Tag Archive | "agriculture"

Importance of Sustainable Agriculture

The Importance of Sustainable Agriculture

This was written by Dan Hart of Vellag.com.

As agriculture, like every other global industry, continues to expand, the need to ensure that farming is conducted sustainably is becoming more and more important. Sustainable farming covers many aspects, all of which must be addressed if the agricultural industry is to continue to expand in such a way as to avoid both adverse effects on the planet and jeopardising ongoing economic viability.

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The first element of sustainability that must be addressed is the conservation of natural resources. This is particularly true of developing areas, such as Africa, where assets like water and fertile land are in relatively short supply. The agricultural process inevitably takes a toll on these resources – water must be expended to nourish crops, and the fertility of a plantation will always be compromised to an extent by the processes of planting and harvesting. It is therefore important to lessen the impact of these processes on the surrounding area, so that farming will continue to be possible in years to come.

To avoid causing negative impact on the area in which you are farming, which may cause undue damage to local plants and wildlife, a tight rein must be kept on pollution when farming sustainably. Extensive use of pesticides, or use of a specific type of pest control chemical, can prove devastating to the flora and fauna surrounding farmland. This, again, is particularly true of agriculture in developing countries, as farm owners who are struggling for money may not have the necessary funds to purchase only environmentally responsible fertilisers and pesticides.

The importance of this aspect of sustainability is two-fold, however – it’s not just important to the plants and animals that live on and around your farm. Incorrect use of pesticides – which are essentially poisons, let’s not forget! – can contaminate crops, leading to severe (and sometimes fatal) impact on human consumers. The use of Endosulfan, at one time the most commonly used pesticidal chemical, is currently in the process of being phased out across parts of the world, due to its enormous toxicity. Although still commonly used in much of China and India, Endosulfan is believed to be responsible for a large proportion of all recorded fatal pesticide poisonings. There is even speculation that the substance is able to cause or can contribute to the development of cancer.

You must be prepared for a quantity of pesticide that is sprayed over your crops to be transmitted into the local ecosystem. It’s not just the insects and parasites that the pesticides are designed to target that are subject to the effects of pest control poisons – birds and small mammals which feed on those insects will also be ingesting trace amounts of pesticide. When those birds and small mammals are eaten by large predators, the pesticide is passed on – when the food chain continues far enough, humans often find themselves ingesting pesticides such as Endosulfan.

To ensure that farming can continue to grow at the beneficial rate we are accustomed to, we need to take a number of additional measures and precautions. Utmost care must be taken to preserve the state of the local ecology, including natural resources, wildlife and plantlife – if this is not done, then a year or two down the line, farmers may find that their plantations are no longer suitable to grow crops.

For the sake of the planet and the countries worldwide who depend on arable food production, make sure that your agricultural efforts are conducted responsibly.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Community Supported Agriculture Food Revolution

Community Supported Agriculture: Be Part Of The Food Revolution

This is a guest post by Sarah Bridge of alcohol intervention programs.

The topic of food is becoming an increasingly politicised subject. As costs rise and concerns grow over the chemicals used in agriculture, not to mention the high carbon footprint from transportation and deforestation to grow crops, the whole process of food production is causing serious concern for many individuals. Thankfully there is a growing movement which aims to take the power back and make food production a community led process that will help to rebuild local economies.

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In the UK and US around 25% of people now grow at least some of their own produce, however not everyone has the space or time to do it for themselves, especially in urban areas. This is where CSA, otherwise known as Community Supported Agriculture, is making a real impact on the health and well being of thousands of people across the globe. This community led approach allows consumers to make ethical choices by supporting local farmers and ensuring that the food they buy is local and largely organic.

How CSA Supports The Local Economy

The CSA movement started around 20 years ago and at present there are around 12,000 farms using this method in the USA alone. Although each of these schemes operates in their own way, the uniting factor between them all is that relationships between farmers and their communities are forged, allowing more and more people to reconnect with their food.

CSAs work by allowing consumers to buy “shares” from a local farmer, in return for fresh produce throughout the year. The benefits of this are immense for both parties. Farmers get a cash injection at the beginning of the year when the memberships are purchased or renewed and don’t have to rely on loans from corporate entities to whom they will be indebted to for the whole season. This not only helps with their cash flow, it also allows the farmers to concentrate on the marketing of their food at the beginning of the year, freeing them up to work long hours on the land when the season is in full swing.

Member Benefits

In return, members of the scheme are guaranteed fresh, local produce which is largely organic, as well as having the opportunity to try unusual, seasonal vegetables which may not be available in the supermarkets. There are all sorts of health benefits to eating seasonally too. Numerous studies suggest that foods which are in season contain the optimum levels of nutrition for the body, which is probably why people crave stews rich in root vegetables in the winter and light salads in the summer. Not only that, but the levels of vitamins in food decrease significantly the longer the food is in storage. By eating food that has been freshly picked you are ensuring the maximum levels of nutrition from your diet.

Many schemes offer community based activities as well. There are plenty of opportunities to visit “your” farm and engage with activities to help you learn more about food and its production. Other advantages of small scale CSAs over big industrialised mega-farms is that they grow a variety of produce rather than focusing on one or two cash crops which need heavy amounts of fertilisers and pesticides in order for the food to grow. By growing a wide variety of different fruit and vegetables there is more bio-diversity. Going back to traditional methods of companion planting and encouraging natural predators such as ladybirds for pest control has a tremendous impact on the environment as well.

Shared Responsibility And Respect For The Environment

There are all sorts of benefits to joining a CSA, but of course there are some risks as well. It is very rare but there are occasionally times when crops fail or personal circumstances mean that a farmer is unable to fulfill the commitment to their members and the produce is scarce. However it is this sense of shared responsibility and commitment that helps to create the community spirit among its members.

At the end of the day by joining a CSA you are helping to support your local community by buying local. You can eat well and be healthy by having the freshest possible food and discovering how to prepare new produce that you might never have come across before, despite the fact that it grows within a few miles of your home. Not only that, you are protecting the environment too by -cutting down on food miles and packaging as well as supporting farming practices that encourage biodiversity. There are plenty of great reasons to join the food revolution today.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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