Resilience, Uncertainty, and Sustainable Agriculture

Resilience, Uncertainty, and Sustainable Agriculture

By Ryan Grist

In recent years, much focus in agriculture has shifted to sustainability. By definition, there are three main components to sustainability: environmental, social, and economic. Many farmers, ranchers, and consumers are interested in sustainable agriculture because of the emphasis on ecological and regenerative farm management practices, as well as economic stability and social well-being. However, in the world’s current state of economic, political, social, and environmental uncertainty, it is important to also include the concept of resiliency in our definition of sustainable agriculture. What is our ability to adapt to unforeseen change?

Agriculture is a significant contributor to global warming and the ongoing environmental crisis. In an incredibly short time period, just over 50 years, we have seen major depletion of top soil, pollution, water contamination, desertification, deforestation, and pesticide, antibiotic, and pest resistance, only to name a few. Additionally, agriculture’s heavy use of fossil fuel for synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides, machinery operation, and transportation, contributes significantly to the rising levels of C02 in the atmosphere.

It is also important to recognize that every major agricultural civilization has been built upon fertile topsoil, and many have fallen due to environmental degradation and destruction of agricultural land. Increasing awareness of these issues brings up an important question: For how long can our current modes of producing food be sustained?

Wheat Field Near Sunset

The current state of environmental health makes obvious that much of our future depends on the role of agriculture in environmental regeneration, conservation, sufficient food production, human health, and economic stability. Providing sustainable solutions to agricultural challenges and shifting our focus from maximum yields and externalized costs, to a closed-loop energy cycle and true cost system could have a beneficial effect on mitigating climate change and environmental degradation.

There is still, however, significant doubt about the potential of small-scale, locally based sustainable agriculture, and thus the question often arises: Can it “feed the world”?

The short answer is yes; a sustainable agricultural system is truly the only way to “feed the world” because it is the only system able to be sustained far into the future.

First, we must recognize that our current agricultural production system is heavily reliant on a finite source of energy – fossil fuel – which is inherently unsustainable. Scientists have now identified peak oil, and fossil fuels are predicted to become increasingly expensive as resources dwindle, conflict arises, and environmental destruction increases. How can such a system feed the world if it can’t sustain itself? With such a reliance on a single source of energy, what is the ability of the current agricultural production system to adapt to change?

Additionally, sustainable agriculture is only recently growing in popularity as research and application begins to catch up with conventional agriculture. Since the green revolution, much agricultural research has been conducted in land grant universities focused on conventional methods of production. Lack of funding and support has led farmers to do research and conduct experiments on sustainable agriculture on their own. As agricultural research is shifting, the potential for sustainable agriculture is becoming more obvious.

However, the shift from a primarily conventional agricultural system to a sustainable system will be a slow and difficult process. Resiliency must be accounted for and discussed as farmers and ranchers transition management practices. If an environmental catastrophe strikes, how will our farmers adapt? What resources and tools do our farmers need to withstand changing climatic patterns? What kind of local community base do our farmers have for support in uncertain times?

Cattle Grazing Under Power Lines

Understanding and creating resilience in every aspect of agriculture will allow the U.S. and entire global population to develop agricultural methods and policies that foster the ability to change, withstand, adapt to, and creatively utilize challenge and catastrophe in order to sustain necessary agricultural production.

Inevitably, the future will bring unforeseen change. In a world of increasingly unpredictable climatic patterns, economic instability, and social and political disparities, it is the duty of farmers, policy makers, consumers, and citizen activists to support and foster resilient methods of sustainable agriculture.

Ryan Grist is an intern at Matheson Farms from Fairhaven College at Western Washington University. He is a student in the sustainable agriculture program and is originally from Wisconsin.

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World Agriculture Must Become More Sustainable

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.
World Agriculture Must Become More Sustainable

 

World Agriculture Must Become More Sustainable

By Tim Johnson

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.

Tim Johnson Junior is a freelance writer, CRWA certified resume writer and career coach. Has written over 2000 articles and essays on the subject of Social Issues. Has worked for Essaymart’s custom writing department from 2003 to 2005. Currently, Tim is busy helping professionals and executives optimize their careers at a certified Resume Writing firm, ResumeAid.

