«Sustainable Methods of Agricultural Production» - Free Essay Paper

Sustainable Methods of Agricultural Production

Production agriculture involves the process of growing and marketing of plants and animals. Production agriculture enables an individual to demonstrate the techniques of production as far as sustainable agriculture is concerned in addition to integrating the procedures of pest management into the techniques of crop production. A good agricultural production is based upon the use of sustainable methods of production with the view of increasing the benefits in terms of sales. There are various methods of sustainability such as crop rotation, growing of cover crops, soil enrichment, pest management and the use of natural pest eliminators, the use of irrigation as well as preventing soil erosion. Fisher, Boucher, Attwood, and Kareiva (2013) affirm that all these sustainable methods of production ensure that there is high yield of production, which only boosts a company’s revenue. Additionally, some of the methods increase the fertility of the soil in addition to pest control, which increases productivity and becomes crucial in agricultural production. Therefore, it should involve the integration of sustainable methods for the effective and efficient agricultural production, environmental protection, pest control, and maintaining and boosting soil fertility.

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Sustainable Agricultural Production Methods

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation involves the planting of various crops in the same field in succession. This technique is among the powerful ones used for sustainable agriculture as it prevents the unintended effects of growing the same type of crops in the same field each year. Crop rotation is a permanent and efficient solution to the issue of pests because various pests prefer specific crops (Garnett & Godfray, 2012). Therefore, the continuous planting of similar crops guarantees these pests a good food supply, hence increasing their population. Not only does crop rotation prevent the pest problem but it also reduces the use of chemical pesticides, which encourages such organisms as soil fungi and pollinators to be the environmentally friendly and save the farmers from excess expenses. Rudel et al. (2016) indicate that the long-term research in the Corn Belt heart has shown that weed control that is integrated based on crop rotation has led to the reduction of the need of using fertilizers as well as herbicides by a huge percentage, therefore bringing the farmers big profits in addition to high yields. As far as crop rotation is concerned, farmers can plant different crops that ensure that the nutrient of plants is replenished, which only improves the soil fertility. At the same time, Tey et al. (2012) inform that the growing of legumes, such as peas and beans, using the crop rotation technique increases the nutrient level of the soil as these legumes produce nitrogen. Furthermore, Lubell, Hillis, and Hoffman (2011) indicate that the nitrogen produced from legumes, such as beans, remains in the soil for a longer time as compared to the nitrogen found in synthetic fertilizers. Additionally, the nitrogen from legumes cannot leach into the ground water and it prevents the pollution of streams.

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Growing Cover Crops

The growing of cover crops has environmental benefits as well as benefits to the farmers. On numerous occasions, many farms fields in the USA are left bare for even a year when plants are not grown, therefore creating various problems such as leaching of fertilizer chemicals into streams and rivers, wind and rain. Consequently, Rudel et al. (2016) note that there is the loss of soil and nutrients, which increases the costs for farmers in addition to causing public health problems and problems of the environment. However, the growing of cover crops protects and builds the soil. Common cover crops include crimson clover and annual ryegrass. The growing of cover crops helps in solving health and environmental problems. In addition, cover crops increase the productivity of the soil for a long period of time as they have the ability of adding organic matter to the fields’ soils. Thus, the growing of cover crops is beneficial in various ways. Firstly, cover crops only benefit the environment as they hold soil in place. Cover crops are also capable of reducing sediment in streams and rivers, not to mention lakes, as sediments degrade fisheries and habitats. Garnett and Godfray (2012) affirm that cover crops also address the problem of groundwater contamination as they reduce the leaching of nitrogen from the farm fields. Cover crops also reduce the costs of farming as they decrease the need of using nitrogen fertilizers as well as pesticides. Furthermore, cover crops improve productivity by enhancing fertility and the capacity of the soil to hold water in addition to contributing to the effective and efficient ecological management of the farm fields, therefore increasing their resilience and resistance to such problems as drought, for example. Hence, Lubell, Hillis, and Hoffman (2011) opine that policies and programs have to be implemented to ensure that the growing of cover crop is largely adopted but only if this technique is less employed by various farmers because of the following shortcomings. Firstly, this technique has proven to be expensive and when adopted, it may not benefit all farmers. Secondly, there is not much available information in regards to this technique of agricultural productivity. More so, the technique also comes with the challenge of delayed return as far as investment is concerned.

