Agriculture information for online study; you can learn about agriculture and related subjects, self-study and e-Learning courses about agriculture.
Agriculture, Crops, Livestock
Agriculture is cultivation of the land and breeding of plants and animals to provide food, fiber, medicinal plants and other products to sustain and enhance life. Crops are living plants grown by farmers. Most crops are foods such as grain, vegetables, or fruit. Some crops are for drugs, such as quinine, or fibers such as cotton, or other materials such as rubber or wood. Farms are usually made to grow just one kind of crop. Livestock is farm of animals that are raised to generate a profit. Cows that are raised on a farm and sold for meat are an example of livestock. Livestock farming is the rearing of animals for food and for other human uses. The word Livestock used primarily to cattle or dairy cows, pigs, horses, sheep, chickens, and goats. The other animals like donkeys, mules, rabbits and insects such as bees are also part of livestock farming.
Top Producing Countries
It probably won't surprise readers that China is the leading worldwide producer of rice, but it's also the leading producer of wheat and the number two producer of corn, as well as the largest producer of many vegetables including onions and cabbage.
Agriculture Exports (in billions)
% of Global Exports
50.1% ($9.1 billion)
9.2% ($6.6 billion)
51% ($10.4 billion)
34.5% ($6 billion)
50.5% ($16.5 billion)
Australia, Canada and France are top leading in the list. These countries are the leading exporters of livestock’s to all over the world. The value of export of these animals for each of the country was more than $1.5 billion USD in the year 2018 that was higher than rest of the countries across the globe.
Export Value 2018 (USD)
The livestock’s industry is one of the most worth full industry in the world. The index of livestock’s increasing day by day.
Types of Farming
The scale below provides an indication of how recent the phenomenon of farming is:
The world was formed: ca 4, 600 million years ago.
Eukaryotic life forms: ca. 1,000 million years ago
First hominid life forms: 4 million years ago (hunter gatherers)
First human farmers: about 12,000 years ago.
Global Agricultural Evolution: 1650 – 1850 AD
Modern Agricultural Evolution: 1950 – present
Some of the food gathering mechanisms utilized by hunter-gatherer societies were relatively advanced.
In such conditions of trial-and-error experimentation and manipulation of species, the scene was set for the domestication of plants and animals. In addition, these hunter-gatherer societies probably paved the way for domestication by developing:
- Social structure (promote cooperation)
- Knowledge of cultivation techniques
- Specialization on particular plant/animal foods
First Human Farmers
It was not until after 9500 BC that the eight so-called founder crops of agriculture appear: first emmer and einkorn wheat, then hulled barley, peas, lentils, bitter vetch, chick peas and flax. ... By 8000 BC, farming was entrenched on the banks of the River Nile.
Global Agricultural Evolution
Lasting Effects of the Agricultural Revolution. The Agricultural Revolution of the 18th century paved the way for the Industrial Revolution in Britain. New farming techniques and improved livestock breeding led to amplified food production. This allowed a spike in population and increased health.
Modern Agricultural Evolution
Modern food systems face the growing challenges of climate variability, population growth, and ever-changing consumer preferences. Digital agriculture has emerged as a way of feeding the world sustainably using technologies and data science to optimize on-farm production and supply chains that are responsive to real-time consumer demand.
And in stark contrast to the previous revolutions in agriculture, this digital movement is going to dramatically shorten, not lengthen, the cognitive distance between producers and consumers. I find this aspect a tremendously exciting development.
Livestock’s Type and Modern Breeding
Livestock farming, rising of animals for use or for pleasure. The discussion of livestock includes beef and dairy mules, goat, horses, sheep’s, hens, pigs, asses, buffalo, and camels, the commercially birds for meat or eggs (i.e., chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and squabs) is treated separately.
Ranching is a modern livestock farming organized on the pattern of industrial products in Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Argentina, and Brazil. Most of the farming process is mechanized and cultivation of fodder is done mechanically without involving the use of fertile land.
