Re: Sustainable Agriculture

Hi Cyrus,

The concept of sustainability, and attempts to define it, have both been
addressed by many people in the last 15 (and more) years.  There is now a
good body of literature reflecting their efforts.  I do not know of any
single publication defining specific criteria for sustainable agriculture,
but I hope others on the list will point you to pertinent references and
offer their thoughts on the subject.  Here is one good one, however: 

NAL Online Catalog  - - - - - - - - - ISIS - - - - - - - CATALOG CARD
YOU CHOSE: Sustainable agricultural systems / edited by Clive Edwards

 NAL CALL NO: S494.5 S86S86
       Title: Sustainable agricultural systems / edited by Clive A.
              Edwards ... [et al.].
   Publisher: Ankeny, Iowa : Soil and Water Conservation Society, c1990.
 Description: xvi, 696 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
        Note: Includes bibliographical references.
        Note: "Proceedings of the International Conference on Sustainable
              Agricultural Systems that was held at Ohio State University,
              Columbus, Ohio, in September 1988 ... [under the]
              sponsorship of USAID ... [et al.]"--P. xiv.
  LC Subject: Sustainable agriculture.
  LC Subject: Agricultural systems.

The SARE program has JUST RELEASED a color brochure entitled:
*Exploring Sustainability in Agriculture*, in which SOME elements of 
a sustainable agricultural system are addressed.  These include 

1. Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
2. Rotational Grazing
3. Soil Conservation
4. Water Quality/Wetlands 
5. Cover Crops 
6. Crop/Landscape Diversity
7. Nutrient Management
8. Agroforestry
9. Marketing

The entire brochure is on the web at 

or of course you are invited to explore all of the information found at 
the Sustainable Agriculture Network's home page:  

I am not sure we will ever be able to define that theoretical point at
which any particular system is now sustainable.  Rather, we can consider 
the full spectrum of sustainability and work on ways to make our systems 
MORE sustainable (than they were).

I hope others will offer their thoughts on criteria and indicators of 

Andy Clark, Ph.D.
SAN Coordinator
c/o AFSIC, Room 304
National Agricultural Library
10301 Baltimore Ave.
Beltsville, MD  20705-2351
PH:  301-504-6425
FAX: 301-504-6409

 On Thu, 5 Jun 1997, Cyrus Abivardi wrote:

> June 5, 1997
> Dear Colleagues,
> Although the urgent need for a sustainable agriculture is well documented,
> criteria (and indicators) for sustainability have not been well
> established.
> Since sustainability is defined a posteriori, THE QUESTION IS how can we
> know that an agricultural system (for instance no-tillage agriculture with
> numerous positive/negative points) is sustainable?
> I would appreciate it very much if you could participate in this discussion!
> Many thanks in advance,
> Cyrus