainage (leading to salinization). The most important factors for a farming site are
climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a la ...

climate
, soil,
nutrient A nutrient is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition * Matter, anything that has mass and t ...
s and
water resources Water resources are natural resources of water that are potentially useful as a source of water supply. 97% of the water on the Earth is salt water and only three percent is fresh water; slightly over two thirds of this is frozen in glaciers a ...
. Of the four, water and
soil conservation Soil conservation is the prevention of loss of the top most layer of the soil from erosion In , erosion is the action of surface processes (such as or ) that removes , , or dissolved material from one location on the , and then it to anoth ...
are the most amenable to human intervention. When farmers grow and harvest crops, they remove some nutrients from the soil. Without replenishment, the land suffers from
nutrient depletionNutrient depletion is a form of resource depletion Resource depletion is the consumption of a resource faster than it can be replenished. Natural resources are commonly divided between renewable resource File:Global Vegetation.jpg, Global veg ...
and becomes either unusable or suffers from reduced yields. Sustainable agriculture depends on replenishing the soil while minimizing the use or need of non-renewable resources, such as
natural gas Natural gas (also called fossil gas; sometimes just gas) is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting of methane and commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxid ...

natural gas
or mineral ores. A farm that can "produce perpetually", yet has negative effects on environmental quality elsewhere is not sustainable agriculture. An example of a case in which a global view may be warranted is the application of
fertilizer A fertilizer (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American E ...

fertilizer
or
manure Manure is organic matter Organic matter, organic material, or natural organic matter refers to the large source of Carbon compounds, carbon-based compounds found within natural and engineered, terrestrial, and aquatic environments. It is m ...

manure
, which can improve the productivity of a farm but can pollute nearby rivers and coastal waters (
eutrophication Eutrophication (from Greek ''eutrophos'', "well-nourished") is the process by which an entire body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokm ...

eutrophication
). The other extreme can also be undesirable, as the problem of low crop yields due to exhaustion of nutrients in the soil has been related to
rainforest Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy Canopy may refer to: Plants * Canopy (biology), aboveground portion of plant community or crop (including forests) * Canopy (grape), aboveground portion of grapevine Religi ...

rainforest
destruction. In Asia, the specific amount of land needed for sustainable farming is about 12.5 acres which include land for animal fodder, cereal production as a cash crop, and other food crops. In some cases, a small unit of aquaculture is included (AARI-1996).


Nutrients


Nitrates

Possible sources of
nitrate Nitrate is a polyatomic ion A polyatomic ion, also known as a molecular ion, is a covalently bonded A covalent bond is a chemical bond A chemical bond is a lasting attraction between atoms, ions or molecules that enables the format ...

nitrate
s that would, in principle, be available indefinitely, include: #recycling crop waste and
livestock Livestock are the domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictabl ...
or treated human manure #growing
legume A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can ...

legume
crops and
forage Forage is a plant material (mainly plant leaves and stems) eaten by grazing In agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, se ...

forage
s such as
peanut The peanut, also known as the groundnut, goober (US), pindar (US) or monkey nut (UK), and taxonomically classified as ''Arachis hypogaea'', is a legume A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynth ...

peanut
s or
alfalfa Alfalfa () (''Medicago sativa''), also called lucerne, is a perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the ...

alfalfa
that form symbioses with nitrogen-fixing
bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typ ...

bacteria
called
rhizobia '' bacteria Rhizobia are diazotrophic bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are a type of Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a ...

rhizobia
#industrial production of nitrogen by the
Haber process The Haber process, also called the Haber–Bosch process, is an artificial nitrogen fixation process and is the main industrial procedure for the ammonia production, production of ammonia today. It is named after its inventors, the German chemist ...

Haber process
uses hydrogen, which is currently derived from natural gas (but this hydrogen could instead be made by
electrolysis In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in ...

electrolysis
of water using renewable electricity) #genetically engineering (non-legume) crops to form nitrogen-fixing symbioses or fix nitrogen without microbial symbionts. The last option was proposed in the 1970s, but is only gradually becoming feasible. Sustainable options for replacing other nutrient inputs such as phosphorus and potassium are more limited. Other options include , returning to natural cycles that annually flood cultivated lands (returning lost nutrients) such as the
flooding of the Nile The flooding of the Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive f ...
, the long-term use of
biochar Biochar is charcoal or soil, and firing it (circa 1890) Charcoal is a lightweight black carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol C and atomic number 6. It is nonmetallic and t ...

biochar
, and use of crop and livestock
landrace A landrace is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable s ...
s that are adapted to less than ideal conditions such as pests, drought, or lack of nutrients. Crops that require high levels of soil nutrients can be cultivated in a more sustainable manner with appropriate fertilizer management practices.


Phosphate

Phosphate In chemistry, a phosphate is an anion, salt (chemistry), salt, functional group or ester derived from a phosphoric acids and phosphates, phosphoric acid. It most commonly means orthophosphate, a derivative of phosphoric acid, orthophosphoric a ...

Phosphate
is a primary component in
fertilizer A fertilizer (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American E ...

fertilizer
. It is the second most important nutrient for plants after nitrogen, and is often a limiting factor. It is important for sustainable agriculture as it can improve soil fertility and crop yields. Phosphorus is involved in all major metabolic processes including photosynthesis, energy transfer, signal transduction, macromolecular biosynthesis, and respiration. It is needed for root ramification and strength and seed formation, and can increase disease resistance. Phosphorus is found in the soil in both inorganic and organic forms and makes up approximately 0.05% of soil biomass. Phosphorus fertilizers are the main input of inorganic phosphorus in agricultural soils and approximately 70%–80% of phosphorus in cultivated soils is inorganic. Long-term use of phosphate-containing chemical fertilizers causes
eutrophication Eutrophication (from Greek ''eutrophos'', "well-nourished") is the process by which an entire body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokm ...

eutrophication
and deplete soil microbial life, so people have looked to other sources. Phosphorus fertilizers are manufactured from rock phosphate. However, rock phosphate is a non-renewable resource and it is being depleted by mining for agricultural use:
peak phosphorus Peak phosphorus is a concept to describe the point in time when humanity reaches the maximum global production rate of phosphorus Phosphorus is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol P and atomic number 15. Elemental phosphorus ...
will occur within the next few hundred years,IFDC.org - IFDC Report Indicates Adequate Phosphorus Resources
Sep-2010
or perhaps earlier.