Genetic Intensification of livestock is the increase in productivity of livestock, both terrestrial and aquatic populations, with limited increase in the amount of land devoted to livestock grazing or raising. This is necessary in the face of increased demand for livestock products despite limited potential to expand grazing areas.
Whilst it may seem like a modern technology, improving livestock breeds is not a new practice. Thousands of years ago, livestock were domesticated and selected for their adaption to specific climates. Production systems were improved during the 17th century, with the rise of professional farming and selective breeding of livestock. With the emergence of the field of genetics (the study of heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics) in the 20th century, a remarkable diversity and improvement of livestock occurred around the world. Towards the latter part of the century, the discovery of molecular genetics and genomics (a branch of molecular biology concerned with the mapping of genomes) now offers the potential to breed livestock for specific desired traits and qualities more rapidly.
An estimated 700 million rural poor people globally depend on livestock for their livelihoods. In Africa, roughly one-half of the 300 million poor people depend on livestock which can account for 45% of household income. The ‘livestock revolution’ or the rapidly increasing demand for livestock products may offer opportunities for improving their incomes and livelihoods. However, several challenges such as climate change, land degradation, water shortages and emerging diseases necessitate improvements in livestock breeding to meet global food demand.
Population growth and an increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since the 1971 have caused meat consumption to triple worldwide from 1981 to 2004. This demand is now led by developing countries, where the total meat and milk consumption is expected to double between 2010 and 2050. Meeting this increased demand for meat can be achieved by increasing livestock numbers significantly—but not without enormous environmental and production impacts—or by increasing the production efficiency per animal.
Recently, increases in livestock breeding efficiency have been accomplished in developed countries through the improved use of genetics and more recently genomics such that whole genome single sequences can be identified or ‘genotyped’ using microsatellite loci. Today, processes such as genomic selection are being applied to traits such as milk production in cattle and feed efficiency in chickens, cattle and pigs and could eventually be applied for traits such as methane production in cattle. However, these processes carry high costs and expertise requirements and therefore producers and consumers in the developed world have accrued most of the benefits. There is an urgency to develop similar marker aided selection (MAS) for use in developing countries.
Livestock breeding consists of several different approaches. Cross breeding refers to the process of breeding with the intention to create offspring that share the traits of both parent lineages or to produce an animal with hybrid vigor (the improved or increased function of any biological quality in a hybrid offspring). Artificial insemination (AI) is the deliberate introduction of sperm into a female’s uterus or cervix to achieve a pregnancy. Embryo transfer is the process of assisted reproduction in which fresh or frozen embryos are placed into the uterus of a female with the intent to establish a pregnancy.
Crossbreeding involves the mating of animals from two breeds. Normally, breeds are chosen that have complementary traits that will enhance the offspring’s’ economic value. An example is the crossbreeding of Yorkshire and Doric breeds of pigs. Yorkshires have acceptable rates of gain in muscle mass and produce large litters, and Darics are very muscular and have other acceptable traits, so these breeds are complementary. Another example is Angus and Charolaise beef cattle. Angus produce high-quality beef and Charolaise are especially large, so crossbreeding produces an animal with acceptable quality and size.
The other consideration in crossbreeding is heterocyst, or hybrid vigor, which is displayed when the offspring performance exceeds the average performance of the parent breeds. This is a common phenomenon in which increased size, growth rate, and fertility are displayed by crossbred offspring, especially when the breeds are more genetically dissimilar. Such increases generally do not increase in successive generations of crossbred stock, so purebred lines must be retained for crossbreeding and for continual improvement in the parent breeds. In general, there is more hetaeras for traits with low heritability. In particular, heterocyst is thought to be associated with the collective action of many genes having small effects individually but large effects cumulatively. Because of hybrid vigor, a high proportion of commercial pork and beef come from crossbred animals.
