Re: Sustainable Agriculture

Hi to all sanets,

I must admit I have never liked the term sustainable agriculture since 
its inception due I guess to what seemed to be a bit of an easy way 
out for academics and government people to accept organic farming type 
practices. Organic farming has all the wrong connetations for 
researchers and government advisers but sustainable agriculture was 

The problem is that definitions are often provided that suit the end 
purpose of that authority or that scientist. There are as many 
definitions of sustainable agriculture as there are of organic 
farming. Some quite complex and all- encompassing, others brief but 
encapsulating the real heart of what we mean. The definition provided 
by Wendall Berry  perhaps says it all....sustainable agriculture is 
one that does not  deplete soils or people.

In relation to indicators that might assist us in looking at the 
sustainability of properties the following criteria was used by myself 
in an action research project in examining the sustainability of a 
certified organic farm:
1. 	Philosophical
2. 	 Soil resource
3. 	Hydrological
4. 	Biotic factors
5. 	System level indicators
6. 	Pest & weed control
7. 	Economic viability
8. 	Social & cultural
These key indicators had many sub indicators to give data that might 
provide an indication of the sustainability of that property. The 
study by no means was complete and much future  work will be required 
to give even better information. The farm did stack up well however 
using these indicators.

If anyone was intersted in this paper I could forward it to them.

Some more food for thought.
I continue to stress in Australia  that certified organic farms are 
the only production systems that operating under a strict code of 
ethics(standards) can lead to a sustainable agricultural system. 
Annual re-inspections ensure that correct management practices are 
being followed. What other agricultural system can provide this 

Sorry for the length of this note,
Chris Alenson
Technical Adviser
Organic Advisory Service
Organica Retailers & Growers Association of Australia