Sustainable agricultural practices for better farming

Sustainable agricultural is defined by three interrelated elements: economic profitability, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. 

Sustainable agricultural practices for better farmingIt is important to consider sustainability at all levels of the supply chain.  Sustainable agricultural practices can have a multiplier effect on the entire supply chain in a very complex way – positive and negative. Sustainability is a target.  Farms, however, should not expect to be sustainable.  As farming practices become more sustainable, farmers better understand the natural resources they manage and how this affects their business.

The agricultural sector is a key sector in the implementation of sustainable development.  It is clear that action must be taken in view of the general concern about the biological, ecological, economic and social aspects of the sustainability of current agricultural production systems.  Technology, innovation and mechanization have resulted in huge gains in productivity and efficiency, but at a cost to the environment. It is obvious that measures must be taken in the light of the general concern biological, ecological, economic and social aspects of sustainability of current production systems agricultural. 

Technology, innovation and mechanization have resulted in huge productivity gains and efficiency but at a cost to the environment.  Moreover, the fight for food security with Inadequate inputs and technologies in developing countries are depleting the resource base natural resources without meeting the needs. In addition, the safety of agricultural products and breeding raises growing concerns around the world.

There is a need for a rapid transition to Sustainable agricultural production systems and natural resource management which humanity relies on. These production systems will closely integrate biological and technology, will take into account more fully the costs of production, support the productivity and ecological stability, and restore consumer confidence in products and their methods of production.

Good Sustainable agricultural practices are based on the concept of applying the knowledge available the use of the natural resource base in a sustainable way in order to obtain food products and not safe and healthy food, in a humane manner, while achieving economic viability and stability social. The guiding theme is to know, understand, plan, measure, record and manage in order to achieve specific goals in terms of the interests of the population, the environment and the production. This work presents the guiding principles of good agricultural practice.

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1. SOIL STRUCTURE

The physical and chemical structure, the biological activity of the soil are fundamental elements to ensure the sustainability of agricultural productivity and determine, in their complexity, the fertility of the soil.  Soil management maintain and improve their fertility by reducing soil, nutrient and nutrient losses agrochemicals due to erosion, runoff and leaching in surface water or groundwater. These losses represent inefficient and unsustainable management of these resources, in addition to their deleterious effects possible at a distance.  Management also seeks to promote the biological activity of the soil and to protect natural vegetation and wildlife of the environment.

Good agricultural practices would consist of:

  • Manage the farms considering the properties, distribution and potential uses of soils, keeping a record of the inputs and outputs of each managed land unit.
  • Maintain or improve soil organic matter through crop rotations that reinforce soils and appropriate practices of mechanized plowing and conservation.
  • Maintain soil cover to minimize losses due to wind erosion and / or water.
  • Apply agrochemicals and organic and inorganic fertilizers in quantity and in a timely manner, according to methods appropriate to the agronomic and environmental requirements.

2. WATER

Agriculture bears a heavy responsibility in the management of water resources in quantitative and qualitative. Careful management of water resources and efficient use of water for production agricultural and non-irrigated pastoral care, for irrigation where appropriate, and for agricultural practices. They include optimizing the infiltration of rainwater into the land to maintain soil cover to prevent surface runoff and to reduce as much as possible leaching to groundwater.

To this end, it is important to maintain an adequate soil structure, including including the permanent presence of macropores and organic matter from the soil. Methods and efficient irrigation technologies will reduce losses during the supply and distribution of irrigation water adapting the quantity and time to the agronomic requirements to avoid excessive leaching and salinization.  Groundwater should be managed so as to avoid rising or falling excessive. 

Good agricultural practices would consist of: 

  • Optimize the infiltration of water and reduce as much as possible the unproductive flow of surface water watersheds. 
  • Manage the groundwater and soil water by proper use, or by avoiding drainage the case and strengthening the structure and organic matter of the soil. 
  • Apply production inputs, including organic waste or recycled products, inorganic and synthetic according to practices that avoid contamination of water resources.
  • Adopt techniques to monitor the condition of crops and soil water, to program irrigation rigorously and avoid soil salinization, thanks to measures to save water and recycle if necessary. 
  • Promote the development of the hydrological cycle by establishing a permanent cover of the soil, or now or restaurant wetlands where appropriate. 
  •  Manage groundwater to avoid excessive extraction or accumulation.
  • Provide sufficient, safe and clean water points for livestock.
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3. CROP AND FODDER PRODUCTION

