Farms all over the world are transforming and becoming more sustainable. It’s a fact that the world needs more sustainable practices, as if we don’t change soon, we’ll be in a lot of trouble. In the past, farming was dominated by people using chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and these things damage water, the air, climate, and soil. This system is not sustainable, as it degrades the resources that it depends on.
Because of this, more and more farms are going a different way with their methods. Many farms are now becoming more environmentally, economically, and socially conscious.
Environmental sustainability in agriculture refers to good stewardship of the natural systems and resources that farms rely on. Among other things, this involves:
- Building and maintaining healthy soil
- Managing water wisely
- Minimizing air, water, and climate pollution
- Promoting biodiversity
We’re going to go into these things in more detail below.
Planting Cover Crops
Planting cover crops is a good idea for times when the soil may be left bare. Cover crops include things like clover and hairy vetch, and they should be planted in the off season to maintain soil health. They will prevent erosion, replenish soil nutrients, reduce the need for herbicides, and keep weeds at bay.
Embracing diversity is a key theme for farms looking to become more sustainable. Planting a variety of crops is hugely beneficial. Some of these benefits include improved pest control and healthier soil.
IPM, or integrated pest management, uses a range of methods including biological controls and mechanical controls. They can be applied systematically and will keep pests under control, as well as allowing you to minimize the use of chemical pesticides.
Integrate Livestock and Crops
Plant and animal production is usually separated in traditional rural farming , but an effort should be made to integrate both livestock and crops these days. Doing this in a smart way can make for a more efficient and profitable farm.
An effort should be made to eliminate, or at the very least, reduce tillage. Traditional plowing is a method of preparing a field for planting. It prevents weed problems, but can cause significant loss of soil. No till methods involve inserting seeds directly into undisturbed soil. This method is more beneficial as it reduces soil erosion and improves health.
Managing Whole Systems and Landscapes
Sustainable farms all treat uncultivated or less intensively cultivated areas, like riparian buffers or prairie strips as integral to the farm. They should be valued, as they play an important part in controlling erosion, reducing the nutrient run off, and supporting biodiversity.
Pay Attention To Agroforestry Practices
Adopting agroforestry practices is a good idea for farmers who want to be more sustainable. Mixing trees or shrubs into operations means farmers will be able to provide both shade and shelter for plants, animals, and water resources. This also has the potential to create additional income.
Improving sustainability on your farm is absolutely key if you want to ensure the health of the planet and longevity for your business.
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