Mating animals that are related causes inbreeding. Inbreeding is often described as “narrowing the genetic base” because the mating of related animals results in offspring that have more genes in common. Inbreeding is used to concentrate desirable traits. Mild inbreeding has been used in some breeds of dogs and has been extensively used in laboratory mice and rats. For example, mice have been bred to be highly sensitive to compounds that might be detrimental or useful to humans. These mice are highly inbred so that researchers can obtain the same response with replicated treatments.
Inbreeding is generally detrimental in domestic animals. Increased inbreeding is accompanied by reduced fertility, slower growth rates, greater susceptibility to disease, and higher mortality rates. As a result, producers try to avoid mating related animals. This is not always possible, though, when long-continued selection for the same traits is practiced within a small population, because parents of future generations are the best candidates from the last generation, and some inbreeding tends to accumulate. The rate of inbreeding can be reduced, but, if inbreeding depression becomes evident, some method of introducing more diverse genes will be needed. The most common method is some form of crossbreeding.
Some major points of Livestock’s breeding
A: One Health (health and safety of animals and humans);
Safeguarding human and animal health, related to livestock production. This comprises more than food safety, it includes eradication of infectious animal and zoonotic diseases emerging from livestock farming and transports; and mitigation of the consequences of the use of antibiotics, such as the development of microbe resistance to antibiotics.
B: Customized Care (from the perspective of the integrity of the animal);
Ensuring robustness, dignity and integrity of the production animal. This comprises more than compliance to human standards for animal welfare aspects, it includes respecting the specific biological traits and requirements of individual animals in the group, resulting in observed good animal welfare on farm.
C: No Nuisance (with regard for environmental and societal perspectives);
Avoiding exposure of the environment to critical emissions of waste materials: i.e. dust, noise, malodors or pathogens originating from the livestock production systems; including the sustainable management of natural resources, biodiversity and prevention of land degradation.
D: Credible Performance (from a socio-economic perspective);
Guaranteeing a responsible and trustworthy livestock production sector with sound perspectives for farmers in local, national, regional or global food production chains.
Livestock’s Generation Selection
Methods of selection
Types of selection are individual or mass selection, within and between family selection, sibling selection, and progeny testing, with many variations. Within family selection uses the best individual from each family for breeding. Between family selections uses the whole family for selection. Mass selection uses records of only the candidates for selection. Mass selection is most effective when heritability is high and the trait is expressed early in life, in which case all that is required is observation and selection based on phenotypes. When mass selection is not appropriate, other methods of selection, which make use of relatives or progeny, can be used singularly or in combination. Modern technologies allow use of all these types of selection at the same time, which results in greater accuracy.
Evaluation of animals
Methods of ranking animals for breeding purposes have changed as statistical and genetic knowledge has increased. Along with increases in breeding knowledge, advancements in computing have enabled breeders to quickly and easily process routine breeding evaluations, as well as to develop research needed to rank large populations of animals. Evaluating and ranking candidates for selection depends on equating their performance record to a statistical model. A performance record (y) can be expressed as y = g + e + ε, where g stands for genetic effects, e indicates known (categorized) environmental effects, and ε indicates random environmental effects.
Accuracy of selection
In some cases the accuracy of selection for a trait can be measured using a calibrated tool or a scale. Thus, measurements of such traits can be replicated with high reliability. Alternatively, some traits are difficult to measure on an objective scale, in which case a well-designed subjective scoring method can be effective. An excellent example is hip dysplasia, a degenerative disease of the hip joints that is common in many large dog breeds. Apparently, hip dysplasia is not associated with a single allele, making its incidence very difficult to control. However, an index has been developed by radiologists that allow young dogs to be assigned a score indicating their likelihood of developing the disease as they age. In 1997 American animal geneticist E.A. Leighton reported that, in fewer than five generations of selection in a breeding experiment using these scores, the incidence of canine hip dysplasia in German shepherd dogs measured at 12 to 16 months of age had decreased from the breed average of 55 percent to 24 percent among the experimental population; in Labrador retrievers the incidence dropped from 30 to 10 percent.
