The tenets of sustainable agriculture include satisfying human food needs, enhancing environmental quality and efficiently using non-renewable resources. To achieve these ends, sustainable producers abstain from using chemical pesticides and fertilizers, practice crop rotation and plant appropriate cover crops that prevent soil erosion, enhance soil quality and suppress weeds.
Instead of replenishing soil using synthetic nitrogen, sustainable farms recycle manure and crop waste to produce the resource while limiting waste. They may also grow legumes and forages, like peanuts or alfalfa, that naturally produce nitrogen.
Water is conserved by using irrigation systems that rely on natural rainfall or groundwater. To manage soil, farmers may practice no-till farming, plant crops in a keyline design, recycle organic matter back into the fields, protect soil from water runoff and plant trees to act as wind breaks that hold the soil. All of these techniques work with natural cycles to produce food without harming the environment.
This practice benefits the earth by replenishing water, air, soil and land for future use. Instead of allowing waste to pollute the environment, it is recycled and absorbed back into the farm’s ecosystem. Sustainable farms also limit their reliance on fossil fuels, and therefore limit their contribution to global warming.
In factory farms, animals are abused, fed antibiotics and are physically altered in cruel ways. Animals raised on sustainable farms are treated humanely and fed a natural diet. Cows are grass-fed and chickens are allowed to roam freely.
Sustainable agriculture does not just benefit the environment, but is also beneficial to people. Products made in a sustainable manner often contain more nutrients than genetically-modified products and contain little or no pesticides. Grass-fed cattle and the products derived from them contain more than six times the amount of Omega 3s than meat produced in a factory. For these reasons, sustainable agriculture should be encouraged by all those concerned about both their health and the environment.