Farmers are hardworking folks who make the best of what nature provides them. Many implement sustainable farming methods and their goal is to get good yield each harvest, enough to make a living and feed the population. Sustainable agriculture provides farmers with opportunities while having a beneficial impact on the environment.
What is Sustainable Farming?
It concentrates on three main concepts:
- Economic viability: Sustainable farming ensures an adequate net farm income to support the standard of living for farmers and ensures annual investment to improve the productivity of soil, water, and other assets.
- Development of Societies: Sustainable agriculture functions with profits closely linked to the well-being of farmers and rural societies. Poor social conditions hinder a farmer from delivering his skills and realize the potential of his land. Sustainable farming aims to reduce the adversities of farmers, forms an adjustable rural community, empowers farmers and increases their self-reliance. It improves the social relation between farmers and rural communities.
- Environmental Preservation: The overall objective of sustainable farming is preserving environmental conditions and creating renewable resources. The system improves the fertility of the soil by enabling low soil erosion and managing water usage. Using natural fertilizers, conserving natural biodiversity around the farm, controlling energy usage, all help environmental preservation.
Eco-farming (low input farming) and agro-ecology are all about farming methods and management of production units. While equity and food sufficiency are not about techniques of farming, but deal with the protection of natural resources, equality in access to food, and economic gain and assurance of adequate food supplies.
Sustainable farming helps farmers to innovate and employ recycling methods. Practices such as recycling crop waste and animal manure, crop rotation, and collection of rain water are few examples of how farmers innovate and make better use of resources.
6 Sustainable Farming Methods Implemented by Farmers for Sustainability:
- Energy Source Management: The most significant among sustainable farming methods is energy management by utilizing alternate sources of energy. Use of renewable energy sources such as solar energy, hydroelectric power, wind turbines, biomass energy and geothermal heat pumps give farmers an extra form of substitute energy. An economical application of natural, inexhaustible energy form helps maintain an eco-friendly environment.
- Soil management: A fertile soil is a key to good crop yield. Traditional, age-old, methods of farming, such as tilling and ploughing the soil still work wonders. Natural manure and fertilizers increase soil quality. Preventing soil erosion and desertification is an important practice of soil management – planting grasses and shrubs on bare ground for soil cover, process of mulching to protect the soil and plant, implementation of fiber logs (straws) especially on steep slopes to slow down water rundowns, planting trees around the plantation areas and terrace farming in hilly areas are a few soil erosion management practices.
- Crop plantation management: Three key features of a proper crop management includes a selection of site, crop species, and variety. Strategies adopted early on can reduce inputs of resources involved in a plantation. Site selection with consideration of factors like soil type and depth, previous crop history, climate, topography, and selection of pest-resistant crops tolerant to soil conditions are a few strategies implemented. Crop-rotation keeps soil healthy and nutritious while preventing plant diseases - crown rot and tan spot can be controlled with crop rotation since crop diseases are crop specific. Inter-cropping cultivation of pest-resistant crops helps control pest and insects.
- Water management: Water is an essential input for crops and its sustainability is important. Both its shortage and excess affects the growth of plants, yields, and quality of the produce. So, water management is a vital procedure. A well-rigged irrigation and drainage system can provide adequate water to crops and remove excess water. Rainwater harvesting system can be built to store rainwater that can be used during drought conditions. Another practice includes crop selection, whereby the right crops, which are more locally adaptive to weather conditions of the region, are used. Crops which do not require much water must be grown in dry areas.
- Livestock grazing management: A shift in grazing interval should be maintained while raising livestock. This offers a variety of grazing pastures for cattle, prevents soil erosion as the same patch of land is not trampled upon constantly and gets rid of weed before they multiply.
- Weed and Pest management: Farmers who own small scale farms can remove weed manually. This helps protects fragile crops and improves range where machines are incapable of reaching. Farmers can burn weed to hinder their multiplication. Another practice includes bio-intensive, integrated pest management, which is the introduction of natural disease fighting microbes into plants or soil which helps release beneficial organisms that prey on the pests.
These are few sustainable farming methods implemented by farmers to achieve sustainability. Sustainable farming works for farmers, for the environment, and for the consumers. Sustainable agriculture is practiced by a traditional farmer in Puriang village of Meghalaya.
Read more on how she goes about making intelligent use of her land resource.
Making a Difference to the Lives of Farmers
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