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The importance of Sustainable Agriculture

Earth’s population is rapidly expanding and with that expansion comes the need for more resources.  The global population is going to reach 9 billion people by 2050 with the need for food production to increase by 70% to meet the demands of a booming population. Today, more than one billion people around the world will depend on farming for their means of income. Although farming is essential for the production of human food, the expansion of the earth’s population has become a growing concern for the possibilities of producing that much food with limited natural resources left. In addition to this concern, food waste is a huge problem in the United States with 30 to 40 percent of food wasted from the transition between farm to table. These unsustainable practices create a stronger need for innovation within the agricultural industry. 

Sustainable agriculture is designed with the intention of preserving the environment, expanding the earth’s natural resources, all while creating a quality of life for animals and humans. Sustainable agricultural allows for the desires of society’s food and textile needs to be met without the fear of inhibiting the earth’s natural resources for future generations. In addition to preserving the earth’s natural resources, sustainable agriculture benefits the environment through helping maintain soil quality, reducing erosion, and preserving water. In order to maintain a sustainable lifestyle, agriculturalists focus on certain criteria in order to compete with current sustainability practices. This criteria consists of creating a healthy environment, while ensuring economic profitability in addition to maintaining social and economic equity. Every member of the food system can manage a sustainable lifestyle through remaining consistent within this criterion. There are many advantages to practicing a more agricultural sustainable lifestyle. 

One advantage of sustainable agriculture is eliminating typical farming practices which often takes up large amounts of fertile land through a single crop approach. This typical form of farming is an example of unsustainable agricultural practices. This oftentimes ruins landscapes and requires farmers to spend an unnecessary amount of money on acquiring more land. Through sustainable farming practices, single-crop agriculture is eliminated by placing multiple crops on the same plot of land by combining tall, sun-loving plants with shorter shade-loving plants. This approach enables farmers to grow more crops using less land while also preserving the environment. Although with this approach, one of the biggest disadvantages to sustainable agriculture is that you are unable to grow as many crops at a single time considering a more sustainable approach typically leads to fewer crops in one plot so plants don’t leach nutrients out of the soil. For farmers who want to continue to produce mass agriculture, sustainable farming practices are often hard to abide by.  

Another advantage of sustainable agriculture is eliminating cruelty behind factory farming by decreasing the brutal treatment of farm animals. Before the wave of sustainable agriculture, typical farming practices consisted of packing large quantities of animals into tiny cages in order to preserve farm space. This practice not only contributes to the horrific mistreatment of animals but also contributes to the spreading of diseases, which oftentimes results in infections and deaths within the farms. Sustainable agriculture creates a humane environment for farm animals by limiting the quantities of animals per farm while also implementing a healthy plant-based diet with sufficient room for animals to roam.

Lastly, sustainable agriculture has the ability to significantly reduce water pollution by eliminating harmful fertilizers that seep into run-off water and ruin the natural environment. Methane production pollution is a potent greenhouse gas that is harmful to the earth’s water and atmosphere. Unfortunately, most of this methane comes from the practice of industrial cattle farming. Through sustainable agricultural practices of crop rotation, the use of natural fertilizer and minimizing animals per farm pollution can be significantly reduced. This reduction not only benefits air quality, but it preserves the earth’s natural resources that could be greatly harmed through methane. 

In regards to the future of sustainable agriculture, many believe by the time earth’s population reaches 9 billion we will be fully depleted of many natural resources that will require alternative sustainable solutions. This gives us 40 years to make a change towards sustainable lifestyles in preserving our agriculture and food sources. Sustainable agriculture is not the only step in the wave of preserving our planet, but it is an important building block in taking preventative measures in order to maintain the resources we have left. 

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