Sustainable Agriculture: Revisited

There still exists confusion between Sustainable Agriculture and agriculture products that are grown “organically.”  Let us once again define Sustainable Agriculture since it is such an integral and vital part of agriculture in the 21st century.

Sustainable agriculture.  Sustainable agriculture means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term:

  • satisfy human food and fiber needs
  • enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends
  • make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls
  • sustain the economic viability of farm operations
  • enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole

Sustainable agriculture does not mean a return to either the low yields or poor farmers that characterized the 19th century.  Rather, sustainability builds on current agricultural achievements, adopting a sophisticated approach that can maintain high yields and farm profits without undermining the resources on which agriculture depends.

In general, sustainable agriculture is the integration of soil and crop management technologies to produce quality food and fiber while maintaining or improving soil productivity and environmental quality.