Re : Sustainable Agriculture
Hi to all sanets,
I must admit I have never liked the term sustainable agriculture since
its inception due I guess the adoption of the term instead of organic
farming. Back at this time there was really only conventional
agriculture and alternative farming. The definition of sustainable
agriculture 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 acceptable.
In Australia the term is loosely used for practices which have
economic sustainability as the major thrust with a bit of
environmental flavour thrown in. Rarely does pollution of the
environment, social or community issues get a mention.
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:
2. Soil resource
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 minus
a few diagrams.
Some more food for thought.
I continue to stress to authorities in Australia that certified
organic farms are the only production systems that operate under a
strict code of ethics(standards) that 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 leadership?
Sorry for the length of this note,
Organic Advisory Service
Organica Retailers & Growers Association of Australia