http://pilot.msu.edu/user/dunnjef1/rd491/project.htm -- Lawrence F. London, Jr. - Venaura Farm - Chapel Hill, NC, USA mailto:london@sunSITE.unc.edu http://sunSITE.unc.edu/InterGarden mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org http:nuteknet.com/london Venaura FarmTitle: Sustainable Agriculture Educational Page
First of all, why is there such an interest in sustainable agriculture? Eating food is necessary for survival, and most people desire maintaining a secure supply of food. Currently, the world's agricultural output exceeds the dietary needs of all humans on this planet. Widespread hunger in parts of the world are due mainly to the failure of political and economic systems to distribute the food.
So if enough food is being currently produced in the world, what is all this concern about "sustainable agriculture?" The major concern is that while we may be able to feed the world today, future generations may not have adequate food production to satisfy their dietary needs. We know that some farming and land use techniques are not sustainable. For example, the Middle East used to be known as the "Fertile Crescent," but now much of that land is desert. Poor land use planning and unsustainable agricultural practices has lead to desertification and declining soil fertility in that region. Farmers and environmentalist alike are interested in creating cropping systems that have the potential to produce similar yields year after year with no decline in fertility.
What is sustainable agriculture? Environmental Science, an introductory course book for environmental sciences, gives three criteria for sustainable agriculture. 1) It must feed the world's hungry today. 2) It must feed the world's hungry tomorrow. 3) It must prevent deterioration of soil & water.
This sounds good, but how is it achieved? In today's political environment, people are not concerned with just having enough food but with many other factors as well. Agricultural systems have to not only produce crops, but they must also produce food that is safe to eat, minimalize ecological impacts, compete with other land uses, produce affordable foods, work within changing political & economic climates, and create products consumers are willing to buy. Within this framework establishing sustainable agricultural systems is much more difficult than it would first seem.
Creating a truely sustainable farming system is a very difficult task. Farmers must choose individually for themselves what methods are best for their own situation. Farmers must worry about maintaining soil fertility, stopping soil erosion, avoiding soil compaction, protecting their crops from pests, using adequate amounts of water, working within political systems, making a liveable wage, and creating a product that is safe to eat.
The following links will lead you to sites that explain in more detail different farming methods. The educational sites are far from complete, but they should provide a solid background into sustainable agriculture topics. I have also provided links that will lead to you pages created by others that relate to this project.