With a growing human population, sustainable agriculture is not necessarily a brand-new concept. Still, it is a growing concern amongst farm owners and others in the farming and lending industry. For those seeking to obtain land loans, sustainable farming practices can be incentivized.
What exactly is sustainable farming? Read on to learn more about the basic tenets of the practice, why it is so important for the future of responsible food production, and how it relates to land lending.
Is Sustainable Farming a Fad?
Not likely. One only needs to look at the food crises in other parts of the world, climate change, and the rise of the organic food industry for a bit of insight. With more emphasis placed on health in recent years, industrial agriculture practices, with their heavy amounts of chemicals and fertilizer, have been more criticized by consumers. Of course, the effects of these chemicals and fertilizers are being found not only in our food but also in our bodies, the soil, water, and air.
Three things make for sustainable agriculture:
- Environmental Sustainability
- Higher Quality of Life for Farmers and Communities
- Preserving the Resource
To have a sustainable environment in farming you must carefully, and responsibly, manage natural systems and resources that farms rely on. These practices can include:
- The limitation of air and water pollution
- Responsible water management
- Erosion prevention
- Building healthy soils
- Promotion of biodiversity
- Carbon storage
- Extreme weather resilience practices
Higher Quality of Life
When you eat better, you feel better. Additionally, when you can help your community do the same, you’re making a big impact on the community. Creating economically and socially sustainable systems and practices on a farm can help farms to be profitable and to contribute to their local economies. This also helps the workers in the farming industry and supports the next generation of farmers.
Preservation of the Resource
Preserving the resource to the best of one’s ability is a pillar of sustainable farming. Treating nonrenewable resources as renewable can compromise the future viability of both the land and human resources in the community. Ideally, a number of small steps can help land be used without compromising the future or degrading the land itself.
Implementing Sustainable Farming Techniques
Simple techniques can go a long way to ensuring that land resources are not depleted quickly. Through decades of study and practice these techniques have been found to achieve sustainability, especially when used in combination with each other.
Reducing tillage: The no-till or reduced-till methods have been found to reduce erosion and improve soil health.
Integrate livestock with crops: A growing number of farms have found that integration of crop and animal production can make farms more efficient and profitable. Crops are grown in conjunction with the animals they feed while the manure fertilizer is abundant for the crops.
Rotate crops and create diversity: Since different crops give and take different nutrients, growing the same crops in the same area will quickly deplete the nutrients in the soil and create a reliance on fertilizer. Intercropping is the practice of growing a diversity of crops in a multiyear rotation so as not to deplete the soil.
Plant perennials and cover crops: Again, this comes down to nutrients. Cover crops can help protect active roots in the ground throughout off seasons while replenishing nutrients in the soil. Not only does this reduce the need for fertilizer, but also herbicides.
Agroforestry practices: Mixing trees and shrubs into a farm’s operations can create natural shade and shelter for plants, animals, and water resources. Additional income can be made from fruit or nut trees that create additional food sources for harvest or for livestock diets.
Biodiversity: When turning an uncultivated area into a farm, consider leaving natural vegetation next to water sources. This helps to reduce erosion and limits nutrient loss. Native wildflowers can help support bees and other pollinators that drive the farming industry.
Reduce chemical use: In order to minimize chemical pesticides many farmers turn to mechanical or biological controls, a practice called Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
Sustainable Farming Can Save You Money
If you are looking to purchase a property, while implementing sustainable farming, it could really save you money! Lenders have started programs that incentivize these practices. Give our team a call to learn how these techniques can save you up to 1% on your land loan interest rate.
You can make a personal investment in the future of you and your family – but also an investment in your community and even your broader region. Becoming a part of the sustainable agriculture industry is more than just a personal investment – it’s an investment in your neighbors and the viability of the community at large.