Potassium

Potassium is a macronutrient very important for plant development and is commonly sought in fertilizers. This nutrient is essential for agriculture because it improves water retention, nutrient value, yield, taste, color, texture and disease resistance of crops. It is often used in the cultivation of fruit and vegetables, rice, wheat and other grains, sugar, corn, soybeans, palm oil and coffee. Potassium chloride (KCl) represents the most widely source of K used in agriculture, accounting for 90% of all potassium produced for agricultural use.   The use of KCl leads to high concentrations of chloride (Clˉ) in soil harming its health due to the increase in soil salinity, imbalance in nutrient availability and this ion's biocidal effect for soil organisms. In consequences the development of plants and soil organisms is affected, putting at risk
soil biodiversity Soil biodiversity refers to the relationship of soil to biodiversity and to aspects of the soil that can be managed in relation to biodiversity. Soil biodiversity relates to some Drainage basin, catchment management considerations. Biodiversity Ac ...
and agricultural productivity. A sustainable option for replacing KCl are chloride-free fertilizers, its use should take into account plants' nutrition needs, and the promotion of soil health.


Soil

Land degradation Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment A biophysical environment is a life, biotic and Abiotic component, abiotic surrounding of an organism or population, and consequently includes the factors that ...
is becoming a severe global problem. According to the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations responsible for advancing knowledge on Attribution of recent climate change, human-induced climate change. It was established in 1988 by the ...
: "About a quarter of the Earth's ice-free land area is subject to human-induced degradation (medium confidence). Soil erosion from agricultural fields is estimated to be currently 10 to 20 times (no tillage) to more than 100 times (conventional tillage) higher than the soil formation rate (medium confidence)." Over a billion tonnes of southern Africa's soil are being lost to erosion annually, which if continued will result in halving of crop yields within thirty to fifty years. Improper
soil managementSoil management is the application of operations, practices, and treatments to protect soil and enhance its performance (such as soil fertility or soil mechanics). It includes soil conservation, soil conditioner, soil amendment, and optimal soil heal ...
is threatening the ability to grow sufficient food.
Intensive agriculture Intensive agriculture, also known as intensive farming (as opposed to extensive farming Extensive farming or extensive agriculture (as opposed to intensive farming) is an agricultural Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultiv ...
reduces the
carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a with the C and 6. It is lic and —making four s available to form s. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 percent of Earth's crust. Three occur naturally, ...

carbon
level in soil, impairing soil structure, crop growth and ecosystem functioning, and accelerating
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
. Modification of agricultural practices is a recognized method of
carbon sequestration Carbon sequestration or carbon dioxide removal File:Tree planting closeup.jpg, Planting trees is a means of carbon dioxide removal. Carbon dioxide removal (CDR), also known as greenhouse gas removal, is a process in which carbon dioxide g ...

carbon sequestration
as soil can act as an effective carbon sink. Soil management techniques include
no-till farming No-till farming (also known as zero tillage or direct drilling) is an agricultural technique for growing crops or pasture without disturbing the soil Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ...
,
keyline design Keyline design is a landscaping technique of maximizing the beneficial use of the water resources of a tract of land. The "keyline" denominates a specific topography, topographic feature related to the natural flow of water on the tract. Keyline d ...
and windbreaks to reduce wind erosion, into the soil, reducing soil salinization, and preventing water run-off.


Land

As the global population increases and demand for food increases, there is pressure on land as a resource. In land-use planning and management, considering the impacts of land-use changes on factors such as soil erosion can support long-term agricultural sustainability, as shown by a study of Wadi Ziqlab, a dry area in the Middle East where farmers graze livestock and grow olives, vegetables, and grains. Looking back over the 20th century shows that for people in poverty, following environmentally sound land practices has not always been a viable option due to many complex and challenging life circumstances. Currently, increased
land degradation Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or disturbance to the land perceived to be deleterious or u ...
in developing countries may be connected with rural poverty among smallholder farmers when forced into unsustainable agricultural practices out of necessity. Converting big parts of the land surface to agriculture have severe environmental and health consequences. For example, it leads to rise in
zoonotic disease A zoonosis (plural zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases) is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (bio ...
like the
Coronavirus disease 2019 Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease A contagious disease is a disease A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure A structure is an arrangement and organization o ...
, by degrading natural buffers between humans and animals, reducing biodiversity and creating big groups of genetically similar animals. Land is a finite resource on Earth. Although expansion of agricultural land can decrease
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
and contribute to
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...

deforestation
, the picture is complex; for instance, a study examining the introduction of sheep by Norse settlers (Vikings) to the Faroe Islands of the North Atlantic concluded that, over time, the fine partitioning of land plots contributed more to soil erosion and degradation than grazing itself. The
Food and Agriculture Organization The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture; it, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura is a specialized agency ...
of the United Nations estimates that in coming decades, cropland will continue to be lost to industrial and
urban development Urban means "related to a city". In that sense, the term may refer to: * Urban area, geographical area distinct from rural areas * Urban culture, the culture of towns and cities Urban may also refer to: General * Urban (name), a list of people ...
, along with reclamation of wetlands, and conversion of forest to cultivation, resulting in the
loss of biodiversity Biodiversity loss includes the extinction of species worldwide, as well as the local reduction or loss of species in a certain habitat, resulting in a loss of biological diversity. The latter phenomenon can be temporary or permanent, depending on w ...
and increased soil erosion.