Progeny testing is used extensively in the beef and dairy cattle industry to aid in evaluating and selecting stock to be bred. Progeny testing is most useful when a high level of accuracy is needed for selecting a sire to be used extensively in artificial insemination. Progeny testing programs consist of choosing the best sires and dams in the population based on an animal model evaluation, as described in the preceding section. A description of progeny testing in dairy breeding provides a good example. The best 1 to 2 percent of the cows from the population is chosen as bull mothers, and the best progeny-tested bulls are chosen to produce another generation of sires.
The parents are mated to complement any individual deficiencies. The accuracy of evaluation of bull mothers is typically about 40 percent, and of sires that produce young bulls the accuracy is more than 80 percent. This is not as high as the industry wants for bulls to be used in artificial insemination. To reach greater accuracy, the next generation of sires is mated to enough cows in the population for each sire to produce 60 to 80 progeny. After the daughters of the young sires have a production record, the young sires are evaluated, and about the best 10 percent are used extensively to produce commercial cows. Some of the progeny-tested sires will have thousands of daughters before a superior sire is found to replace them. About 70 percent of dairy cattle are bred by artificial insemination, so these sires control the genetic destiny of dairy cattle. Consistently applying this selection procedure has been very successful.
The genetic gain has been consistent over the years. The actual first-lactation milk production varies more than the sire breeding value because differences in environmental conditions affect first-lactation production, but these environmental effects have been adjusted out of the breeding value calculations. There is no indication that the rate of gain in the sire breeding values is about to reduce. This level of achievement can only be realized if artificial insemination organizations and producers work together.
Farming and Ranching
1. Agricultural Safety
Agriculture, which has high rates of fatalities and serious injuries, ranks among the most dangerous professions in the United States. Training farmers, ranchers, and tree farmers to operate machinery safely and use protective equipment correctly can help reduce the high number of accidents. His well-being of our nation’s farmers and agricultural workers is vital to strong communities and the U.S. economy. Safety training gives farm families the awareness and information they need to reduce safety hazards and protect their children who often work on the farm. Safety training enables farmers to:
- Avoid serious and fatal accidents
- Use chemical pesticides and fertilizers safely
- Reduce income lost to agricultural accidents
- Reduce incidences of chemical-related cancers
2. Agriculture Technology
Combines might have taken the harvesting job away from tractors, but tractors still do the majority of work on a modern farm. They are used to pull implements that till the ground, plant seed, or perform a number of other tasks.
Tillage implements prepare the soil for planting by loosening the soil and killing weeds or competing plants. The best-known is the plow, the ancient implement that was upgraded in 1838 by a man named John Deere. Plows are actually used less frequently in the USA today, with offset disks used instead to turn over the soil and chisels used to gain the depth needed to retain moisture.
The most common type of seeder, called a planter, spaces seeds out equally in long rows that are usually two to three feet apart. Some crops are planted by drills, which put out much more seed in rows less than a foot apart, blanketing the field with crops. Tran’s planters fully or partially automate the task of transplanting seedlings to the field. With the widespread use of plastic mulch, plastic mulch layers, trans planters, and seeders lay down long rows of plastic and plant through them automatically.
New technology and the future
The basic technology of agricultural machines has changed little through the last century. Though modern harvesters and planters may do a better job than their predecessors, the combine of today (costing about US$250,000) cuts, threshes, and separates grain in essentially the same way earlier versions had done. However, technology is changing the way that humans operate the machines, as computer monitoring systems, GPS locators, and self-steer programs allow the most advanced tractors and implements to be more precise and less wasteful in the use of fuel, seed, or fertilizer. In the foreseeable future, some agricultural machines may be made capable of driving themselves, using GPS maps and electronic sensors. Even more esoteric are the new areas of nanotechnology and genetic engineering, where submicroscopic devices and biological processes, respectively, may be used to perform agricultural tasks in unusual new ways.
