Sustainability is a modern buzzword. As eco-consumer demands rise, we may notice more green labels in the grocery store. Though many individuals purchase non-genetically mutated organisms (GMO) and organic products, they may lack adequate environmental education regarding the problem’s source.
Understanding the importance of sustainable farming can help society expand solutions, further decreasing ecological degradation. Though some farms practice eco-conscious agricultural methods, the food system remains broken. Expanding green farming knowledge can raise national awareness and instill environmentally protective change.
What is Sustainable Agriculture?
Sustainability incorporates three sectors – the environment, economy and society. Its actions meet the demands of the nation’s three facets now and in the future. Sustainable agriculture meets current food supply demands without depleting resources for the future society.
Eco-conscious farmers reduce water exploitation, limit pollution and promote soil health. They combine green technology with natural growing patterns, accessing low environmental impacting crop yields. Sustainable farming protects workers, animals and the environment.
What is Wrong with the Food System?
Many U.S. farms meet high demands by growing produce in high quantities, time and time again. The repetitive farming of a single crop is known as monocropping. This agricultural production style, unfortunately, degrades the land of nutrients and causes soil depletion.
Over time, monocropped land becomes reliant on pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Crops become susceptible to degradation even with additives, pushing farmers to add more ecologically harmful substances.
After a storm, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers generate toxic runoff. Rainwater carries the substances to major water sources. When they reach the ocean, the nitrogen-rich matter creates adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems.
Algae feed on nitrogen, overproducing in certain regions. Algal blooms deplete oxygen levels and leave marine areas uninhabitable. The local species become vulnerable without accessible food and protection, endangering many.
Green Farming as a Solution
Fortunately, sustainable farming reduces the environmental degradation associated with monocropping and pesticide use. For each synthetic protection method, there is a low-impact alternative.
Farmers use pesticides to keep pests away from their crops and property. Mice can eat through vegetation and enter the farmhouse. They may chew up electrical wires and increase your risk for fires.
You can use organic pest prevention techniques, increasing sustainability and crop protection. Mice avoid peppermint plants, so farmers can plant them around attractive crops to prevent animal interference. Japanese beetles also invade various gardens, and farmers can keep them away from valuable crops by planting chives or garlic.
Another ecologically beneficial farming method is regenerative agriculture. It prevents climate change and rehabilitates local ecosystems by planting reparative crops. Increasing soil health and stability promotes biodiversity.
It also protects the land and crops from weather changes. Climate change causes high precipitation in some regions and droughts in others. When flooding and dry spells reach a farm, healthy and regenerated soil can help withstand the impacts.
Permaculture additionally increases the conservation of land through agricultural production. It uses a closed-loop system with complementary crops that all contribute to the local ecosystem and improve soil health. Integrated species farming provides adequate shade, nutrients, water, stability and energy within the cropping system, reducing human-driven machines that emit carbon.
Environmental and Public Health Effects
Sustainable agriculture benefits both the planet and human health. Reducing runoff toxins protects marine biodiversity and a consistent seafood supply. It also increases soil health, conserving our supply of produce.
Reducing surface and atmospheric pollution increase air quality. Pesticides cause adverse human health effects when inhaled. Unfortunately, a lack of knowledge and national awareness leads farmers to expose themselves to harm unknowingly.
Pesticides cause rashes, nausea, dizziness, cancer, congenital disabilities, immunotoxicity, reproductive disruption and more. Sustainable agricultural practices eliminate pesticide use and reduce chronic illness and acute effects.
Fixing the Food System
Fortunately, in America, we can vote with our dollars. Purchasing sustainable, organic produce may promote that market’s adoption of low-impact practices. Creating a sustainable demand pushes companies to reduce their adverse environmental and human health effects.