Energy

In modern agriculture, energy is used in on-farm mechanisation, food processing, storage, and transportation processes. It has therefore been found that energy prices are closely linked to
food prices Food prices refer to the average price level for food across countries, regions and on a global scale. Food prices have an impact on producers and consumers of food. Price levels depend on the Food industry, food production process, including f ...
. Oil is also used as an input in agricultural chemicals. The
International Energy Agency The International Energy Agency (IEA; french: Agence internationale de l'énergie) is a Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estima ...
projects higher prices of non-renewable energy resources as a result of fossil fuel resources being depleted. It may therefore decrease global
food security Food security is the measure of the availability of food and individuals' Economic inequality, ability to access it. According to the United Nations' Committee on World Food Security, food security is defined as meaning that all people, at all t ...
unless action is taken to 'decouple' fossil fuel energy from food production, with a move towards 'energy-smart' agricultural systems including
renewable energy Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resource File:Global Vegetation.jpg, Global vegetation A renewable resource, also known as a flow resource, is a natural resource which will replenish to replace the portion resou ...
. The use of solar powered irrigation in
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
is said to be a closed system for agricultural water irrigation. The environmental cost of transportation could be avoided if people use local products.


Water

In some areas sufficient
rainfall Rain is liquid water in the form of droplet Rain water flux from a canopy. Among the forces that govern drop formation: cohesion, Van der Waals force">Cohesion_(chemistry).html" ;"title="surface tension, Cohesion (chemistry)">cohesion, ...

rainfall
is available for crop growth, but many other areas require
irrigation Irrigation is the agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in seden ...

irrigation
. For irrigation systems to be sustainable, they require proper management (to avoid salinization) and must not use more water from their source than is naturally replenishable. Otherwise, the water source effectively becomes a
non-renewable resource A non-renewable resource (also called a finite resource) is a natural resource Natural resources are resource Resource refers to all the materials available in our environment which help us to satisfy our needs and wants. Resources can ...
. Improvements in water
well drilling Well drilling is the process of drilling a hole in the ground for the extraction of a such as , , , or , for the injection of a fluid from surface to a subsurface or for subsurface formations evaluation or monitoring. Drilling for the of the nat ...
technology and
submersible pump A (or sub pump, electric submersible pump (ESP)) is a device which has a Hermetic seal, hermetically sealed electric motor, motor close-coupled to the pump body. The whole assembly is submerged in the fluid to be pumped. The main advantage of t ...

submersible pump
s, combined with the development of
drip irrigation Drip irrigation is a type of micro-irrigation system that has the potential to save water and nutrients by allowing water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and ...

drip irrigation
and low-pressure pivots, have made it possible to regularly achieve high crop yields in areas where reliance on rainfall alone had previously made successful agriculture unpredictable. However, this progress has come at a price. In many areas, such as the
Ogallala Aquifer File:Ogallala changes 1980-1995.svg, 300px, Regions where the water level has declined in the period 1980-1995 are shown in yellow and red; regions where it has increased are shown in shades of blue. Data from the United States Geological Survey ...
, the water is being used faster than it can be replenished. According to the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute, several steps must be taken to develop drought-resistant farming systems even in "normal" years with average rainfall. These measures include both policy and management actions: # improving
water conservation Water conservation includes all the policies, strategies and activities to sustainably Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the 21st century The 21st (twenty-first) centu ...
and storage measures # providing incentives for selection of drought-tolerant crop species # using reduced-volume irrigation systems # managing crops to reduce water loss # not planting crops at all. Indicators for sustainable water resource development include the average annual flow of rivers from rainfall, flows from outside a country, the percentage of water coming from outside a country, and gross water withdrawal.


Economics

Costs, such as environmental problems, not covered in traditional
accounting Accounting or Accountancy is the measurement ' Measurement is the number, numerical quantification (science), quantification of the variable and attribute (research), attributes of an object or event, which can be used to compare with other ob ...
systems (which take into account only the direct costs of production incurred by the farmer) are known as
externalities In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods ...
. Netting studied sustainability and
intensive agriculture Intensive agriculture, also known as intensive farming (as opposed to extensive farming Extensive farming or extensive agriculture (as opposed to intensive farming) is an agricultural Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultiv ...
in
smallholder A smallholding or smallholder is a small farm A farm is an area of land that is devoted primarily to agricultural processes with the primary objective of producing food and other crops; it is the basic facility in food production. The name ...
systems through history. There are several studies incorporating externalities such as ecosystem services, biodiversity, land degradation, and
sustainable land managementSustainable land management (SLM) refers to practices and technologies that aim to integrate the management of land, water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Colo ...
in economic analysis. These include
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity framed The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) was a study led by Pavan Sukhdev from 2007 to 2011. It is an international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological va ...
study and the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative which seek to establish an economic cost-benefit analysis on the practice of sustainable land management and sustainable agriculture.
Triple bottom line The triple bottom line (or otherwise noted as TBL or 3BL) is an accounting Accounting or Accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial and non financial information about economic entity, economic entities such as b ...
frameworks include social and environmental alongside a financial bottom line. A sustainable future can be feasible if growth in material consumption and population is slowed down and if there is a drastic increase in the efficiency of material and energy use. To make that transition, long- and short-term goals will need to be balanced enhancing
equity Equity may refer to: Finance, accounting and ownership *Equity (finance), ownership of assets that have liabilities attached to them ** Stock, equity based on original contributions of cash or other value to a business ** Home equity, the differe ...
and quality of life.