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US Cattle Farmers Adopt Eco-Friendly Methods

US Cattle Farmers Adopt Eco-Friendly Methods

Holistic herding was first developed in Africa more than 40 years ago

Erika Celeste | Hardwick, Massachusetts

Massachusetts beef farmer Ridge Shinn uses holistic herding to reduce his carbon footprint.

Photo: VOA – E. Celeste
Massachusetts beef farmer Ridge Shinn uses holistic herding to reduce his carbon footprint.

Concerns about the climate-changing effects of carbon dioxide, or CO2, emissions in the United States have focused attention not just on big industrial polluters and automobile exhaust, but also on agriculture.

Farming and ranching contribute six percent of the country’s annual CO2 emissions. Beef production accounts for a third of that, which is roughly equal to the exhaust from 24 million cars. To lower these emissions, many American cattle farmers are adopting an environmentally-friendly ranching system first developed in Africa more than 40 years ago.

Holistic herding

Massachusetts beef farmer Ridge Shinn is using a time-tested agricultural model known as holistic herding, which he says helps cut his farm’s carbon emissions by putting CO2 back where it came from; in the soil.

“What we’ve discovered is that you actually sequester huge amounts of carbon by grazing correctly,” says Shinn.

Holistic herding was developed in the 1970s by Allan Savory, a biologist and game warden-turned-rancher in what is now Zimbabwe. While observing herd animals, such as buffalo, deer, and antelope, Savory noticed how they naturally move to new grazing areas daily, unlike domesticated animals, which are typically penned in the same pasture for months at a time.

As a result, the domestic herds denude the land of CO2-absorbing plants and churn up the ground with their hooves, releasing soil-sequestered carbon in the process.

Shinn says he’s preventing that kind overgrazing by employing Savory’s holistic herding system on a section of pasture.

“What we do instead is we take that same 50 animals and put them on a very small part of that 50 acres for one day. And then, the next day, we move them off that one acre. So, that acre is now resting and by the time we get around the whole 50 acres, you know, putting them on an acre a day, 50 days have passed and this piece of ground has had a chance to rest and reinvigorate.”

Building on nature

Holistic herding builds on nature’s carbon cycle. Soil needs carbon to help create the rich nutrients essential for healthy plant life. When herd animals roam through an area, they graze down the vegetation. Their hooves act as tillers for dead and decomposing plants. Their manure and methane waste act as fertilizers to help grow more vegetation. Pasture plants such as clover and grasses help to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. And so the cycle continues.

Philip Metzger, with the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, says holistic herding can prevent the serious reductions in farm output caused by overgrazing.

“You can see it in agriculture today as we’re having to put more and more inputs into the soil to get the same yields,” says Metzger. “That’s because we have reduced organic matter, in many cases by 50 percent, so that soil now has much less holding capacity for water and nutrients.”

Speeding regeneration

Metzger says holistic herding can also speed the regeneration of badly overgrazed soils in just three to four years, compared to the decades it can take if the land is simply left fallow.

The results with holistic herding have been so positive over the years that developer Allan Savory was awarded the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award, a privately-sponsored $100,000 prize to honor strategies that help to solve humanity’s most pressing problems. The award cited Savory’s Operation Hope, a program that trains African communities to practice holistic herding. The method has also proved popular with ranchers in Australia, New Zealand, and with agricultural extension services across the United States.

U.S. ranchers like Shinn are passionate advocates of the system. “It’s amazing. It’s so optimistic that you can change a whole biological system that quickly by applying the herbivores correctly. It’s a complex story but it’s very exciting.”

In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, holistic herding also requires less land because cattle are kept together in a series of adjacent fenced paddocks, instead of being left to roam over large, unmanageable areas. And sheep, goats and other large livestock can also be grazed this way.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture hopes new federal farm legislation due next year will include incentives for U.S. ranchers to adopt holistic herding practices, encouraging them not only to reduce overgrazing but also to shrink agriculture’s big carbon footprint.

