By:Brodt Sonja(UC Sustainable farming Research and Education routine and farming Sustainability Institute),Six Johan(Department of tree Sciences, UC),Feenstra Gail(UC Sustainable farming Research and also Education regime and agricultural Sustainability Institute),Ingels Chuck(University that California cooperative Extension, Sacramento County)&Campbell David(Department the Human and also Community Development, UC)© Education

Citation:Brodt,S.,Six,J.,Feenstra,G.,Ingels,C.&Campbell,D.(2011)Sustainable education Knowledge3(10):1




Agriculture has changed dramatically since the finish of civilization War II. Food and also fiber productivity has actually soared early out to new technologies, mechanization, increased chemical use, specialization, and also government policies that favored maximizing production and also reducing food prices. These transforms have enabled fewer farmer to produce an ext food and also fiber at lower prices.Although these breakthroughs have had numerous positive effects and also reduced plenty of risks in farming, they additionally have far-ranging costs. Prominent among these room topsoil depletion, groundwater contamination, waiting pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, the decline of family members farms, overlook of the living and working problems of farm yard laborers, new threats to human health and safety due to the spread of new pathogens, economic concentration in food and agricultural industries, and disintegration the rural communities.A growing movement has emerged during the previous four years to question the need of this high costs and also to sell innovative alternatives. Now this movement for sustainable agriculture is garnering enhancing support and acceptance in ~ our food production systems. Sustainable farming integrates three key goals – environmental health, economic profitability, and also social equity (Figure 1). A selection of philosophies, policies and also practices have added to this goals, yet a couple of common themes and also principles weave through most definitions of sustainable agriculture.

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Sustainable farming gives same weight to environmental, social, and also economic concerns in agriculture.
Agricultural sustainability rests on the rule that us must satisfy the needs of the existing without compromising the capacity of future generations to accomplish their very own needs. Therefore, irreversible stewardship of both natural and human resources is that equal importance to short-term financial gain. Stewardship of person resources includes consideration of social obligations such as working and living conditions of laborers, the requirements of countryside communities, and also consumer health and safety both in the present and the future. Stewardship the land and natural resources requires maintaining or improving the high quality of this resources and using castle in ways that allow them to be regenerated for the future. Stewardship considerations have to also resolve concerns about animal welfare in farm enterprises that include livestock.An agroecosystems and also food equipment perspective is essential to understanding sustainability. Agroecosystems are envisioned in the broadest sense, from individual fields to ranches to ecozones. Food systems, which incorporate agroecosystems plus distribution and food usage components, an in similar way span from farmer come local ar to worldwide population. Focus on a systems perspective permits for a comprehensive view that our farming production and also distribution enterprises, and also how they influence human communities and also the organic environment. Vice versa, a solution approach also gives us the devices to assess the influence of human society and its establishments on farming and also its eco-friendly sustainability.Studies of different types of natural and human systems have taught us that systems that survive gradually usually execute so due to the fact that they are extremely resilient, adaptive, and have high diversity. Resilience is vital because most agroecosystems face problems (including climate, insect populations, political contexts, and also others) the are frequently highly unpredictable and rarely stable in the long run. Adaptability is a crucial component that resilience, as it might not constantly be possible or preferable for an agroecosystem to gain back the precise type and role it had before a disturbance, yet it might be able to change itself and also take a new type in the face of transforming conditions. Diversity regularly aids in conferring adaptability, since the an ext variety that exists in ~ a food system, even if it is in terms of varieties of crops or cultural knowledge, the much more tools and avenues a system will have to adapt come change.An agroecosystem and food device approach additionally implies multi-pronged initiatives in research, education, and action. Not only researchers from assorted disciplines, but also farmers, laborers, retailers, consumers, policymakers and also others who have a stake in our farming and food systems have crucial roles to play in moving toward greater agricultural sustainability. Finally, sustainable agriculture is not a single, well-defined finish goal. Scientific understanding around what constitutes sustainability in environmental, social, and also economic terms is consistently evolving and also is affected by contemporary issues, perspectives, and also values. Because that example, agriculture"s ability to it is adapted to climate readjust was not taken into consideration a critical issue 20 years ago, however is currently receiving enhancing attention. In addition, the details of what constitutes a sustainable system may change from one set of problems (e.g., soil types, climate, job costs) come another, and from one cultural and ideology system perspective come another, resulting in the very term "sustainable" gift a challenged term. Therefore, it is an ext useful and pertinent to think of farming systems as varying along a continuum indigenous unsustainable to very sustainable, fairly than put in a sustainable/unsustainable dichotomy.

