sustainable_agriculter_intro

sustainable_agriculter_intro - A Publication of ATTRA the...

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Agriculture? Sustainable agriculture is one that produces abundant food without depleting the earth’s resources or polluting its environment. It is agriculture that follows the principles of nature to develop systems for raising crops and livestock that are, like nature, self-sus- taining. Sustainable agriculture is also the agriculture of social values, one whose suc- cess is indistinguishable from vibrant rural communities, rich lives for families on the farms, and wholesome food for everyone. But in the Frst decade of the 21st Century, sus- tainable agriculture, as a set of commonly accepted practices or a model farm economy, is still in its infancy—more than an idea, but only just. Although sustainability in agriculture is tied to broader issues of the global economy, de- clining petroleum reserves, and domestic food security, its midwives were not gov- ernment policy makers but small farmers, environmentalists, and a persistent cadre of agricultural scientists. These people saw the devastation that late 20th-Century farming was causing to the very means of agricul- tural production—the water and soil—and so began a search for better ways to farm, an exploration that continues to this day. Conventional 20th-Century agriculture took industrial production as its model, and verti- cally-integrated agri-business was the result. The industrial approach, coupled with sub- stantial government subsidies, made food abundant and cheap in the United States. But farms are biological systems, not mechani- cal ones, and they exist in a social context in ways that manufacturing plants do not. Through its emphasis on high production, the industrial model has degraded soil and water, reduced the biodiversity that is a key element to food security, increased our dependence What is Sustainable Agriculture? . ..................... 1 How Do We Achieve Sustainability? . ................ 2 Know Your Markets, Protect Your Profts, and Add Value to Your Products . ........................... 3 Build Soil Structure and Fertility . .............................. 3 Protect Water Quality on and Beyond the Farm . ................................... 4 Manage Pests Ecologi- cally; Use Minimal Pesticides . ......................... 4 Maximize Biodiversity on the Farm . ............................ 5 How Can I Learn More About Sustainable Agriculture? . ..................... 6 A Publication of ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service 1-800-346-9140 www.attra.ncat.org ATTRA is the national sustain- able agriculture information service operated by the National Center for Appropriate Technol- ogy, through a grant from the Rural Business-Cooperative Ser- vice, U.S. Department of Agricul- ture. These organizations do not recommend or endorse prod- ucts, companies, or individu- als. NCAT has offices in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Butte, Montana, and Davis, California. ±²³ ATTRA Contents By Richard Earles; revised by Paul Williams, NCAT
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course NUFS 139 at San Jose State.

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sustainable_agriculter_intro - A Publication of ATTRA the...

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