Agriculture may be one of the oldest professions, but with the development and use of agricultural machinery, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of people who can be described as "farmers." Instead of every person having to work to provide food for themselves, less than two percent of the United States population today works in agriculture, yet that two percent provides considerably more food than the other 98 percent can eat. It is estimated that at the turn of the twentieth century, one farmer in the United States could feed 25 people, whereas today, that ratio is 1:130. (In a modern grain farm, a single farmer can produce cereal to feed over a thousand people.) With continuing advances in agricultural machinery, the role of the farmer will become increasingly specialized.
Traction and power
• Crawler tractor / Caterpillar tractor
• Chisel plow
• Power tiller
• Rotary tiller
• Spading machine
• Walking tractor
• Broadcast seeder (or broadcast spreader or fertilizer spreader)
• Plastic mulch layer
• Potato planter
• Seed drill
• Air seeder
• Precision drill
• Trans planter
Rice trans planter
Fertilizing and pest control
• Fertilizer spreader (see broadcast seeder)
• Manure spreader
• Center pivot irrigation
Harvesting / post-harvest
• beet harvester
• Bean harvester
• Combine harvester
• Conveyor belt
• Corn harvester
• Cotton picker
• Forage harvester (or silage harvester)
• Potato digger
• Potato harvester
• Bale mover
• Hay rake
• Hay tedder
• Front end loader
• Skid-steer loader
• Grain auger
• Feed grinder
• Grain cart
• Rock picker
3. Agricultural engineers
Agricultural engineers work in the context of agricultural production and processing and the management of natural resources. Their specialties include power systems and machinery design; structures and environmental science; and food and bioprocess engineering. They perform tasks such as planning, supervising, and managing the building of dairy effluent schemes, irrigation, drainage, and flood and water control systems. They develop ways to conserve soil and water and to improve the processing of agricultural products. In addition, they may perform environmental impact assessments and interpret research results. While agricultural engineers may develop specialties, most are involved in certain core activities. For example, most professionals design and test agricultural machinery, equipment, and parts. They may also design food storage structures and food processing plants. Some may design housing and environments for livestock.
Those interested in sustainability may provide advice on water quality and water pollution control issues. They may also plan and oversee land reclamation projects on farms. Others may be involved in agricultural waste-to-energy projects and carbon sequestration (absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soil, crops and trees).
As of October 2016, most agricultural engineers (17%) were employed in architectural, engineering and related services. 16% were employed by the federal government. Another 14% worked in food manufacturing. 13% worked in agriculture, construction, and mining machinery manufacturing. Another 6% were employed as educators.
Agricultural engineers work both indoors and outdoors. They spend time in offices creating plans and managing projects, and in agricultural settings inspecting sites, monitoring equipment, and overseeing reclamation and water management projects. These positions may involve a significant amount of travel. These engineers may also work in laboratories and classrooms. They may collaborate with others to plan and solve problems. For example, they may work with horticulturalists, agronomists, animal scientists, and geneticists.
4. Farmer Education
Traditionally, many farmers are born into family farming businesses. Their experience is gained through observation and hands-on experience from the time they're children. However, the modernization of the farming industry has made it more necessary for farmers and ranchers to receive formal education and training as well.
A potential farmer can enroll in a university or college and major in programs such as agricultural economics, agriculture, farm management, or dairy science. Students can pursue an associate's degree and take classes in animal science, conservation of natural resources, farmer science, and principles of horticulture. A bachelor's degree program may consist of courses in agricultural economics and agricultural business management.
Certificate programs in agriculture are also available and may be ideal for those already working in the field of agriculture and wishing to expand their knowledge in specific areas, such as organic farming. Courses of study may include plant diseases, organic farming, nutritional science, food quality and safety, crop development, and soil fertility.
Farmers require ongoing education to stay aware of fast-moving developments in technology, science, business management, and an array of other skills and fields that affect agricultural operations. NIFA initiatives increase farmers’ knowledge in these areas and help them adopt practices that are profitable, environmentally sound, and contribute to quality of life.
