Sustainable agriculture is becoming increasingly important. However, farmers looking to improve sustainability at the farm are faced with the overwhelming challenge of producing high-yield, high-quality crops without undermining the natural systems and resources that crop productivity and environmental sustainability depend on. That challenge is becoming even more crucial when faced with today’s growing world population, which is forecasted to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.
We’ve compiled a collaboration of some of the most popular sustainable agriculture techniques employed by farmers today. These techniques help farmers increase yields and crop resilience, gain control over weeds, pests, disease, erosion, and aid in producing high-quality soil.
#1 Using big data to create field-specific applications
Instead of treating a field uniformly, precision agriculture uses big data to prescribe site-specific treatments utilizing technology like GPS and GIS. This micromanagement of a farm allows farmers to (1) provide the ideal recipe for growing the best crops possible on a specific location based on the needs of the soil and crop and (2) minimize their environmental footprint by using fertilizers and pesticides only when needed.
#2 Adding microbial products to boost yields and crop resilience and reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides
Instead of adding nutrients, microbial products add living, beneficial microorganisms that naturally increase crop and soil health the way Mother Nature intended. While seen as a new technology, data from microbial products demonstrate that soil microbes have the power to affect big change in the agriculture industry.
For example, Holganix Agriculture (aBio 800+ product) is a 100% organic microbial product, infused with over 800 species of diverse microbes to optimize your soils. Studies have shown that Holganix Agriculture increases yields and crop resilience when faced with stress, and reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides.
Want to learn more about results seen with Holganix Agriculture? Check out our case study “Boosting Yield and Degrees Brix at Alfalfa Farm Winery”: http://www.holganix.com/blog/boosting-yield-and-degrees-brix-at-alfalfa-winery
#3 No-till/soil enrichment enhances soil health and decreases erosion and runoff
No-till farming helps prepare the land for crops without mechanically disturbing the soil. There are countless benefits that come with adopting no-till farming including a significant decrease in soil erosion, an increase in water infiltration and retention by the soil (resulting in less runoff of water that is often contaminated with fertilizers and pesticides) AND because the soil is not being frequently agitated, no-till farming promotes biodiversity in and around the soil.
#4 Cover crops alleviate compaction and protect from erosion
Planting cover crops such as clover, oats, or radishes help alleviate compaction so oxygen and water can sufficiently flow in the soil. It also adds organic matter to the soil when tilled under for the next farming season and helps hold soil in place, reducing crusting and protecting against erosion from wind and rain.
# 5 Crop rotation naturally curbs pest problems
Crop rotation allows farmers to curb pest problems naturally. Many pests have preferences for specific crops; therefore, the continuous growth of the same crop guarantees pests a steady food supply. By growing different crops in succession in the same field, you help break that food supply and control pests.