When the manufacturing of food and also fiber degrades the natural source base, the ability of future generations come produce and flourish decreases. The decline of old civilizations in Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean region, Pre-Columbian southwest U.S. And main America is believed to have been strongly affected by natural source degradation from non-sustainable farming and forestry practices. A sustainable farming approach seeks to utilize natural resources in such a method that they have the right to regenerate their fertile capacity, and additionally minimize harmful results on ecosystems beyond a field"s edge. One method that farmers shot to reach these goals is by considering exactly how to capitalize top top existing herbal processes, or just how to design their farming solution to incorporate crucial functions of natural ecosystems. By developing biologically-integrated agroecosystems the rely an ext on the internal cycling the nutrients and also energy, the is often possible to keep an economically viable production mechanism with fewer possibly toxic interventions. For example, farmers aiming because that a greater level of eco-friendly sustainability might consider how they deserve to reduce their usage of toxic pesticides by bringing organic processes to bear top top limiting pest populations. This can happen, because that example, by planting hedgerows along ar edges, or floor covers in between rows, thereby providing habitat because that insects and also birds that food on the pests, or by planting much more diverse blends of plants that confused or direction pests (Figure 2). Maintaining a high degree of genetic diversity by conserving as numerous crop varieties and also animal each other as feasible will additionally provide much more genetic sources for reproduction resistance to diseases and pests.
A clover and grass cover chop adds biodiversity come an almond orchard, i m sorry aids in nutrient cycling and also provides habitat for useful insects, while likewise building soil organic matter.
Conservation that resources an essential for farming productivity also method taking care of floor so the it maintains its integrity as a facility and very structured entity written of mineral particles, necessary matter, air, water, and also living organisms. Farmers interested in permanent sustainability frequently prioritize caring because that the soil, since they recognize that a healthy and balanced soil promotes healthy and balanced crops and also livestock. Preserving soil work often method a emphasis on preserving or even increasing soil organic matter. Soil organic matter functions as a an important source and sink because that nutrients, together a substrate for microbial activity, and as a buffer against fluctuations in acidity, water content, contaminants, etc. Furthermore, the buildup of floor organic issue can aid mitigate the rise of atmospheric CO2 and therefore climate change. Another important duty of floor organic matter is inducing a far better soil structure, which leads to enhanced water penetration, less runoff, better drainage, and increased stability, in order to reducing wind and also water erosion.Due come a high dependence on chemical fertilizers, agroecosystem functioning has been disconnected from the internal cycling of key plant nutrient such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Phosphate minerals for fertilizer are at this time mined, but worldwide reserves are predicted come sustain food manufacturing for only an additional 50 come 100 years. Consequently, phosphate prices room anticipated to climb unless new reserves are discovered and innovations in restore of phosphates indigenous waste room developed. The recycling that nitrogen and also phosphorus (at the farm yard and local scale), enhancing efficiencies the fertilizer applications, and also relying on organic nutrient sources (animal and also green manures) space important elements of sustainable farming (Figure 3). Recycling of nutrients is assisted in by a diversified farming in i m sorry livestock and also crop manufacturing are an ext spatially integrated. For these reasons, substantial mixed crop-livestock systems, an especially in emerging countries, could substantially contribute come future farming sustainability and global food security.

The Quesungual agroforestry system in Honduras: Maize, beans, and also squash space cultivated between selectively maintained trees that administer green manure and/or fruit and/or firewood. The practice has been shown to mitigate soil erosion, increase yield, boost biotic activity, boost soil structure, and also enhance soil organic matter accumulation.
In countless parts that the world, water for agriculture is in short supply and/or its quality is deteriorating. Overdraft of surface waters outcomes in disturbance of key riparian zones, when overdraft of groundwater offers threatens future irrigation capacity. Salinization, nutrient overloads, and pesticide pollution are widespread water quality issues. An option and reproduction of an ext drought- and also salt-tolerant crop varieties and hardier pet breeds, usage of reduced-volume irrigation systems, and also management of soils and crops to mitigate water loss are all means to use water more efficiently within sustainable agroecosystems. Modern agriculture is greatly dependent top top non-renewable power sources, particularly petroleum. The ongoing use of these non-renewable sources cannot be sustained indefinitely, yet to abruptly give up our dependency on them would certainly be financially catastrophic. In sustainable agriculture, the goal is to mitigate the input of external energy and to substitute non-renewable power sources with renewable sources (e.g., solar and also wind power, biofuels from agricultural waste, or, where economically feasible, animal or person labor).