Farming students can increase their knowledge of the industry by participating in internships, which some learning institutions require. Internships give students practical, hands-on farming experience. Students may seek assistance from school advisors or faculty in locating internship opportunities. Additionally, many farmers learn their trade through on-the-job training by working with a more experienced farmer. For those who don't have a formal education, some farms offer apprenticeships to teach them the skills needed to begin a career in farming.
Look for government assistance. The Beginner Farmer and Rancher Competitive Grants Program, administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, offer inexperienced farmers an opportunity to work as an intern or apprentice. This can help prospective farmers gain experience and learn more about the farming industry.
Importance of Farmer Education
Farmers — beginning and experienced — are critical to creating rural prosperity in the United States. However, farmers face unique challenges and require education and training to ensure their success.
Training helps farmers to incorporate the latest scientific advances and technology tools into their daily operations. The results of enhancing their operations with these tools increases efficiency and can also lead to:
• Less harm to the environment
• Reduced food contamination
• Reduction of the need for water and chemicals for crops
• Increased profits
5. Organic Agriculture
There are many explanations and definitions for organic agriculture but all converge to state that it is a system that relies on ecosystem management rather than external agricultural inputs. It is a system that begins to consider potential environmental and social impacts by eliminating the use of synthetic inputs, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, veterinary drugs, genetically modified seeds and breeds, preservatives, additives and irradiation. These are replaced with site-specific management practices that maintain and increase long-term soil fertility and prevent pest and diseases.
Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.
Organic agriculture systems and products are not always certified and are referred to as "non-certified organic agriculture or products". This excludes agriculture systems that do not use synthetic inputs by default (e.g. systems that lack soil building practices and degrade land). Three different driving forces can be identified for organic agriculture:
1. Consumer or market-driven organic agriculture. Products are clearly identified through certification and labeling. Consumers take a conscious decision on how their food is produced, processed, handled and marketed. The consumer therefore has a strong influence over organic production.
2. Service-driven organic agriculture. In countries such as in the European Union (EU), subsidies for organic agriculture are available to generate environmental goods and services, such as reducing groundwater pollution or creating a more biologically diverse landscape.
3. Farmer-driven organic agriculture. Some farmers believe that conventional agriculture is unsustainable and have developed alternative modes of production to improve their family health, farm economies and/or self-reliance. In many developing countries, organic agriculture is adopted as a method to improve household food security or to achieve a reduction of input costs. Produce is not necessarily sold on the market or is sold without a price distinction as it is not certified. In developed countries, small farmers are increasingly developing direct channels to deliver non-certified organic produce to consumers. In the United States of America (USA), farmers marketing small quantities of organic products are formally exempt from certification.
The world market for organic food has grown for over 15 years. Growth of retail sales in North America is predicted to be 10 per cent to 20 per cent per year during the next few years. The retail organic food market in Canada is estimated at over $1.5 billion in 2008 and $22.9 billion in the U.S.A. in 2008. It is estimated that imported products make up over 70 per cent of the organic food consumed in Canada. Canada also exports many organic products, particularly soybeans and grains.
The Canadian Organic Farmers reported 669 certified organic farms in Ontario in 2007 with over 100,000 certified organic acres of crops and pasture land. This is an annual increase of approximately 10 per cent per year in recent years. About 48 per cent of the organic cropland is seeded to grains, 40 per cent produces hay and pasture and about five per cent for certified organic fruits and vegetables. Livestock production (meat, dairy and eggs) has also been steadily increasing in recent years.
Benefits of Organic Farming in Pakistan
Organic farming in Pakistan is basically an environmental friendly ecosystem management, which eliminates the usage of all genres of synthetic inputs. It aims to decrease the production cost to attain self-sufficiency in all the inputs of agri-products.
Organic farming helps to sustain an environmental friendly impact by avoidance of use of materials from non-renewable resources, by recycling waste, making a least or almost no usage of pesticides and insecticides, avoidance of resources causing pollution and following crop rotation.