Methods

Other practices include growing a diverse number of perennial crops in a single field, each of which would grow in separate season so as not to compete with each other for natural resources. This system would result in increased resistance to diseases and decreased effects of erosion and loss of nutrients in soil.
Nitrogen fixation Nitrogen fixation is a chemical process by which molecular nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific st ...
from legumes, for example, used in conjunction with plants that rely on nitrate from soil for growth, helps to allow the land to be reused annually. Legumes will grow for a season and replenish the soil with ammonium and nitrate, and the next season other plants can be seeded and grown in the field in preparation for harvest. Sustainable methods of weed management may help reduce the development of herbicide-resistant weeds.
Crop rotation Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crop A crop is a plant that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. Crops may refer either to the harvested parts or to the harvest in a more r ...
may also replenish nitrogen if
legumes A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can ...
are used in the rotations and may also use resources more efficiently. There are also many ways to practice sustainable
animal husbandry Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Ex ...
. Some of the tools to
grazing In agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sede ...

grazing
management include fencing off the grazing area into smaller areas called , lowering stock density, and moving the stock between paddocks frequently.


Intensification

An increased production is a goal of intensification. Sustainable intensification encompasses specific agriculture methods that increase production and at the same time help improve environmental outcomes. The desired outcomes of the farm are achieved without the need for more land cultivation or destruction of natural habitat; the system performance is upgraded with no net environmental cost. Sustainable Intensification has become a priority for the United Nations. Sustainable intensification differs from prior intensification methods by specifically placing importance on broader environmental outcomes. By the year 2018; it was predicted in 100 nations a combined total of 163 million farms used sustainable intensification. The amount of agricultural land covered by this is 453 million ha of land. That amount of land is equal to 29% of farms worldwide. In light of concerns about
food security Food security is the measure of the availability of food and individuals' Economic inequality, ability to access it. According to the United Nations' Committee on World Food Security, food security is defined as meaning that all people, at all t ...
,
human population Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedality, bipedalism and large, complex brains. This has enabled the development of advanced tools, culture, and language. Humans are highl ...
growth and dwindling land suitable for agriculture, sustainable intensive farming practises are needed to maintain high
crop yields In agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domestication, domesticated specie ...
, while maintaining
soil health Soil health is a state of a soil Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ;"title="glacial till, Northern Ireland">glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, ...
and
ecosystem services Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy . Such ecosystems include, for example, s, s, s and s. These ecosystems, functioning in healthy relationship, offer such things ...
. The capacity for ecosystem services to be strong enough to allow a reduction in use of non-renewable inputs whilst maintaining or boosting yields has been the subject of much debate. Recent work in irrigated rice production system of east Asia has suggested that – in relation to pest management at least – promoting the ecosystem service of biological control using nectar plants can reduce the need for insecticides by 70% whilst delivering a 5% yield advantage compared with standard practice.
Vertical farming Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers. It often incorporates controlled-environment agriculture, which aims to optimize plant growth, and soilless farming techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and ae ...
is a concept with the potential advantages of year-round production, isolation from pests and diseases, controllable resource recycling and reduced transportation costs.


Water

Water efficiency Water efficiency is reducing water wastage by measuring the amount of water required for a particular purpose and the amount of water used or delivered.Vickers, Amy. “Water Use and Conservation.” Amherst, MA Waterplow Press. June 2002. 434 Wa ...
can be improved by reducing the need for
irrigation Irrigation is the agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in seden ...

irrigation
and using alternative methods. Such methods include: researching on
drought A drought is an event of prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric (below-average precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the (which include and ), with a major focus on . The study of meteorolog ...

drought
resistant crops, monitoring plant
transpiration Transpiration is the process of water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Eart ...

transpiration
and reducing soil
evaporation Evaporation is a type of vaporization Vaporization (or vaporisation) of an element or compound is a phase transition from the liquid phase to vapor. There are two types of vaporization: evaporation and boiling. Evaporation is a surface phe ...

evaporation
. Drought resistant crops have been researched extensively as a means to overcome the issue of . They are modified genetically so they can adapt in an environment with little water. This is beneficial as it reduces the need for irrigation and helps conserve water. Although they have been extensively researched, significant results have not been achieved as most of the successful species will have no overall impact on water conservation. However, some grains like
rice Rice is the seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was relea ...

rice
, for example, have been successfully genetically modified to be drought resistant.


Soil and nutrients

Soil amendments A soil conditioner is a product which is added to soil to improve the soil quality, soil’s physical qualities, usually its soil fertility, fertility (ability to provide nutrition for plants) and sometimes its soil mechanics, mechanics. In general ...
include using compost from recycling centers. Using compost from yard and kitchen waste uses available resources in the area. Abstinence from soil
tillage Tillage is the agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary ...
before planting and leaving the plant residue after
harvest Harvesting is the process of gathering a ripe crop from the field Field may refer to: Expanses of open ground * Field (agriculture), an area of land used for agricultural purposes * Airfield, an aerodrome that lacks the infrastructure of a ...

harvest
ing reduces soil water evaporation; It also serves to prevent soil erosion. Crop residues left covering the surface of the soil may result in reduced evaporation of water, a lower surface soil temperature, and reduction of wind effects. A way to make rock phosphate more effective is to add microbial inoculates such as phosphate-solubilizing microorganisms, known as PSMs, to the soil. These solubilize phosphorus already in the soil and use processes like organic acid production and ion exchange reactions to make that phosphorus available for plants. Experimentally, these PSMs have been shown to increase crop growth in terms of shoot height, dry biomass and grain yield. Phosphorus uptake is even more efficient with the presence of
mycorrhiza A mycorrhiza (from Ancient Greek, Greek μύκης ', "fungus", and ῥίζα ', "root"; pl. mycorrhizae, mycorrhiza or mycorrhizas) is a mutual symbiosis, symbiotic association between a fungus and a plant. The term mycorrhiza refers to the role ...

mycorrhiza
e in the soil. Mycorrhiza is a type of mutualistic symbiotic association between plants and fungi, which are well-equipped to absorb nutrients, including phosphorus, in soil. These fungi can increase nutrient uptake in soil where phosphorus has been fixed by aluminum, calcium, and iron. Mycorrhizae can also release organic acids that solubilize otherwise unavailable phosphorus.


