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.
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.
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