Agroecosystems can not be sustainable in the long run there is no the knowledge, technological competence, and skilled labor needed to control them effectively. Offered the constantly changing and locality-specific that agriculture, sustainability needs a diverse and also adaptive expertise base, utilizing both formal, experimental science and also farmers" own on-the-ground neighborhood knowledge. Social institutions that promote education and learning of both farmers and also scientists, encourage innovation, and also promote farmer-researcher partnerships deserve to increase farming productivity as well as long-term sustainability (Figure 4).
A farmer ar school in the autonomous Republic of Congo urges farmers to learn around sustainable farming methods from visiting teachers as well as from each other"s on-the-ground experiences.
Questions of social equity regularly arise in discussions that sustainable agriculture. Earnings for farm yard labor are so low in many industrialized nations that their farming sectors depend substantially ~ above migratory job from poorer nations, leaving farmers breakable to changing immigration policies and also placing burdens on government social services. The questionable legal condition of countless of this workers additionally contributes come their normally low pay and also standard of living, lack of project security, absence of avenues for increase mobility, and exemptions from work safety protections considered standard in other industries. Pooling resources amongst many farmers to provide much better housing, share labor amongst farms with different plants to even out the seasonality of occupational opportunities, common equity in farm profits, mentoring employees to acquire and also operate their own farms, and working on innovative means to administer affordable health insurance and also educational opportunities for employees room all alternative ways to boost labor equity and social justice.Increasing consolidation of food manufacturers and marketers and also of farm yard input suppliers way that farmers lack the financial power come negotiate better prices for their inputs and crops. This method their benefit margins gain squeezed, leaving many farmers with couple of resources to enhance environmental and working conditions. Banding with each other in production, processing, or marketing cooperatives is one means that farmers deserve to increase your relative financial power. Performing some processing features on-farm before selling their crops, producing higher-value specialty crops, structure direct marketing opportunities that bypass middlemen, and looking because that niche sectors are other ways that farmer can catch a bigger share that the financial value the what they produce. Policies regulating consolidation can likewise protect farmer in the long-term.Due to these economic pressures on farmers, plenty of rural communities have come to be poorer together farms and associated local agricultural enterprises go the end of business. Economic development policies and tax frameworks that encourage much more diversified farming production on household farms can kind a structure for healthier rural economies. Within the constraints of the sector structure, consumers can additionally play a role; v their purchases, they send strong messages come producers, retailers and also others in the system about what castle think is important, including environmental quality and social equity.Finally, several of the same economic pressures that have hurt on-farm sustainability have also created social equity comes to for consumers in low-income communities, that are regularly left with small access to healthy food as standard supermarkets move to more profitable neighborhoods to bolster slim benefit margins. Food production and marketing arrangements to bolster neighborhood food security, consisting of community and also home gardens, farmers markets, the usage of fresh regional farm produce in institution meal programs, and also local food cooperatives represent initiatives to attend to these comes to (Figure 5). Moreover, a food systems approach also takes into account the results of farming methods on the safety and nutritional attributes of the final food assets that with consumers, for instance by minimizing or eliminating toxicity residues.
Instruction in institution gardens and also other publicly gardens help children and their families learn to prosper fruits and vegetables about their own dwellings or in community garden plots.
Social, economic, and also environmental sustainability are carefully intertwined and necessary materials for a important sustainable agriculture. For example, farmers confronted with poverty room often forced to mine herbal resources choose soil fertility to do ends meet, even though environmental destruction may hurt their livelihoods in the long run. Just by creating policies that integrate social, environmental, and also economic interests can societies promote more sustainable agricultural systems.

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Feenstra, G., Ingels, C., Campbell, D. What is Sustainable Agriculture? university of California Sustainable farming Research and also Education Program. Http://

Agroecosystem* - an farming system understood as a set of security relationships between living biology (including plants and/or livestock) and non-living contents of their environment within a details physical area. Ecozone - a large geographic area encompassing a distinctive pattern of climate conditions, type of landscape, and species of plants and animals.Food System* - the interconnected "meta-system" (collection that systems) created of agroecosystems, your economic, social, cultural, and technological support systems, and systems of food distribution and consumption.Green Manure* - organic matter added to the soil once a chop (usually especially grown because that this purpose) is tilled in.Resilience - ability to cant or recuperate from adversity. In the paper definition of an agroecosystem or food system, that is the ability of that device to remain viable when affected by adverse forces, such as pest infestations, ecological degradation, financial downturns, etc. Adaptability - capacity to change type and/or role in an answer to transforming conditions. In the paper definition of an agroecosystem and food system, the is the ability to adjust some materials of itself and/or just how it is structured based on an altering conditions, if still maintaining its viability in offering products and services beneficial to people over the lengthy run. *definitions adjusted directly from Gliessman 2000.

Altieri, M. A. Agroecology: The scientific research of Sustainable Agriculture. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995.

Gliessman, S. R. Agroecology: eco-friendly Processes in Sustainable Agriculture. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2000.

Hinrichs, C. C. & Lyson, T. A. Remaking the north American Food System: techniques for Sustainability. Lincoln, NE: university of Nebraska Press, 2008.