Pests and weeds

Soil steaming can be used as an alternative to chemicals for soil sterilization. Different methods are available to induce steam into the soil to kill pests and increase soil health. Solarizing is based on the same principle, used to increase the temperature of the soil to kill pathogens and pests. Certain plants can be cropped for use as ''biofumigants'', "natural"
fumigant Fumigation is a method of pest control Pest control is the regulation or management of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a ...
s, releasing pest suppressing compounds when crushed, ploughed into the soil, and covered in plastic for four weeks. Plants in the
Brassicaceae Brassicaceae () or Cruciferae () is a medium-sized and economically important family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social g ...
family release large amounts of toxic compounds such as s.


Plants

Sustainability may also involve
crop rotation Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crop A crop is a plant that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. Crops may refer either to the harvested parts or to the harvest in a more r ...
. Crop rotation and
cover crop In agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sede ...
s prevent
soil erosion Soil erosion is the displacement of the upper layer of soil File:Stagnogley.JPG, Surface-water-Gley soil, gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that togeth ...

soil erosion
, by protecting
topsoil Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements t ...
from wind and water. Effective crop rotation can reduce pest pressure on crops and replenish soil nutrients. This reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides. Increasing the diversity of crops by introducing new genetic resources can increase yields. Perennial grain, Perennial crops reduce the need for
tillage Tillage is the agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary ...
and thus help mitigate soil erosion, and may sometimes tolerate drought better, increase water quality and help increase soil organic matter. There are research programs attempting to develop perennial substitutes for existing annual crops, such as replacing wheat with the wild grass ''Thinopyrum intermedium'', or possible experimental hybrids of it and wheat.


Traditional agriculture

Often thought of as inherently destructive, slash-and-burn or slash-and-char shifting cultivation have been practiced in the Amazon for thousands of years. Some traditional systems combine polyculture with sustainability. In South-East Asia, rice-fish systems on rice paddies have raised freshwater fish as well as rice, producing an additional product and reducing
eutrophication Eutrophication (from Greek ''eutrophos'', "well-nourished") is the process by which an entire body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokm ...

eutrophication
of neighboring rivers. A variant in Indonesia combines rice, fish, ducks and water fern; the ducks eat the weeds that would otherwise limit rice growth, saving labour and herbicides, while the duck and fish manure substitute for fertilizer. Raised field agriculture has been recently revived in certain areas of the world, such as the Altiplano region in Bolivia and Peru. This has resurged in the form of traditional Waru Waru raised fields, which create nutrient-rich soil in regions where such soil is scarce. This method is extremely productive and has recently been utilized by indigenous groups in the area and the nearby Amazon Basin to make use of lands that have been historically hard to cultivate. In Ohio, some farmers that could not buy land good for agriculture restored soil considered as unsuitable for any agricultural activity with traditional methods.


Indigenous Agriculture

Native Americans in the United States practiced sustainable agriculture through their subsistence farming techniques. Many tribes grew or harvested their own food from plants that thrived in their local ecosystems. Native American farming practices are specific to local environments and work with natural processes. This is a practice called Permaculture, and it involves a deep understanding of the local environment. Native American farming techniques also incorporate local biodiversity into many of their practices, which helps the land remain healthy. Many indigenous tribes incorporated Intercropping into their agriculture, which is a practice where multiple crops are planted together in the same area. This strategy allows crops to help one another grow through exchanged nutrients, maintained soil moisture, and physical supports for one another. The crops that are paired in intercropping often do not heavily compete for resources, which helps them to each be successful. Intercropping also provides a natural strategy for pest management and the prevention of weed growth. Intercropping is a natural agricultural practice that often improves the overall health of the soil and plants, increases crop yield, and is sustainable. One of the most significant aspects of indigenous sustainable agriculture is their traditional ecological knowledge of harvesting. The Anishinaabe tribes follow an ideology known as "the Honorable Harvest". The Honorable Harvest is a set of practices that emphasize the idea that people should "take only what you need and use everything you take." Resources are conserved through this practice because several rules are followed when harvesting a plant. These rules are to never take the first plant, never take more than half of the plants, and never take the last plant. This encourages future growth of the plant and therefore leads to a sustainable use of the plants in the area. Native Americans practiced
agroforestry Agroforestry is a land use Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment or wilderness Wilderness or wildlands (usually in the plural), are natural environments on Earth that have not been significantly modified ...

agroforestry
by managing the forest, animals, and crops together. They also helped promote tree growth through controlled burns and silviculture. Often, the remaining ash from these burns would be used to fertilize their crops. By improving the conditions of the forest, the local wildlife populations also increased. Native Americans allowed their livestock to graze in the forest, which provided natural fertilizer for the trees as well.


Alternative agriculture

The use of available city space (e.g., rooftop gardens, community gardens, garden sharing, organopónicos, and other forms of urban agriculture) may be able to contribute to sustainability. There is limited evidence polyculture may contribute to sustainable agriculture. A meta-analysis of a number of polycrop studies found that predator insect biodiversity was higher at comparable yields than conventional in certain intercropping, two-crop systems with a single cash crop combined with a cover crop. One approach to sustainability is to develop polyculture systems using perennial crop varieties. Such varieties are being developed for rice, wheat, sorghum, barley, and sunflowers. If these can be combined in polyculture with a leguminous cover crop such as alfalfa, fixation of nitrogen will be added to the system, reducing the need for fertilizer and pesticides.


