- June 27, 2020
It is possible to sustain agricultural activities while at the sametime keeping production levels to extents that can support societalsustenance. Soil conservation measures, water quality and quantitymanagement and conservation, fertilizer utilization and long-termland care are just a few among the several sustainability measuresthat the paper looks into. Renewal of resources used in agriculturestems out to be a critical measure towards ensuring a continuous flowof activities. The paper incorporates both primary and secondarysources in evaluating the possibilities of concentrating onsustainable agriculture while at the same time maximizing onproduction levels to meet the society’s demands.
Soil Quality in Sustainable Agriculture
Soil quality is a direct determinant of the quality of produce. Froman interview with Scott Reynolds, a farm manager at Lucas CattleCompany, crop rotation emerges as an important practice towardssustaining soil health and productivity. In his view, the managerstated that the main water source is rain. Therefore, in times ofdrought, shortages are experienced. However, with the researchconducted by Reytar, Hanson and Henninger (8), soil health iscurrently affected by erosion, degradation and water scarcity.Annually, they approximated that nearly 10 million hectares of arableland is lost due to erosion and reduced productivity. In order tocontrol the occurrence of such incidents, sustainable agriculturalpractices such as water harvesting, crop rotation and renewal ofresources are essential moves towards supporting sufficient foodproduction.
ExperimentalDetermination of Soil Quality in Sustainable Agriculture
Various studies and laboratory experiments have been conducted todetermine soil quality and the role it plays in enhancingagriculture. In analysis of agro-ecological determinants of soilquality in sustainable agricultural practices, Ezeaku (503) conducteda particle analysis using Gee and Bauder (1986) method. The soil PHwas retrieved in 1: 2.5 soil/water extract. Various compounds werealso measured such as organic carbon, nitrogen levels, availablephosphorus and estimation of bulk density. From the experiments, itwas discovered that soil quality is pegged on all the components andproperties that make up its composition.
The experiment confirmed Scott Reynolds’ assertions thatutilization of soil nitrogen differs among different crops. Inessence, rotational grazing and other conservative practices such asre-use and renewal of agricultural resources. This makes it possiblefor farmers to choose the crops to plant during various seasonsthroughout the year. Effective soil conservation practices such ascontrol of soil erosion, plantation of vegetation cover crops,management of extent of soil cultivation and regulation of chemicalsubstance use are just a few of the current strategies beingimplemented in order to conserve arable soil. In addition, thesemeasures are also aimed at increasing the productivity levels.
Production levelsand Sustainable Agriculture
The question of whether or not it is possible to implementagricultural sustainability practices while maintaining highproduction levels has been debated over the years. There is nopossibility of maintaining world food security without incorporationof sustainability in agricultural practices. In the short-run,sustainability may regulate the quantity of production. However,without effective implementation of these measures, resources riskbeing depleted, leading to world food crisis.
Five schools of thought “business-as-usual optimists,industrialized world to the rescue, new modernists, environmentalpessimists and sustainable intensification” all have divergentviews on sustainable agricultural impacts and possible solutions tothe world’s problems (Pretty, (Thompson & Hinchcliffe 3-4). Forexample, those who believe in sustainable intensification believethat sustainable growth can be achieved in currently unimproved areaswhile simultaneously improving on food production levels (Pretty,Thompson & Hinchcliffe 4). According to the authors, theagricultural practices should not only be focused on the productiveregions as this would lead to continuous degeneration of the soils.Instead, the less-productive regions can be reclaimed to facilitaterotational use of different farmlands to ensure continuous productionin agriculture.
RenewingResources for Sustainability
Resources in agriculture are varied. Capital, natural resources,labor and know-how are just among the few resources that are neededfor sustainable growth in the practices. According to Scott Reynolds,he experiences water shortages in the course of drought seasons. Thisscenario, however, can be changed to enable constant water flowthroughout the year. Through renewal of used water, this conservationcan be done to facilitate proper farming practice throughout theworld. Sustainable water management practices such as rainwaterharvesting, storage, reuse and recycling are some of the possiblemeasures that can be taken to support all-year-round farming.
Everyone has an entitlement to access of food and clean water. Inaddition, the available resources have to be used properly with aview to maintaining a continuous supply of food to the world’spopulation. This calls for sustainable food production with theprimary goal of attaining food security in the world. The VennDiagram below illustrates the link that exists between these threecomponents.
Fig.1: Sustainable Production and Food Security (Pretty, Thompson &Hinchcliffe 13)
Both primary and secondary data are in support of the fact that is itis possible to implement sustainability practices and still maintainsufficient production levels. Soil and water conservation practicesshould be the primary focus of the world agricultural communities andgovernments. In the short-run, the practices may not yield sufficientoutput. However, without incorporation of sustainability measures,the world risks going through periods of food crisis.
Ezeaku, Peter Evaluation of agro-ecological approach to soilquality assessment for sustainable land use and management systems.Scientific Research and Essays Journal. Vol. 10 (15): 501-512.2010. Web. Nov. 28, 2016.<http://academicjournals.org/journal/SRE/article-full-text-pdf/7B6913D54590>
Pretty, Jules., Thompson, John. & Hinchcliffe, Fiona. SustainableAgriculture: Impacts on Food production and challenges for foodsecurity. International Institution for Environment andDevelopment. 2014. Web. Nov. 28, 2016.<http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/6106IIED.pdf>
Reytar, Katie, Hanson, Craig & Henninger, Nobert. Indicatorsof Sustainable Agriculture: A Scoping Analysis. World ResourcesInstitute. 2014. Web. Nov. 27, 2016.<https://www.wri.org/sites/default/files/wrr_installment_6_sustainable_agruiculture_indicators.pdf>