The Future of Farming
As the world continues to develop and attempts to provide for the ever growing population, more and more land is being diminished, which will eventually destroy the topsoil due to the use of petroleum based fertilizers and other unnatural means of producing vegetation. As this challenge faces us, we will be forced to find other ways of supporting ourselves instead of relying on the farms we have today. It is important that we realize the importance of practicing sustainable farming while we still have the option to make a step in the right direction.
Growers now try to produce as much food as possible, with the limited amount of land that they are allowed to cultivate. They over use fertilizers, which contain chemicals such as petroleum, that make the soil economically useless and dangerous to living organisms. Pesticides, which are also very harmful in the farming world and overused as well, cause much damage to crops everywhere. In a chapter from a book, The Long Emergency, Kunstler argues that we as Americans have been “eating” our sources of natural gas by the use of petroleum-based herbicides and pesticides and fertilizers made out of natural gases and if we continue to abuse these, we will be forced to reorganize entirely the way we produce our food (239). The top soil, which is the upper most layer of soil where the plants develop their roots and get nutrients, is also being destroyed at an alarming rate. The destruction of topsoil could be detrimental to farming because there are very few places left with available, fertile soil.
One aspect of sustainable farming that could help to reduce the use of harmful fertilizers and pesticides is organic farming. According to Bengtsson, organic farming is a process that “operates without pesticides, herbicides, and inorganic fertilizers” and includes a more diverse crop rotation (263). This practice also increases biodiversity and species richness among crops, which will make them more plentiful and healthy. In a study done by Janne Bengtsson in 2002, it was shown that the use of organic farming increased the amount of crops grown by 50% (42). The crop rotation aspect of organic farming, which is the practice of using the same land to grow different crops over many years, helps to strengthen and replenish top soil, and keep it nutrient rich. By practicing organic farming alone, which is just one aspect of sustainable agriculture, we will vastly reduce the amount of harmful fertilizers and pesticides and be able to replenish top soil all in the same practice.
Along with the rise of organic farming, scientists and farmers are working hard to develop and promote other sustainable practices of agriculture as well. Our growing technology sets us up for a vicious return from farming, meaning that if we do not use our technology for things other than pesticides and harmful fertilizers, nature will have its’ own way of biting us back (Kunstler 240). Some of these methods include hydroponics, which is the method of growing vegetation without soil, which produces “better growth and much greater yields”(Simply.. organics). The use of roof top gardens in urban areas is also included. Roof top gardens are self explanatory, and consist of using rooftop space to grow plants. By using these methods of sustainable agriculture, we will help the soil, reduce the use of harmful products, improve the quality of our atmosphere, and reduce the amount of atmospheric pollution (Boelcke).
With advantages always comes disadvantages, and although there a few disadvantages, they still exist. One problem with sustainable agriculture is the choice of crops, which becomes limited because some of them cannot survive without pesticides and unnatural fertilizers. By using sustainable farming methods, the total amount of crops yielded is less than the amount yielded when using more traditional farming methods (Abel 52). Also, because many sustainable...
Cited: Abel, Charles. “Organic under attack.” Volume 137 Issue 14. “Farmers Weekly.” Reed Business Information. October 2002.
Bengtsson, Janne. “The effects of organic agriculture on biodiversity and abundance: a meta-
analysis.” Journal of Applied Ecology. Volume 42 Issue 2. Department of Ecology
and Crop Production Science. April 2005.
Kunstler, James Howard. The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century. New York: Atlantic Monthly, 2005. Print.
"Simply Hydroponics - What Is Hydroponics?" Hydroponics Systems from Simply Hydro - Buy Online and Save. Web. 01 Dec. 2010. .
"What Are the Advantages of Rooftop Gardening?" WiseGEEK: Clear Answers for Common Questions. Web. 01 Dec. 2010. .
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