Organic Agriculture

Organic agriculture can be defined as: Some claim organic agriculture may produce the most sustainable products available for consumers in the US, where no other alternatives exist, although the focus of the organics industry is not sustainability. In 2018 the sales of organic products in USA reach $52.5 billion According to a USDA survey two-thirds of Americans consume organic products at least occasionally.


Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems. It focuses on
topsoil Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements t ...
Soil regeneration, regeneration, increasing
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
, improving the water cycle, enhancing
ecosystem services Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy . Such ecosystems include, for example, s, s, s and s. These ecosystems, functioning in healthy relationship, offer such things ...
, supporting biosequestration, increasing resilience to Climate change and agriculture, climate change, and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil. Practices include, recycling as much farm waste as possible, and adding composted material from sources outside the farm.


Permaculture


Sustainability Standards

Numerous
sustainability standards and certification Sustainability standards and certifications are voluntary guidelines used by producers, manufacturers, traders, retailers, and service providers to demonstrate their commitment to good environmental, social, ethical, and food safety practices. Ther ...
systems exist, including
organic certification 250px, Organic vegetables at a farmers' market in Argentina Organic certification is a certification Certification is the formal attestation or confirmation of certain characteristics of an object, person, or organization. This confirmation i ...
,
Rainforest Alliance The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) based in New York City and Amsterdam, with operations in more than 60 countries. It was founded in 1987 by Daniel Katz (environmental activist), Daniel Katz, an Americ ...
,
Fair Trade Fair trade is an arrangement designed to help producers in growing countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships. Members of the fair trade movement add the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as improved social ...
,
UTZ Certified UTZ, formerly called UTZ Certified, is a program and a label for sustainable farming. The UTZ label is featured on more than 10,000 product packages in over 116 countries. In 2014, UTZ was reported to be the largest program for sustainable farmin ...

UTZ Certified
, GlobalGAP, Bird Friendly, and the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C). These standards specify rules that producers, manufacturers and traders need to follow so that the things they do, make, or grow do not hurt people and the environment. These standards are also known as Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) that are private standards that require products to meet specific economic, social or environmental sustainability metrics. The requirements can refer to product quality or attributes, but also to production and processing methods, as well as transportation. VSS are mostly designed and marketed by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or private firms and they are adopted by actors up and down the value chain, from farmers to retailers. Certifications and labels are used to signal the successful implementation of a VSS. According to the ITC standards map the mostly covered products by standards are agricultural products. Around 500 VSS today apply to key exports of many developing countries, such as coffee, tea, bananas, cocoa, palm oil, timber, cotton, and organic agri-foods. VSS are found to reduce eutrophication, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and natural ecosystem conversion. And thus are considered as a potential tool for sustainable agriculture. According to the ITC Standards Map, the mostly covered sector by sustainability standards is the agricultural sector.


Social factors


Rural economic development

Sustainable agriculture attempts to solve multiple problems with one broad solution. The goal of sustainable agricultural practices is to decrease environmental degradation due to farming while increasing crop–and thus food–output. There are many varying strategies attempting to use sustainable farming practices in order to increase rural economic development within Smallholding, small-scale farming communities. Two of the most popular and opposing strategies within the modern discourse are allowing unrestricted markets to determine food production and deeming food a Human rights, human right. Neither of these approaches have been proven to work without fail. A promising proposal to rural poverty reduction within agricultural communities is sustainable economic growth; the most important aspect of this policy is to regularly include the poorest farmers in the economy-wide development through the stabilization of small-scale agricultural economies. In 2007, the United Nations reported on "Organic farming, Organic Agriculture and Food security, Food Security in Africa", stating that using sustainable agriculture could be a tool in reaching global food security without expanding land usage and reducing environmental impacts. There has been evidence provided by developing nations from the early 2000s stating that when people in their communities are not factored into the agricultural process that serious harm is done. The Social science, social scientist Charles Kellogg has stated that, "In a final effort, exploited people pass their suffering to the land." Sustainable agriculture mean the ability to permanently and continuously "feed its constituent populations". There are a lot of opportunities that can increase farmers' profits, improve communities, and continue sustainable practices. For example, in Uganda Genetically modified organism, Genetically Modified Organisms were originally illegal, however, with the stress of banana crisis in Uganda where Banana Bacterial Wilt had the potential to wipe out 90% of yield they decided to explore GMOs as a possible solution. The government issued the National Biotechnology and Biosafety bill which will allow scientists that are part of the National Banana Research Program to start experimenting with genetically modified organisms. This effort has the potential to help local communities because a significant portion Subsistence agriculture, live off the food they grow themselves and it will be profitable because the yield of their main produce will remain stable. Not all regions are suitable for agriculture. The technological advancement of the past few decades has allowed agriculture to develop in some of these regions. For example, Nepal has built greenhouses to deal with its high altitude and mountainous regions. Greenhouses allow for greater crop production and also use less water since they are closed systems. Desalination techniques can turn salt water into fresh water which allows greater access to water for areas with a limited supply. This allows the irrigation of crops without decreasing natural fresh water sources. While desalination can be a tool to provide water to areas that need it to sustain agriculture, it requires money and resources. Regions of China have been considering large scale desalination in order to increase access to water, but the current cost of the desalination process makes it impractical.