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Carbon Sequestration and Holistic Management

This post is compliments of Raincrow Film LLC (aka Raincrow Farm Video)
Every week www.raincrowfilm.com  will post a new interview short! In the next few weeks they will be highlighting Brian Marshall, a Holistic Management educator from Guyra, NSW, Australia.

Can Cattle Save the Planet?

Most industrialized nations agree to reduce 80% of carbon emissions—but not until 2050! By most accounts, too little too late. Brian Marshall takes on this problem through the eyes of a land manager, rancher and Holistic Management educator and proposes grazing, grasslands and carbon sequestration must be a part of the equation.

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Benefits of Urban Agriculture


By Michelle Q Ching

Urban agriculture is now being embraced and enjoyed by a lot of urbanites across the world today. People living in the city love it because they could enjoy gardening and farming right at the comforts of their own homes – be it on their backyards or their condominium’s balcony. Before, when we say farming, we’ll all think of vast plains full of crops and animals. But now, as long as you have enough space, you could start your very own farm.

There are a lot of benefits that we can get from urban agriculture. Aside from sparing yourself from the hassle of traveling to a real farm to enjoy the whole farming experience, urban agriculture is known to be therapeutic. Many people say that gardening is an effective way to relax and release stress. It gives them inner peace and it makes them feel one with nature. Gardening is also an enjoyable activity to do. Isn’t it fun to watch your plants and produce grow beautifully? Getting your hands dirty with the soil and everything may be also enjoyable. Another benefit is that you could actually earn money from it. You could sell your excess produce to your friends or neighbors to earn extra cash.

Urban farming is a very enjoyable and rewarding activity that all people should try. It offers a lot of benefits that you could take advantage of. So what are you waiting for? Head on to your nearest garden store and start your very own farm at home. Happy gardening!

AeroFarms delivers aeroponic technology and comprehensive business expertise to help you grow your bottom line and pioneer the future of vertical farming and urban agriculture.

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Community Supported Agriculture – A Direct Relationship Between Consumers and Farmers

Community Supported Agriculture – A Direct Relationship Between Consumers and Farmers
By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Cameron_Terzini]Cameron Terzini

Community Supported Agriculture, otherwise simply know as CSA, is gaining popularity throughout the country. A CSA is a direct relationship between the consumer and the farmer. A CSA farm offers shares to the general community. An individual can purchase, in advance, a weekly allotment of the farms crop production. Typically this will be in the form of picked up or delivered box of assorted vegetables. Some farm CSA’s will include other farm products as well.

Purchasing a CSA share or membership is the ultimate way to support local farming in your community. When a farmer is able to sell his or her products in advance to the local community before the season starts, the inherent unpredictability of farming is somewhat reduced. If a certain crop fails all of the CSA members share in the loss, not just the farmer. In the same light, if certain crop does exceptionally well all share holders benefit. The farmer also benefits from the advanced crop sales by having all his marketing efforts completed before the growing season starts. This allows the farmer to focus on the actual farm work that is needed throughout the growing season to ensure a productive season.

As a CSA share holder you will gain many benefits. Nothing can get fresher then food right from a farm. Many CSA shares are picked up or delivered on the very same day the crop is picked. A share holder gains the peace of mind coming from knowing who and where there food is grown. The amount and variety of your share will change from week to week so a member will be exposed to new local vegetables. A share holder can feel good knowing that there food dollars are staying in the area instead of supporting a far away economy. http://bellafarmsny.com

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Biopesticides Can Contribute to the Need For Innovation in Sustainable Agriculture

By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Ali_Withers]Ali Withers

Researchers and scientists’ efforts to devise new and more sustainable farming methods are a response to pressure from retailers and consumers for healthier, chemical free food. Financial pressures have also increased on farmers all over the world, whether they are small producers or large agribusinesses, leading to a search for ways to increase their land’s productivity. Up to an estimated one third of global agricultural production is destroyed by more than 20,000 species of field and storage pests. Worries about food scarcity add to the mix as the planet’s population continues to grow.

