In recent years, “sustainability” has become a buzzword used throughout the agriculture industry. There’s a good reason for this.
Put simply, sustainable agriculture has the goal to meet the current textile and food needs of society without impacting the ability for generations in the future to meet their needs. Anyone who practices sustainable agriculture will usually try to integrate a few, primary objectives into the work they do. These include social and economic equity, economic profitability, and a healthy environment.
While sustainable farming looks different to everyone, there are a few practices that many ranchers and growers across the nation have implemented, many of which have led to significant successes.
Keep reading to learn how you can make your operation more sustainable, more productive, and more profitable.
Crop Diversity and Crop Rotation
For many centuries, farmers have used crop rotation to keep the soil on their property healthy, and have done this to avoid depleting it of nutrients, which may occur with monoculture. This is when you grow just one crop in a field at a time.
When you implement crop rotation, you plant different crops in different locations over a period of several years in a way that the succeeding crop works to replenish the nutrients that the one before it has taken away from the soil, and vice versa. With crop rotation, you can also prevent an array of diseases. Most diseases attack just one crop, which means rotating what you grow can remove them from the area.
Reduced Till or No-Till Farming and Cover Crops
During the off-season, you can plant cover crops, such as clovers or hair vetch, which are beneficial because they can build and protect the health of your soil and replenish the nutrients in the soil while preventing erosion, and hindering the ability to weeds to grow, which reduces the need for herbicides down the road.
You can also preserve soil with no-till or reduced till farming methods. This is done by planting all your seeds into unplowed ground. By doing this, you can improve soil quality while preventing soil erosion. However, if this isn’t viable, there are tools, that looks just like this one, that can be used to help reduce the negative impact on the soil.
Beneficial Animals and Insects
When you diversify your crops, you are also going to attract an array of insects and other creatures, such as bats and birds. Some of these may even destroy your crops.
With the natural predator-prey relationships, you can eliminate or reduce the need for chemical pesticides that may result in ecological problems by running off the land and into the water table and other bodies of water – this provides cost savings, as well, which make it an easy and smart choice for many farmers.
Farmers who look to implement this strategy can also release helpful insect populations, such as lacewings and ladybugs onto their crops to naturally control the pests. Consider planting flowers that attract various insects on the edges of your fields is another technique that will attract and retain various bats and birds.
Farmers can also make sure their land has enough trees. When you have trees planted near sources of water, they can help to prevent the water loss that occurs through the evaporation process during the dry seasons. They can also help prevent soil erosion.
Adopting Sustainable Farming Practices
As you can see, there are several ways you can adopt sustainable farming practices. Be sure to keep the tips and information here in mind to achieve the desired results and to have a healthy and pest-free farm.