In addition, it helps to improve the biological activity of the soil by using animal manure, green manure, and by application of biological pest control methods. Organic matter composts improve the soil health, and resultantly the health of the plants. Improved soil health resultantly aids in accelerating population of worms, fungi and related soil organisms. The land is protected from the damages caused by soil degradation, erosion and increases the input of moisture in the land.
Besides, it also helps to reduce nitrate pollution and meets the nutritional and physiological requirements of the humans. Organic agricultural techniques take into consideration the moral, religious and dietary concerns of our society. Usually, people express concerns about conventional farming techniques, which entail degradation of the environments and exploitation of natural and human resources. Organic farm produce is deemed to be lawful and clean in terms of its production, processing, packaging and trading within the social structures.
6. Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainable agriculture can be defined in many ways, but ultimately it seeks to sustain farmers, resources and communities by promoting farming practices and methods that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities. Sustainable agriculture fits into and complements modern agriculture. It rewards the true values of producers and their products. It draws and learns from organic farming. It works on farms and ranches large and small, harnessing new technologies and renewing the best practices of the past.
Sustainable farming or Sustainable agriculture helps the farmers innovate and employ recycling methods, this apart from the conventional perks of farming. A very good example of recycling in sustainable farming would be the crop waste or animal manure. The same can be transformed into fertilizers that can help enrich the soil. Another method that can be employed is crop rotation. This helps the soil maintain its nutrients and keeps the soil rich and potent. Collection of rainwater via channeling and then its utilization for irrigation is also a good example of sustainable farming practices.
Benefits of Sustainable Farming
1. Environment Preservation
2. Economic Profitability
3. Most efficient use of non-renewable resources
4. Protection of Public Health
5. Social and Economic Equity
Sustainable Farming Methods or Practices
Let us see various methods or practices of Sustainable farming in detail:
1. Make use of Renewable Energy Sources: The first and the most important practice is the use of alternate sources of energy. Use of solar, hydro-power or wind-farms is ecology friendly. Farmers can use solar panels to store solar energy and use it for electrical fencing and running of pumps and heaters. Running river water can be source of hydroelectric power and can be used to run various machines on farms. Similarly, farmers can use geothermal heat pumps to dig beneath the earth and can take advantage of earth’s heat.
2. Integrated pest management: Integrated pest management a combination pest control techniques for identifying and observing pests in the initial stages. One needs to also realize that not all pests are harmful and therefore it makes more sense to let them co-exist with the crop than spend money eliminating them. Targeted spraying works best when one need to remove specific pests only. This not only helps you to spray pest on the selected areas but will also protect wildlife from getting affected.
3. Crop Rotation: Crop rotation is a tried and tested method used since ancient farming practices proven to keep the soil healthy and nutritious. Crop rotation has a logical explanation to it – the crops are picked in a pattern so that the crops planted this season replenish the nutrients and salts from the soil that were absorbed by the previous crop cycle. For example, row crops are planted after grains in order to balance the used nutrients.
4. Avoid Soil Erosion: Healthy soil is key to a good crop. Age old techniques like tilling the land, plowing etc. still work wonders. Manure, fertilizers, cover crops etc. also help improve soil quality. Crop rotations prevent the occurrence of diseases in crops, as per studies conducted. Diseases such as crown rot and tan spot can be controlled. Also pests like sectorial, home, etc. can be eliminated by crop rotation techniques. Since diseases are crop specific, crop rotation can work wonders.
5. Crop Diversity: Farmers can grow varieties of the same crop yielding small but substantial differences among the plants. This eases financial burdening. This process is called crop diversity and its practical use is on a down slide.
6. Natural Pest Eliminators: Bats, birds, insects etc. work as natural pest eliminators. Farmers build shelter to keep these eliminators close. Ladybugs, beetles, green lacewing larvae and fly parasites all feed on pests, including aphids, mites and pest flies. These pest eliminators are available in bulk from pest control stores or farming supply shops. Farmers can buy and release them on or around the crops and let them make the farm as their home.