All this takes place in the context of growing concern about the environment, about the effects via our food of excessive chemical fertiliser use on our own health and on the quality of the land we all depend on. In a way it’s irrelevant whether the motivator is fear, finance or famine or whether it’s based on ethics, concern for the planet and for inequalities between peoples.

It’s unfortunate that it’s human nature that we are prompted to innovation only when situations reach near-crisis point but it’s also encouraging that once we’ve reached that point human ingenuity can, if it tries, come up with solutions.

The result is a greater openness to innovation in the research and development of agricultural products for pest and disease control, yield improvements and sustainable farming.

This has given rise to a new approach to tackling pests and diseases which includes biological control, integrated pest management and biotechnology.

The approach stresses a more ecologically aware, whole system approach based on the study of population biology at the local farm level. It involves using a combination of science, renewable technologies such as host-plant resistance and natural biological control, which can be made available to even the most resource-poor farmers.

Take birds, for example. To a flock of hungry birds a ripening cornfield is an “all you can eat” free buffet. To the farmer they’re freeloaders, literally eating into his profits from the field.

However, another dimension of the whole issue of concern for the environment means we are all more sensitive to animal welfare issues so that much of the UK’s wildlife, for example, is now legally protected – leaving the farmer to find some “humane” means of protecting his livelihood from pillage!

Scarecrows don’t work all that well these days, birds gradually become immune to bird scarers and plainly guns and poisons won’t be acceptable to most people as a humane crop protection measure!

Here’s where innovation comes in – someone’s invented an acoustic hand-held device that works by broadcasting a digitally stored distress call to create a hostile environment in the problem area, which causes the birds to sense danger and fly away. It’s reported to be almost 100% effective.

In the growing emphasis on integrated pest management and a whole-system approach to controlling pests and increasing crop production the new generations of biopesticides currently being developed can therefore also be seen as an innovative new way of providing the agricultural products farmers and growers need for pest and disease control, yield enhancement and preserving their land’s quality.

Biopesticides are generally specific to the pest or disease they’re designed to deal with and replace the toxic chemicals used in the past with more sophisticated biologically based agents. They are derived from natural materials like animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals.

They also remain in the crop and the soil for a shorter time so there is less risk of contamination of subsoil and water and they do not on the whole lead to the development of higher levels of resistance as the previous generation of chemical pest control agents did.

There are obstacles, of course. They’re expensive to produce and have a smaller market because they are pest and location-specific. There is not yet a globally-agreed system of testing and registration for these new products and they can therefore take up to seven or eight years to come onto the market.

The question is whether we can be equally innovative in removing the obstacles to getting on with a job that is plainly urgent.

Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers

Humans only come up with innovative solutions when their backs are against the wall. Consumer journalist [http://www.multimediareputations.com]Ali Withers asks whether pressure from consumers and therefore retailers for healthier, chemical-free foods, pressure on farmers to grow more and pressure on the environment have reached the critical mass needed to think outside the box and come up with better solutions to pest and disease control in agriculture – such as [http://www.agraquest.com]biopesticides?

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Biopesticides-Can-Contribute-to-the-Need-For-Innovation-in-Sustainable-Agriculture&id=4125704] Biopesticides Can Contribute to the Need For Innovation in Sustainable Agriculture

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Have A Happy Holiday

Sustainable Ag Resource wishes you a very happy holiday season. We hope you will take time from your busy schedule to spend time with family and friends as well as to pause and enjoy those special moments in life and in nature around us.

Sincerely,
Sandra Matheson

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9 Ways to Avoid Genetically Modified Food

By Laurel Avery

It is estimated that about 75 percent of processed foods sold in the U.S. contain at least some genetically modified food ingredients. Unlike many other countries, there is no law in the U.S. requiring the labeling of foods that contain GM ingredients, but if you know how to identify which foods are most commonly genetically modified, you can reduce how many GMOs you eat. Following are some tips on how you can avoid them:

1. Buy foods labeled “100% organic.” Laws in both the U.S. and Canada do not allow food labels that say “100% organic” to contain any genetically engineered food, including animals that have been fed genetically modified feed. Be aware, however, that if the food is simply labeled “organic” it can still contain genetically modified ingredients up to 30%.

