Sustainable Agriculture

We can now look to see what it means to be sustainable in terms of agriculture.  Like every other industry, it is important to sustain the business aspect of agriculture.  We want to produce food and bio-products long into the future.  Of course, that means we want farm communities to be sustainable and to do that, we must take care of the land.

Sustainable agriculture according to Wikipedia is:

“… farming in sustainable ways based on an understanding of ecosystem services, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment.  It has been defined as ‘an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term.’” (Wikipedia 2016)

This definition very closely parallels the general definition of sustainability in that it recognizes the importance of the environment (ecosystem services); it depends on relationships among different characteristics of the production process, and it focuses on the long term.  Sustainable agriculture is important for many reasons.  Without food and other products, society would not be able to sustain itself.  And because agriculture depends on soil productivity, water resources and the climate, the availability of energy, and many other environmental factors, it is imperative that we don’t damage the environment.

3_oecd_linkThe Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conducts a lot of research on agriculture with a special focus on sustainability.  Their website discusses the importance of water, green growth, biodiversity and climate change, just to name a few topics. If you click on the OECD logo, you will be directed to the site where you can download many interesting articles about sustainable agriculture.

Source: Permission: This material has been reproduced in accordance with the University of Saskatchewan  interpretation of Sec.30.04 of the Copyright Act.

You might be wondering why sustainability matters, especially if you are an Ag-Biz major, or if you’re interested in soil chemistry, or animal husbandry for example.  Regardless of the agriculture topic you will focus on, you will have to make decisions that affect the profitability of longevity of the business you work for (or your own business), the environment, and ultimately the people around you.  We sometimes think only in the moment, but our actions often have long-term consequences.  And because we live in a world that is greatly connected through trade, decisions we make in Canada often have far-reaching effects clear across the world.