Annual or perennial crops, their cultivars and varieties should be selected to meet the needs of consumers and local markets in terms of their site suitability and role in the rotation of Crops for managing soil fertility, pests and diseases and their responses to inputs available.  Perennial crops offer long-term options and opportunities for intercropping. Annual crops are made in sequences, particularly with pastures, to optimize the benefits interactions between species and to maintain productivity.  Courses are managed for maintain vegetation cover, productivity and species diversity.  Harvesting all plant products or animals removes their nutrient content from the site and these should sooner or later be replaced to maintain productivity in the long run.                                                                                                

Good agricultural practices would consist of:

  • Select cultivars and varieties with full knowledge of their characteristics, including reaction at the time of sowing or planting, productivity, quality, the chances of markets, resistance to disease and stress, edaphic and climatic adaptability, and response to fertilizers and agrochemicals.
  • Alternate crops to optimize the use of labor and equipment and maximize profits of weed control through options that involve competition, mechanical and biological means and herbicides, using non-host crops in order to reduce the diseases, and where appropriate, the inclusion of legumes to provide a biological source nitrogen.
  • Apply organic and mineral fertilizers in a balanced way, using methods and equipment and at the intervals required to replace nutrients removed by harvest or lost during production.
  • Maximize the benefits of soil and nutrient stability by recycling plant residues andother organic residues.
  • Integrate livestock into crop rotation and use nutrient recycling provided by the livestock grazing or stabling to increase the fertility of the entire farm.
  • Rotate cattle on pastures to allow regrowth of good pastures conditions. 
  • Adhere to safety regulations and observe established safety standards for operation equipment and machinery used for crop and forage production.

4. CROP PROTECTION 

Maintaining plant health is essential for high performance agriculture, both in terms of yield than the quality of the products. This requires long-term risk management strategies using disease and pest resistant crops, crop and pasture rotations, protection of vulnerable crops from disease, and using as little agrochemicals as possible to control weeds, pests and diseases in accordance with the principles of integrated protection.  All crop protection measures, including those involving substances that are dangerous for humans or the environment, should only be knowledge and with the material required.

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Good agricultural practices would consist of: 

  • Use resistant cultivars and varieties, crop rotation, associations and ways which optimize the biological prevention of pests and diseases.
  • Regularly and quantitatively assess the balance between pests and diseases on the one hand and the useful organisms on the other hand of all cultures. 
  • Adopt biological control practices where and when possible.
  • Apply pest and disease prediction techniques as appropriate. 
  • Deciding on interventions after considering all possible methods and their short and long-term effects term on agricultural productivity and environmental impacts in order to reduce as much as possible the use of agrochemicals, including the promotion of integrated pest management.
  • Store and use agrochemicals in accordance with the legal approval provisions for different crops, application rates, timing and post-harvest intervals.
  • Ensure that agrochemicals are only applied by competent personnel who have received the wanted and competent training.
  • Ensure that the equipment used for the handling and application of agrochemicals is complies with established safety and maintenance standards.
  • Keep accurate records on the use of agrochemicals.

5. WELL-BEING, HEALTH AND SAFETY OF HUMANS

Agriculture must be economically viable to be sustainable.  The socio-economic well-being of farmers, farm workers and their local communities depends on it.  Health and safety are also important concerns for those involved in agricultural operations. Vigilance and diligence must be permanent. 

Good agricultural practices would consist of:

  • Orient all agricultural practices to achieve an optimal balance between economic goals, environmental and social issues.
  • Provide households with the necessary income and food security.
  • Respect work safety procedures with acceptable hours and periods rest.
  • Give instructions to workers for the safe and efficient use of tools and machines.
  • Pay reasonable wages and not exploit workers, especially women and children.
  • If possible, obtain inputs and other services from local traders.

In-depth practical knowledge of sustainability leads to the adoption of new sustainable practices in agriculture.  This increases a farmer’s ability to respond to market pressures and environmental conditions and help develop a strong and resilient business.  Profits generated by sustainable practices are tangible and non-tangible.  They include economic gains, environmental stability and social benefits.

Sustainable agricultural just like the rotation of the seasons, is a process that is never finished.  That’s why it’s so important to never stop pursuing that goal.

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