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However, the federal programs can help farmers adopt this technique, as they will be able to contend with the loss of yields. In addition, financial incentives can be used to help farmers in shouldering the direct costs of growing cover crops in addition to helping them compensate for the loss of income from cash crops since they will have to grow less profitable cover crops. Apart from this, Menalled et al. (2008) recommend that there should be the extension of technical assistance in providing the farmers with improved information on the use and the adoption of cover crops. By doing this, higher adoption rates of growing cover crops are encouraged. Hence, despite the fact that most farmers do not use this method, financial incentives have to be made to build the morale of farmers towards adopting the growing of cover crops in addition to coming up with financial incentives that will help farmers to begin embracing the growing of cover crops.

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Soil Enrichment

The most prized element of agricultural ecosystems is soil. Therefore, the enrichment of soil improves yields in addition to producing robust crops that have greater resistance to pests. Thus, soils that are often abused require good application of fertilizers with a view of producing high yields. The quality of soil can be maintained and boosted in various ways. It should be noted that Tey et al. (2012) opine that the first way of boosting the quality of soil is by using lime with a view of raising the pH level of the soil without compromising it. This is an effective and efficient way of organically enriching the soil. However, one should be careful not to damage the root systems when working on vegetation. Soils, which contain a greater amount of organic material in addition to lots of clay, require a huge amount of lime for the soil pH to be changed. Nevertheless, Fisher et al. (2013) explain that one ought to consider the baseline of the soil before altering the pH level. Composting is another method that can be used in enriching soil. Composting is cheaper as compared to the use of commercial fertilizers. This method is also a more organic technique of enriching soil because the enriched soil is a habitat for earthworms and other microorganisms that enrich the soil naturally. The application of manure to the exhausted soil is another great way of enriching it. Manure should firstly be composted since fresh manure is proven not to be strong for plants. Furthermore, runoffs should be avoided when composting manure. If runoffs occur, they have the ability of contaminating waterways. Green manure can also be used in soil enrichment. Garnett and Godfray (2012) affirm that green manures are a collection of old crops tilled in the soil. Green manure releases nitrogen as well as other nutrients in the soil, thus enriching it. Enriched soil can be indicated by its appearance. A quality soil appears dark, moist, and dense. Consequently, enriching soil is the basic technique for ensuring high yield production. Therefore, soil enrichment can be made using both organic and inorganic methods, thus boosting agricultural production.

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Pest Management and the Use of Natural Pest Eliminators

Pest management increases agricultural productivity. Therefore, pest management techniques should be integrated and used to identify and observe pests during their initial stages of development. However, it is important to note that not all pests can be termed as harmful. Therefore, the non-harmful pests should be left to coexist with the growing crops rather than be eliminated, which causes unnecessary spending of money by the farmers. Rudel et al. (2016) explain that an integrated pest management relies on biological measures rather than chemical ones. This approach ensures that pest problems associated with crop rotation are prevented in addition to preventing releasing beneficial organisms as they prey on the existing pests. In regards to the integrated pest management approach, managing pests using chemical pesticides is the last option. Thus, Lubell, Hillis, and Hoffman (2011) assert that if chemical pesticides are used, targeted spraying should be done with the purpose of eliminating only harmful pests. However, farmers can increase agricultural production by using natural pest eliminators. These natural pest eliminators include birds and insects. Therefore, farmers ought to build shelters that keep these eliminators close to the fields. Fly parasites are capable of feeding on pests such as aphids and mites. Natural pest eliminators are available from stores that deal with pest control and shops that deal with farming supplies. Tey et al. (2012) are of the view that understanding the farm as an ecosystem rather than terming it as a factory provides exciting opportunities for the efficient and effective pest control. Hence, managing farms with a view of harboring populations of natural best predators is an effective and sophisticated technique of pest control. Conclusively, the methods of pest control should not involve chemicals. Additionally, in the process of pest control, the valuable pests should not be destroyed; rather, there should be the elimination of the pests that hinder agricultural productivity.