Women

Women working in sustainable agriculture come from numerous backgrounds, ranging from academia to labour. From 1978-2007, in the United States, the number of women farm operators has tripled. In 2007, women operated 14 percent of farms, compared to five percent in 1978. Much of the growth is due to women farming outside of the "male dominated field of conventional agriculture".


Growing your own food

The practice of growing food in the backyard of houses, schools, etc., by families or by communities became widespread in the US at the time of World War I, the Great Recession and World War II, so that in one point of time 40% of the vegetables of the USA was produced in this way. The practice became more popular again in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. This method permits to grow food in a relatively sustainable way and at the same time make easier for Poverty, poor people to obtain food.


Standards

Numerous
sustainability standards and certification Sustainability standards and certifications are voluntary guidelines used by producers, manufacturers, traders, retailers, and service providers to demonstrate their commitment to good environmental, social, ethical, and food safety practices. Ther ...
systems exist, including
organic certification 250px, Organic vegetables at a farmers' market in Argentina Organic certification is a certification Certification is the formal attestation or confirmation of certain characteristics of an object, person, or organization. This confirmation i ...
,
Rainforest Alliance The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) based in New York City and Amsterdam, with operations in more than 60 countries. It was founded in 1987 by Daniel Katz (environmental activist), Daniel Katz, an Americ ...
,
Fair Trade Fair trade is an arrangement designed to help producers in growing countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships. Members of the fair trade movement add the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as improved social ...
,
UTZ Certified UTZ, formerly called UTZ Certified, is a program and a label for sustainable farming. The UTZ label is featured on more than 10,000 product packages in over 116 countries. In 2014, UTZ was reported to be the largest program for sustainable farmin ...

UTZ Certified
, GlobalGAP, Bird Friendly, and the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C). These standards specify rules that producers, manufacturers and traders need to follow so that the things they make, grow or engage in do not cause harm to people and the environment. According to the ITC Standards Map, the mostly covered sector by sustainability standards is the agricultural sector.


Policy

Sustainable agriculture is a topic in international policy concerning its potential to reduce environmental risks. In 2011, the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, as part of its recommendations for policymakers on achieving food security in the face of climate change, urged that sustainable agriculture must be integrated into national and international policy. The Commission stressed that increasing weather variability and climate shocks will negatively affect agricultural yields, necessitating early action to drive change in agricultural production systems towards increasing resilience. It also called for dramatically increased investments in sustainable agriculture in the next decade, including in national research and development budgets, land rehabilitation, economic incentives, and infrastructure improvement.


International

During 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, 45 countries pledged to give more than 4 billion dollars for transition to sustainable agriculture. The organization "Slow Food" expressed concern about the effectivity of the spendings, as they concentrate on technological solutions and reforestation en place of "a holistic agroecology that transforms food from a mass-produced commodity into part of a sustainable system that works within natural boundaries."


European Union

In May 2020 the European Union published a program, named "From Farm to Fork" for making its agriculture more sustainable. In the official page of the program From Farm to Fork is cited Frans Timmermans the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, saying that: The program includes the next targets: * Making 25% of EU agriculture organic, by the year 2030. * Reduce by 50% the use of pesticides by the year 2030. * Reduce the use of
fertilizer A fertilizer (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American E ...

fertilizer
s by 20% by the year 2030. * Reduce nutrient loss by at least 50%. * Reduce the use of antimicrobials in agriculture and antimicrobials in aquaculture by 50% by 2030. * Create sustainable food labeling. * Reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. * Dedicate to R&I related to the issue €10 billion. Text was copied from this source, which is available under
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


China

In 2016, the Chinese government adopted a plan to reduce China's meat consumption by 50%, for achieving more sustainable and healthy food system. In 2019, the National Basic Research Program or Program 973 funded research into Science and Technology Backyard (STB). STBs are hubs often created in rural areas with significant rates of Smallholding, small-scale farming that combine knowledge of traditional practices with new innovations and technology implementation. The purpose of this program was to invest in sustainable farming throughout the country and increase food production while achieving few negative environmental effects. The program was ultimately proven to be successful, and the study found that the merging of traditional practices and appropriate technology was instrumental in higher crop yields.


United States

Policies from 1930 - 2000 The New Deal implemented policies and programs that promoted sustainable agriculture. Under the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1933, it provided farmers payments to create a supply management regime that capped production of important crops. This allowed farmers to focus on growing food and not competing in the market based system. The New Deal also provided a monetary incentive for farmers that left some of their fields unsown or ungrazed to order to improve the soil conditions. The Cooperative Extension Service was also established that set up sharing funding responsibilities amongst the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, land-grant universities, and local communities. The 1950s to 1990s was when the government switched its stance on agriculture policy which halted sustainable agriculture. The Agricultural Act of 1954 passed which supported farmers with flexible price supports, but only to commodity programs. The Food and Agriculture Act of 1965, Food and Agricultural Act of 1965 had new income support payments and continued supply controls but reduced priced supports. Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act of 1973 removed price supports and instead introduced target prices and deficiency payments. It continued to promote commodity crops by lowering interest rates. Food Security Act of 1985 continued commodity loan programs. These policies incentivized profit over sustainability because the US government was promoting farms to maximize their production output instead of placing checks. This meant that farms were being turned into food factories as they became bigger in size and grew more Cash crop, commodity crops like corn, wheat, and cotton. From 1900 to 2002, the number of farms in the US decreased significantly while the average size of a farm went up after 1950. Current Policies In the United States, the federal USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial assistance for those interested in pursuing natural resource conservation along with production agriculture. With programs like Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, SARE and China-UK SAIN, Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network to help promote research on sustainable agriculture practices and a framework for agriculture and climate change respectively. Future Policies Currently, there are policies on the table that could move the US agriculture system into a more sustainable direction with the Green New Deal. This policy promotes decentralizing agrarian governance by breaking up large commodity farms that were created in the 1950s to 1980s. Decentralized governance within the farming community would allow for more adaptive management at local levels to help focus on climate change mitigation,
food security Food security is the measure of the availability of food and individuals' Economic inequality, ability to access it. According to the United Nations' Committee on World Food Security, food security is defined as meaning that all people, at all t ...
, and landscape-scale ecological stewardship. The Green New Deal would invest in public infrastructure to support farmers transition from industrial food regime and acquire Agroecology, agroecological skills. Just like in the New Deal, it would invest in Cooperative, cooperatives and commons to share and redistribute resources like land, food, equipment, research facilities, personnel, and training programs. All of these policies and programs would break down barriers that have prevented sustainable farmers and agriculture from taking place in the United States.


