Sustainable Agriculture Essay

1065 Words 5 Pages
As the human population continues to grow, farmers have adapted their practices to keep up with the increasing demand for food. While farmers have managed to supply the market with enough food, increased production has opened the doors to nutrient depletion of soils, contaminated groundwater, higher farming costs, and commercialized farms that are designed to turn out large quantities of single crops. With so many issues affecting the market and the future of agriculture, some farmers are turning towards the concept of sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is a farming practice in which farmers aim to provide food for people while leaving minimal impact on the environment. According to Dr. John E. Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural …show more content…
The world population continues to grow, and at our current rate, humans are going through the Earth’s resources faster than they can be replenished. Some of the resources today’s conventional farmer uses are considered “non-renewable” because of the extensive amount of time it takes for supplies to regenerate, and include resources such as natural gas and fossil fuels. Conventional farms also deplete the farmed land of water and nutrients. A finite amount of nutrients like nitrogen and potassium exist in the soil, and continued growth of annual crops will use it up rapidly, which is why many farmers rely on synthetic fertilizers. Another common technique used by farmers is known as “shifting agriculture,” in which the land is used until it can no longer fully support the crops grown on it, and is then left fallow, or empty, until organic life begins to take over the field again. Once it has been determined that the land has replenished enough nutrients to sustain crops again, the field is cleared and crops are planted once more (“Shifting Agriculture”). Methods like these are actually detrimental to the land and environment, because not only does it deplete the soil of essential nutrients, but it causes soil erosion and lessens water retention. If farmlands were maintained with more sustainable practices, then farmers would still be able to produce goods with fewer costs and less …show more content…
Many people that make arguments against sustainable agriculture practices make note of the reduced yields and increased labor requirements that come along with it. Others have also said that it would cost the average conventional farmer entirely too much to make the switch over to a sustainable farm. However, a lot of the opposition comes from short-term projections, as the concept of widespread adoption of sustainable farming techniques has only been recent. In reality, the long-term capabilities of large-scale practices are not yet known. According to one research paper, it is not known yet whether the transition to sustainable agriculture will even keep up with demand for food in still-developing countries, let alone the future needs of developed countries like the United States, that have a much higher demand. However, by researching and continuously advancing sustainable practices and strategies, the outlook for a positive outcome is high (Pretty, p.56). This faces farmers with an important question: which is the higher cost, the money required to make their farm sustainable, or the price future generations will pay when the land can no longer keep up with the demands placed upon

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