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Irrigation and Preventing Soil Erosion

Irrigation can be used as the method of increasing agricultural production. Thus, water is supplied to the growing plants at the regular intervals. Menalled et al. (2008) explain that irrigation is crucial in ensuring agricultural production as it helps in maintaining landscapes and assists in agricultural crops’ growth and the re-vegetation of the disturbed soils in the regions that are dry during the period of inadequate supply of water, especially with low amounts of rainfall. Furthermore, irrigation is of great value to crop production as it protects the growing crops against frost. It also suppresses the growth of weeds in the grain fields apart from preventing the consolidation of soil. The modern methods of irrigation are efficient and effective in supplying the entire field with uniform amounts of water, therefore ensuring that each crop receives the right amount of water needed for its growth (Tey et al., 2012). Various methods of irrigation can be used for agricultural productivity. The first method is the drip method, whereby water is applied directly to the zone of the root of the crop by the applicator means such as porous tubing and emitters. Center-pivot is another method of irrigation that can be used in agriculture to promote agricultural productivity. This method of irrigation is employed by using an automated sprinkler. Garnett and Godfray (2012) explain that the sprinkler pipe is automatically rotated and then water is supplied to the sprinkler nozzles, thus irrigating a radius from the centre of the farm field. Water is applied uniformly to all the plants. Irrigation boosts crop production as it ensures that each growing plant is supplied with the adequate amount of water needed for growth. Irrigation is commonly used in the dry regions that experience low supply of water. On the other hand, soil erosion lowers crop production. Therefore, for higher productivity, soil erosion has to be prevented by building terraces and mulching among other methods of preventing soil erosion (Lubell, Hillis, & Hoffman, 2011). Soil erosion destroys the fertility of the soil, therefore influencing the crop production negatively. It is important to note that preventing soil erosion is very beneficial as it maintains the fertility of soil.

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Benefits of Using Sustainable Methods of Agricultural Production

Sustainable methods of agriculture contribute largely to the conservation of the environment because these methods help in replenishing the land and natural resources such as water and air. The replenishment ensures that the generation to come has sustained natural resources (Fisher et al., 2013). In addition, employing sustainable agricultural methods prevents pollution. In other words, waste produces are maintained in the farm and thus, pollution is prevented. These methods also improve public health safety because of the fact that when sustainable agricultural methods are employed, hazardous pesticides and fertilizers are avoided. Hence, the produced crops are safe for human consumption. These methods also bring great benefits to farmers. While engaging in sustainable methods of agricultural production, farmers are able to receive good revenue for their produces. In addition, these methods reduce the reliance of farmers on subsidies, therefore strengthening rural communities. Furthermore, using sustainable agricultural methods promotes diversity. Sustainable farming leads to the production of a wide variety of plants and animals, therefore leading to biodiversity. For instance, while employing the sustainable method of crop rotation, various crops are seasonally rotated, which promotes soil enrichment, preventing the outbreak of diseases and pests (Rudel et al., 2016). Therefore, farmers should be encouraged to use these sustainable methods of agricultural production extensively for individual gain and for the protection of environment as well as for the promotion of public health safety. Apart from this, the farmers should be adequately educated in regard to the sustainable methods of agricultural production to ensure maximum benefits.

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In conclusion, sustainable agricultural methods provide high yields generally without undermining the natural resources and systems that productivity highly depends on. One of most important effect of these sustainable agricultural methods is that the use of both fertilizers and pesticides is minimized, which saves money in addition to providing protection to the future productivity as well as protecting the environment. These methods can also be used for the effective and efficient weed, pest, and disease control as well as erosion control, at the same time ensuring that the quality of the soil is improved as well. Despite the fact that some of these methods have their disadvantages, measures have to be taken to ensure that these disadvantages are dealt with to ensure increased agricultural productivity. Therefore, for the efficient and effective production agriculture, sustainable methods have to be used for attaining maximum benefits. Both small-scale and large-scale farmers must be enlightened on how to utilize sustainable approaches for the maximum benefits from their farms.

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