World Agriculture Must Become More Sustainable

Sustainable agriculture is an issue that many environmental scientists started pondering in recent years. The reason it is so vital is because food is something that people need for physical survival on this planet and agriculture directly deals with how to produce it. Nevertheless, there is a misconception that sustainable agriculture deals only with how to feed the expanding population today and how to produce enough food to meet the dietary demands at present. The difference here lies in the core objective of this branch of environmental science. It is a much broader concept which is concerned with meeting the demand for food in the future. It is a fact that some geographic regions that used to have fertile soil have become deserts due to inefficient agricultural practices that are common in the world today. Therefore, the fact of food overproduction at present will not seem so exciting if the future generations starve to death not having enough supplies to feed the ever-growing population. Therefore, sustainable agriculture is concerned with developing an efficient environment-friendly food production system that would eliminate a waste of limited natural resources and prevent land from losing fertility while producing adequate yields year after year. It is still important to produce enough food today but it is imperative that substantial agriculture factor in deterioration in fertility and depletion of natural resources, particularly soil and water. So far we have 3 areas that substantial agriculture is concerned with: meeting the demand for food today, ensuring that the future generations will be able to produce enough food given the ever-present deterioration of soil and water, and taking control of soil and water condition.

It is imperative to make agriculture more sustainable if we want to preserve this planet and eliminate the possibility of the global famine in the future. Creating a sustainable agriculture system is actually much more difficult than developing the concept of it in theory. It presents a real dilemma simply because numerous intertwining macro and microeconomic factors influence the level of quality and form of a product produced by the system. Therefore we have to factor in the complex economic and political environment while theorizing about sustainable agriculture systems. As a result, farmers are forced to produce products that people are willing to buy and that are safe to eat, compete with other producers, and act within political and legal boundaries. By the same token, sustainable agriculture creates a framework that farmers must act within, in other words a set of rules to comply with. This simply emphasizes that agriculture is a difficult business to stay in and to make it more sustainable is to complicate it even further. Nevertheless the level of difficulty involved must not deter us from this task because the potential results will definitely outweigh the problems that farmers might be facing today. Every year the total area of agricultural land gradually decreases because land is being eaten up by rapid development. At this point in time the US can produce more food than it needs and this can probably go on for several decades but if no radical measures are taken the aggregate supply of food in the global economy will dwindle. One of the potential solutions to this problem would be government support in the form of lower taxes for farmers. This would help people stay in business longer and concentrate more on environmental problems. In order to make the agriculture more sustainable farmers should utilize natural resources more efficiently. Some advanced cropping techniques must be employed to maintain soil fertility at a certain acceptable level and prevent it from deterioration. They also need to control the amount of fertilizers used in the process thus producing safe to eat and healthy products. Currently, the situation is far from perfect but it is headed in the right direction with the government starting to acknowledge the importance of this issue and providing support to farmers.

Rebecca R. Ammons

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