2. Look for the labels “non-GM” or “GMO-free.” These can be hard to find, but if you re able to support manufacturers that produce foods that are not genetically engineered you encourage other manufacturers to follow their lead.

3. Buy whole, fresh foods rather than processed ones. Foods that you cook and prepare yourself are almost always healthier than anything you can buy ready-made. And cooking healthy food doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. There are many simple but delicious and healthy meals that you can prepare in less than 30 minutes that do not involve any genetically modified food.

4. Know which foods and the products that are made from them are most likely to have been the result of genetic engineering. For example:

Corn – The ingredient derived from corn that is hardest to avoid is high fructose corn syrup. A huge percentage of processed foods and baked goods contains it, not to mention soda. Any food with a label saying there is corn of any kind in it should be avoided unless it states it is 100% organic. Popcorn is an exception, as there is currently no popcorn on the market that is genetically modified.
Soybeans – Products made from soybeans include soy flour, soy isolates, soy lecithin, soy protein and isoflavones. Be sure that soy based products such as tofu, soy milk, edamame and such have a label stating it is organic to be sure it isn’t genetically modified.
Canola or Rapeseed – Made from the rapeseed plant, canola oil almost certainly is derived from genetically engineered crops, unless you are located in the EU, where no genetically modified crops of rapeseed are yet grown. You find it used mostly as cooking oil and in margarine, and though it is high in monounsaturated fat, it is not a healthy oil to use regularly due to its high levels of omega-6 fatty acids and because it goes rancid easily when heated. Olive oil is a better choice.
Cottonseed oil – Cottonseed oil is a primary ingredient in shortening, vegetable oil and margarine, none of which are healthy fats, and many of which contain trans fats. It is also used to a great extent in processed foods like potato chips and other fried snack foods.
Dairy – Some farmers inject cows with the genetically engineered hormone rBGH or rBST in order to boost milk production. Cows also may be fed genetically modified food in the form of grain and alfalfa unless the milk specifically states that it is organic. Look for products that advertise themselves as rBGH- or rBST-free.
Sugar beets – There is unfortunately no way of knowing if something labeled as containing “sugar” comes from just sugar cane or if it also includes sugar made from beets, since there is no special labeling required. Beet sugar can be avoided by buying products labeled as being made with evaporated cane sugar, 100% cane sugar or organic sugar.

5. Avoid aspartame as a sweetener. The sweetener used in products such as NutraSweet and Equal, Aspartame is derived from genetically modified microorganisms. Any artificial sweetener is usually worse for your health than sugar, and should be avoided whenever possible.

6. Buy 100% fruit juices. Though most fruit juices are not derived from GM foods, the sweetener used in many of these juices (and sodas as well) is high fructose corn syrup, which is almost certainly from genetically modified corn.

7. Ensure your produce is not genetically modified by reading the number on the sticker.

A 4-digit number indicates the food was conventionally grown and may or may not be genetically modified.
A 5-digit number beginning with an 8 is a genetically modified food. However, not all GM foods can be identified because PLU labeling is optional.
A 5-digit number beginning with a 9 indicates it is organic, and thus a non-GM food.

8. Buy meat that is 100% grass-fed. Most cattle in the U.S. are grass-fed until the last three to four months of their lives. At this point they are usually shipped to feedlots where they may be given GM corn and other genetically modified foods in order to increase the amount of “marbling” in the meat. Meat from these feedlot animals has higher levels of saturated fat and less of the healthy omega 3 fatty acids than grass-fed and grass-finished animals.

To avoid meat that has been fed GMOs, make sure the animal was 100% grass-fed or pasture-fed (sometimes also referred to as grass-finished or pasture-finished). For animals such as pigs and poultry that cannot be 100% grass-fed, it’s better to buy meat that is labeled as 100% organic.

Wild caught fish are better than farm raised, as farm raised fish are fed fish meal containing GM grains and sometimes meat and bone meal. Eggs should be labeled 100% organic, as those with only a “free-range,” “natural,” or “cage-free” label are not necessarily free of GMOs.