Mexico

In 2020 Mexico banned the domestic growing of GMO corn and announced a future ban on import by 2024. According to the announcement, the use of glyphosate will also be banned by the same year.


Challenges

A major barrier to the adoption of sustainable agriculture is its appearance of a lack of benefits. Many benefits are not visible or immediately evident, and affecting changes such as lower rates of soil and
nutrient A nutrient is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition * Matter, anything that has mass and t ...
loss, improved soil structure and higher levels of beneficial microorganisms takes time. In conventional agriculture the benefits are easily visible with no weeds, pests, etc. and the costs to soil and
ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syst ...

ecosystem
s around it are hidden and "externalized". Among 63 farmers interviewed in Tasmania most accepted the notion climate change was happening, but just a small segment believed that it was human-related. Few farmers thought that the issue of climate change was significant enough to diminish what was causing it. Some of the farmers were worried about how a suggested carbon dioxide reduction plan would affect the agricultural sector and were suspicious of numerous government related activities, seeing them as methods in which the government could punish producers. The author James Howard Kunstler claims almost all modern technology is bad and that there cannot be sustainability unless agriculture is done in ancient traditional ways. Efforts toward more sustainable agriculture are supported in the sustainability community, however, these are often viewed only as incremental steps and not as an end. Some foresee a true sustainable steady state economy that may be very different from today's: greatly reduced energy usage, minimal ecological footprint, fewer consumer packaged goods, local purchasing with short food supply chains, little processed foods, more home and community gardens, etc.


History

In 1907, the American author Franklin Hiram King, Franklin H. King discussed in his book ''Farmers of Forty Centuries'' the advantages of sustainable agriculture and warned that such practices would be vital to farming in the future. The phrase 'sustainable agriculture' was reportedly coined by the Australian agronomist Gordon McClymont. The term became popular in the late 1980s. There was an international symposium on sustainability in horticulture by the International Society of Horticultural Science at the International Horticultural Congress in Toronto in 2002. At the following conference at Seoul in 2006, the principles were discussed further. The growing popularity of sustainable agriculture is connected to the wide-reaching fear that the planet's carrying capacity, in terms of the ability to feed humanity, has been reached or even exceeded.Singh, R., Upadhyay, S., Srivastava, P., Raghubanshi, A. S., & Singh, P. (2017). ''Human Overpopulation and Food Security: Challenges for the Agriculture Sustainability''. This potential future inability to feed the world's population has been a concern since the English political economist Thomas Robert Malthus, Thomas Malthus in the early 1800s, but has become increasingly important recently.  Starting at the very end of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, this issue became widely discussed in the U.S. because of growing anxieties of a rapidly increasing global population. Agriculture has long been the biggest industry worldwide and requires significant land, water, and labor inputs. At the turn of the twenty-first century, experts questioned the industry's ability to keep up with population growth.  This debate led to concerns over global Food security, food insecurity and "solving hunger".  A common consensus is that sustainable farming is the most realistic way to feed growing populations. In order to successfully feed the population of the planet, farming practices must consider future costs–to both the environment and the communities they fuel.Ehrlich, Paul R., et al. “Food Security, Population and Environment.” Population and Development Review, vol. 19, no. 1, 1993, pp. 27. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2938383. Accessed 19 Mar. 2021.  The fear of not being able to provide enough resources for everyone led to the adoption of technology within the sustainability field to increase farm productivity.  The ideal end result of this advancement is the ability to feed ever-growing populations across the world. Oftentimes the execution of sustainable practices within farming comes through the adoption of technology and environmentally-focused appropriate technology.


See also

* Forest gardening *Hydrozoning * Local food * Overpopulation * ''Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems'' (journal) * Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (between the UK and China) * Sustainable Commodity Initiative * Sustainable development * Sustainable food system * Sustainable landscaping


Sources


References


Further reading

* Dore, J. (1997)
Sustainability Indicators for Agriculture: Introductory Guide to Regional/National and On-farm Indicators
'

Australia. * Lindsay Falvey, Falvey, Lindsay (2004) Sustainability – Elusive or Illusion: Wise Environmental Management. Institute for International Development, Adelaide. * Gold, Mary (1999
''Sustainable Agriculture: Definitions and Terms''
Special Reference Briefs Series no. SRB 99-02 Updates SRB 94-5 September 1999. National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. *National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2019) ''doi:10.17226/25259, Negative Emissions Technologies and Reliable Sequestration: A Research Agenda.'' * Paull, J. (2014
Lord Northbourne, the man who invented organic farming, a biography.
Journal of Organic Systems, 9(1), 31–53. * Pender J., Place F., Ehui S. (2006)
Strategies for Sustainable Land Management in the East African Highlands
' * Pollan M. (2007
''The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals''
* Roberts W. (2008) ''The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food'' * Royal Society (February 2008
Dedicated double issue of ''Philosophical Transactions B'' on Sustainable Agriculture. Some articles are freely available.
{{Authority control Sustainable agriculture, Agroecology Biomineralization Peak resource production, Soil