Sustainable Agriculture Some thoughts….
Sustainability is…. • … providing for the NEEDS of ALL people alive today, without jeopardizing future generations.
Wants and Needs • There is a difference between human wants and human needs. • Gandhi said that the world could surely provide for the needs of the many but not the greed of the few.
A sustainable form of agriculture must be…. Economically viable Environmentally sound Socially just
The Sustainability Triangle Social Equity The quest for sustainability Economic Environmental Vitality Integrity
UMass Sustainable Ag Class PLNTSOIL 265 – Fall Semester
Environmental Sustainability • Biological fertilizer • Integrated Pest Management • Renewable energy
Biological fertilizer green manures for fertility
Biological fertility Got Earthworms?
Biological fertility Animalscycle nutrients
Ecological Insect Management Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Renewable Energy Biodiesel fuel
More Progress on Environmental Sustainability • Compost for fertility • Pastures to feed animals & soil • Cover crops used • Legumes for nitrogen • Windbreaks • Conservation tillage
What about economic sustainability? Are you in debt? Are you making a profit?
Borrow or repair? Keeping up with the neighbors
More Progress with Economic Sustainability 1. Equipment is used and repaired 2. Yields are good 3. CSA provides money for investment 4. Interns can trade work for education 5. Farm supports other farm businesses 6. No waste
Sustainable farming…. …involve the neighbors!
It takes a village…. Community Supported Agriculture
Farm meetings…. ….involve the kids!
More Progress with Social Sustainability 1. Donate food to the Food Bank 2. Working with apprentices 3. Pleasant environment 4. Healthy employees 5. Vacation time for family 6. Simple living 8. No machine noise 9. Farm products stay local 10. Supports neighbors
So what’s not sustainable about agriculture today? Well, lets ask • There is plenty of food - isn’t there? • We’ve cleaned up the environment - haven’t we? • Farming is hard work – nobody really wants to farm - do they? • There will always be enough food for me - won’t there?
Is agriculture economically viable? Well…. 1935 – 6.8 million farms Today – 2.1 million farms with 1.3 million part time McDonalds increased from 1000 restaurants in 1968 to 28,000 today, with 5 new ones each day The suicide rate among farmers and ranchers is 3X national average
Is it environmentally sound? Well… Chemical fertilizer use has increased 10X since 1950 The Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico from nitrogen fertilizer
Is it socially just? Farm workers Health care Meatpacking plant workers Injury rates Fast food workers 3.5 million with a turnover rate of 300-400%/yr
And – lets look at the future … • Population • Water • Soil • Oil
Water Shortages Today • Major global problem areas
Water Shortages in the US We are pumping down geological water reserves which are not being replaced. Agriculture consumes about 85% of fresh water in the U.S.
Soil is running away! • About 75% of US topsoil has already been lost. • If you stepped from the original prairie to an Iowa corn field today, it would be a 6 foot step down.
And the big one! • Humankind expends in one year an amount of fossil fuel that it took nature roughly a million years to produce.
Is that all? • No, but its enough to make the point. The way we grow food in the United States is not sustainable.
We are a non-sustainable society • Food production, land use, water use etc. are part of a larger problem affecting every aspect of our lives, including: • Energy use • Waste handling • Pollution • Population • and on and on…..
But how do I know if its sustainable? Ask…. • Is it cyclic? and…. • Is it solar powered • Is it equitable?
Is it cyclic? • One way ticket! Dig it up Use it up Dump it out
Pollution, Waste and Environmental Disturbances Natural Resources Goods and Services This “seems” normal
The limits are to… • Both the source and the sink! Source is limited Sink is limited
The answer is cyclic systems! • A roundtrip ticket! Send it back Dig it up Use it Use it again Waste = food
Two paradigms (mental models) • Industrial Agriculture = linear • Sustainable Agriculture = cyclic