9. Buy your meat and produce at local farmers’ markets. Most genetically modified food is grown on large industrial farms. The farmers’ market allows you to talk directly with the farmer to find out how the food was grown. These markets also usually provide a range of other products, such as organic honey, grains, baked goods, etc. You could also join a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm where you receive a box of fresh, seasonal produce every week during the growing season. Another place to find healthy, non-GMO products is your neighborhood co-op.

Laurel Avery, DiHom, is a homeopath who became interested in natural health and the positive effects of healthy eating after moving to Europe from her native U.S. She now devotes her time to helping expose the dangers of genetically modified food and helping others learn how to achieve vibrant health through their diet.

For more about healthy eating and how you can easily cook delicious meals for yourself and your family, visit http://www.natural-health-guide.com .

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The Increased Availability of Farm Grown Healthy Food and Sustainable Agriculture

by Frank Dalotto

Healthy food is the result of sustainable agriculture systems that are farming methods and processes geared to the growth, harvesting, and delivery of healthy food to the consumer while taking environmentally safe agriculture measures.

The new generation of Americans are more aware of the harmful chemical additives and environmental threats of traditional or commercial methods of factory farming and food production. Along with the need to feed themselves and their kids healthy food, this knowledge is bringing about change in the food buying habits and diet of Americans.

Much of the food we find at today’s supermarkets are grown, processed and sold with harmful chemical food additives. These additives change the way food tastes, looks, and increases the food’s shelf life.

To maximize profitability and production, large commercial farms feed animals low doses of antibiotics for faster growth. This contributes to a national health issue of the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans.

Large factory farms without sustainable systems often have harmful pesticides, fertilizers, and anti-biotic by products that finds it way into ground water, rivers, and streams. These harmful residues lead to the contamination of aquatic ecosystems and drinking water.

While there is an increasing awareness and corresponding increase in sustainable farming, there is also the need for large factory farms to maximize food production and profitability. In response to this demand by the large commercial factory farms, many of the world’s largest chemical corporations are shifting out of commodity petrochemicals into Agricultural Biotechnology. Since 1996, Monsanto and Hoechst (Germany) have changed their business plans by spinning off its industrial chemicals business and has since made huge investments in acquiring seed and agricultural biotechnology companies.

Sustainable Agriculture Systems are geared to the production of healthy and environmentally safe farming and food products.

It includes a number of requirements: The fertility of the soil being continuously maintained and improved; The availability and quality of water being protected and enhanced; The protection of bio diversity for farms, farm workers, and all other factors in food production chain; and programs to minimize the impact on the environment concerning the discharge of waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

While there is no widely recognized body for certification of Sustainable Food and Agriculture systems, the other components, Organic and Bio Dynamic Food and Agriculture systems have certification standards.

Certified Organic Food is the result farming without the application of harmful pesticides, artificial fertilizers, contamination by human or industrial waste, ionizing radiation, food additives, and not be genetically modified. Where livestock is grown, they must be free of antibiotics and without the use of growth hormones.

Bio Dynamic Food production is a more stringent level of food production than organic farming. It is both a philosophy and art form of agriculture.

The Demeter Association, with branches around the world, is the certification body for bio dynamic farming. Its certification standards are the highest level of sustainable farming achieving one of the smallest carbon footprints of any agricultural method.

Bio dynamics takes a systems approach to agriculture farming where each farm component or action is viewed in total as it affects the others. The systems approach includes the use of bio dynamic sprays, retention of nutrients, crop rotation designs, weed control, plant pests, and the recycling of organic wastes and composting. For livestock production, it includes animal nutrition, the disposition of animal wastes; the mix and rotation of animal species on pastures to maximize grazing patterns and minimize pasture borne parasites.

Frank Dalotto is a freelance writer and travel consultant. His specialty is writing articles about New Jersey leisure activities and soft adventure travel. Frank is the publisher of New Jersey Leisure Guide http://www.new-jersey-leisure-guide.com and Soft Adventure Tourism http://www.soft-adventure-tourism.com

His academic credentials are:
MBA, Pace University
BSEE, University of Missouri

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