Sustainable Agriculture is one of the new trends in today’s agricultural industry worldwide. In fact, many farmers are changing and updating the way they grow their products through practices that are more environmentally friendly
Current ecological movements have sensitized countries to ecological and health consequences when products are consumed that require the use of chemicals or chemical processes in their production. Indeed, the close relationship between pathogenic illnesses and the products one consumes have now become undeniable.
As a result, over the last decade, sustainability is one of the new trends in agriculture. Indeed, sustainable agriculture defends an integral production system by:
- Maintaining agricultural productivity
- Preserving natural resources on which production is based
- Supplying healthy food that meets organic conditions for consumers
- Offering foods at reasonable prices that all types of consumers can access
- Promoting strategies to achieve sustainable profitability capable of competing with conventional agriculture
Sustainable agriculture is steeped in the use of natural resources such as water, soil, and sun to provide more affordable organic agricultural products. This helps to create a win-win solution, promoting for-profit agriculture side-by-side with the affordability of commercial products.
Characteristics of Sustainable Agriculture
A fundamental feature of sustainable agriculture is its comprehensive approach to economic, ecological, and social factors, aimed at offering an integral agricultural system that responds to shared needs.
Sustainable agriculture is thus characterized as responding to the following objectives:
- Improvement and conservation of the soil’s fertility and productivity, through management strategies (low-cost resources)
- Satisfaction and cooperation for the eradication of world hunger
- Economic viability
- Equity and improvement in the quality and conditions of life for both farmers and society
- Minimization of environmental impacts, achieving the protection and improvement of the environment
- Durability of the system in the long term, rather than short-term profitability (sustainability vs. feasibility)
Techniques that Promote Sustainable Agriculture
The principal techniques that can be implemented for a crop in order to develop sustainable agriculture are:
- Traditional crops
- Green fertilizers
- Crop rotation
- Integration of agricultural and livestock systems with agroforestry systems
These techniques for implementing strategies that achieve sustainable yields make it possible to obtain and exploit natural resources in order to create sustainable agricultural systems where:
- The flow of nutrients is used in order to conserve soil quality, thus avoiding fertilizers and chemicals that have harmful effects for consumers and that raise costs
- External resources —fertilizers and chemicals— are minimized, thus reducing costs and conserving natural resources
- Traditional agricultural practices such as always-simultaneous processes, traditional tilling methods, and pairing plant buddies.
Management of Soil Resources
The management and treatment of the soil is one of sustainable agriculture’s principal contributions for preserving renewable resources of production systems. Among the principal renewable resources that all farmers must preserve are the soil, air, water, and biodiversity.
The soil is one of the principal variables that must be borne in mind for optimization of sustainable agriculture. This is on account of the soil’s capacity to influence and determine plant growth. The following is thus recommended:
- Do not remove the soil
- Keep crop remains on the surface, under a direct planting system
- Keep the greatest content of organic material in the soil’s surface layers
- Use organic matter to minimize oxidation of the crop remains that have been contributed
Agroecosystems are the new trend in sustainable agriculture. Indeed, these systems represent the best way to preserve crop sustainability. Accordingly, the principal objectives for growing crops in agricultural systems are:
- Conservation of renewable resources
- Adaptation of crops to the environment and maintenance of a high level of productivity
- Prioritization of ecological sustainability in the long term
- Reducing the use of energy and natural resources
- Utilization of production methods that restore homeostatic mechanisms, leading to stability of the community
- Recycling of dry materials and nutrients
When designing sustainable agroecosystems, it is thus important to preserve two ecosystem functions in agricultural fields. The first, when using external and natural fertilizers, is the biodiversity of living microorganisms, since they enrich the soil chemistry.
It is recommended to use agroecosystems with:
- Ground cover plants as an effective strategy for conserving water and soil nutrients. It is not recommended to use tillage techniques, mulch, and cover crops.
- Continuous supply of organic material through the regular addition of organic compounds (manure, compost) and the promotion of biotic activity of the soil
Recommendations to achieve a sustainable agroecosystem
Some of the principal recommendations to achieve sustainable agriculture in agroecosystems are:
- Ensure soil conditions that are favorable for plant growth, especially when managing organic material and when improving soil life
- Optimize and balance the availability and flow of nutrients, especially through nitrogen fixation, nutrient pumping, recycling, and supplementary use of external fertilizers
- Minimize losses due to flows of solar radiation, air, and water, by means of microclimate management, water management, and erosion control (for example, the use of greenhouses)
- Minimize losses due to pests and plant illnesses. Control of the environment and of natural resources is recommended for this purpose
- Exploit synergism in the use of genetic resources. It is recommended to combine integrated agricultural systems with the use of natural resources and biodiversity. An example of this is the sowing of plants that capture microorganisms around the crop, so as to provide crop protection.
Crop Nutritional Monitoring
At AGQ Labs we have been working for more than 25 years in the continual monitoring of farm needs at any given time. In a practical and dynamic manner, throughout the growing season, we monitor the crop’s needs for water and nutrients, in order to adjust the irrigation and fertilizer regime to that demand.
Moreover, with such monitoring we achieve a sustainable agricultural practice, because there is no leaching that contaminates the aquifers or harm the soil structure. The result is:
- Minimization of environmental impacts
- Optimization of nutritive irrigation
- Better quality product
- Important savings in fertilizer costs
- Greater productivity and larger yields
To accomplish this, we have developed an internal Crop Nutritional Monitoring procedure, based on analyzing soil solutions extracted using our patented suction probes.
At all times, our guarantee is based on the know-how gained by AGQ Labs over the course of our history. Through our continual efforts, we have reached optimal reference values for the major crops. Our agronomists from around the world are experts in the interpretation of all this information, thus contributing the greatest value in matters of irrigation and nutrition.
Feel free to contact our Agronomist department for more information.