Agriculture is the most important thing that humans have, since a good part of the food that we consume has to be cultivated first, and that is something we do in orchards, production nurseries and even inside the home. However, it can also be our main enemy, since at least 16% of the pollutant emissions that reach the atmosphere come precisely from fertilizers according to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).
But is there anything we can do to be well fed without polluting the environment? The answer is as simple as it is clear: yes. For example, practicing what is known as sustainable agricultureof which we are going to tell you everything below.
What is sustainable agriculture?
As its name suggests, it is a type of agriculture that it is developed in a sustainable way; that is, satisfying the needs that humans have to obtain food using resources in a respectful and controlled way of which we have so that future generations can also grow their own food.
The term began to be used in 1907, when Franklin H. King, spoke about the advantages of this type of agriculture in his book Farmers of Forty Centuries, in which he also warned that such practices would be fundamental for agriculture in the future . It was later coined by Australian agronomist Gordon McClymont, but it didn’t become popular until the late 1980s.
Already in the XNUMXst century, conferences began to be held in which they talked about the characteristics, benefits and how to carry it out.
What are the objectives of sustainable agriculture?
Its objectives could almost be said that they are quite simple in reality, although when it comes to putting them into practice, and taking into account the current circumstances in which the use of chemicals is a fact that occurs very frequently, sometimes they become difficult to achieve. They are the following:
- Satisfy human needs for food.
- Make more efficient use of non-renewable resources, as well as those available in orchards and farms, respecting the natural cycles of the place.
- Improve the quality of life of farmers and society in general, avoiding the use of chemical products and overexploitation of the land.
- Use the experience of farmers to work the land more productively, as well as to promote their self-sufficiency.
- Solve problems that may arise, for example in irrigation or pest control, through the cooperation and collaboration of people.
What types of sustainable agriculture are there?
Although they share characteristics, sustainable agriculture can be divided into four varieties or models:
Organic farming is a practice in which, roughly, The use of chemical products is avoided, both to fertilize and to treat plant pests. Crop rotation is very important to maintain the biodiversity of the land, as well as the contribution of organic fertilizers.
Biodynamic agriculture, In addition to respecting and taking advantage of the natural resources of each area, it also takes into account the energy relationships between all the elements (soil, nutrients, animal microorganisms) and the cosmos. When growing plants, own compounds based on both animal and plant ingredients are used, taking into account the influences of the cosmos.
It must be said that it is part of anthroposophy, that is, a spiritual philosophy that was developed between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries. Today it is often included in organic farming.
Permaculture is a type of sustainable agriculture whose main objective is be able to grow plants all year round, but always respecting the nature of the place and not using beyond what is strictly necessary. In addition, those who practice it can also learn a lot from the mistakes that are made, or carry out practices – ecological, we insist – that are considered to be useful.
Integrated production agriculture is a rather special type of sustainable agriculture. It is based on taking care of the plants with organic products, but it also allows the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in certain cases (here! you can see what they are).
How can you have sustainable agriculture in a garden?
If you want to start growing your own food sustainably, you can do this:
Grow plants resistant to your climate
Ideally, they should be indigenous, but when it comes to plants for human consumption, it is not always easy to find species that are specific to the country where you live. Therefore, when there are not or cannot be obtained, you have to look for those that are capable of living well in your area.
Fertilize your plants with products of organic origin
Fertilizers are chemical products that, although they can be very useful, when growing edible plants it is recommended do not use them. So do not hesitate to fertilize them with herbivorous animal manure, guano, worm castings, mulch, compost or others. so that the land is excellent for your crops.
What types of organic fertilizers are there?
Control pests with organic products
Pests can cause more than one headache. How to avoid them? To do this, the plants must be properly watered and fertilized, but also it is advisable to do preventive treatments against pests. For example, placing traps, such as the chromatic ones that attract aphids or whiteflies among others, or treating them with insecticidal oil in early spring.
This is especially important if you live in an area where it rains little, or where it can go several months without rain. Pure, uncontaminated rainwater is best for plants, so do not hesitate to have outdoor buckets to collect it; And if you have a well or cistern, leave it open. Then, you can store it in bottles or carafes.
How to store rainwater for irrigation
Dig furrows for the water to water the plants well
And not just to be watered, but also so that you can save water. In a garden, the furrows are very important, as long as they are dug next to the plants. In addition, if your land tends to flood, you can do them in such a way that the water is directed to a specific point, for example, to the plants that want more water. This will not fix the problem (for this, you should have some drainage system), but it will help you not have to worry about irrigation or crops, at least not too much .
Crop rotation is a very interesting practice, since there are plants that absorb a large amount of nutrients, but there are others that do just the opposite: they fix them. Such is the case of legumes, which fix nitrogen to the soil.
What is and what is crop rotation used for?
Windbreak hedges plant
Be they shrubs or trees, or a combination of both, if in your area the wind tends to blow frequently and / or forcefully, your plants will greatly benefit from a hedge to protect them. And it is that the wind dries the earth, something that will make you consume more water by having to water more, and also can damage the plants themselves. To avoid it, it is interesting to have a hedge of this style, for example laurel, pitosporo, or viburnum.
Did you find it interesting?