Presentation on theme: "Looking at Agricultural Sustainability"— Presentation transcript:
1 Looking at Agricultural Sustainability Sustainable Small Acreage Farming & RanchingUnderstanding “Sustainability” and “Whole Farm” Concepts
2 What is sustainable agriculture? Sustainable Small Acreage Farming & Ranching
3 USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program definition Satisfies human food and fiber needs;Enhances environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends;Makes the most efficient use of nonrenewable and on-farm resources and integrates, where appropriate, natural and biological cycles and controls;Sustains the economic viability of agricultural operations and their communities; andEnhances the quality of life for farmers and ranchers and society as a whole.There are numerous definitions of sustainable agriculture to be found. One that is universally accepted is the USDA SARE definition.
4 Ron Macher, Small Farm Today, says this about sustainable agriculture: Continuous cycle that does not wear out the land or the farmerReplenishes livestock and cropsEnables the family to continue farmingDiversityProfitableEnvironmentally sound and socially acceptableRan Macher, Editor of Small Farm Today and a small acreage farmer himself, provides this definition of sustainable agriculture in his book, “ Making Your Small Farm Profitable.”
5 -Patricia Allen, Agricultural Issues Analyst “Sustainable Agriculture cannot be simply about environment - it must address human values and social relations”.Patricia Allen, assistant director, UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems and an agricultural issues analyst for many years, always brings to the focus the importance of the social context of agricultural sustainability.-Patricia Allen, Agricultural Issues AnalystSustainable Small Acreage Farming & Ranching
6 Description or definition: Providing a more profitable farm incomePromoting environmental stewardshipPromoting stable, prosperous farm families and communitiesA simple definition that applies to what we will study for the purpose of this class looks at an agricultural system from the economic, environmental and social side.
7 Three Aspects of Agricultural Sustainability Economic factorsEnvironmental concernsSocial issuesWe should consider all three aspects in order to assess sustainability at the farm level AND to understand the concept of sustainability.
8 Environment Social Economics The typical or standard definition of sustainability refers to three aspects – the environmental, economic and social.We are not looking at these as separate pieces but the interconnection and or intersection of these - all of these have to be part of a sustainable system .How these three aspects are integrated in the field are varied. There are numerous practices farmer can use to increase the likelihood of his sustainability.
9 Goal 1: Promoting environmental stewardship – Examples: Improving soil qualityReducing dependence on non-renewable resourcesMinimizing adverse impacts on safety, wildlife, water, natural resourcesSome examples of what farmers work on to promote environmental stewardship.
10 Goal 2: Promoting stable, prosperous farm families and communities – Examples: Keen attention to health and safety of family and farm workersEstablish a community connectionPurchasing local products, inputs, and equipmentWorking for farmland preservationHere are several examples of ways farmers promote healthy families and strong rural communities.
11 Goal 3: Providing a more profitable farm income – Examples: Reduce expenses – inputs like fertilizers, etc.Diversify so you have a broader product baseCapture more of the consumer dollar for your productIncrease the “value” of your productsFarmers can increase their chance for more farm profit in several ways; some examples are listed here.
12 Elements of Sustainability from SAN publication , “Exploring Sustainability in Agriculture”Some of the major ways farmers implement the principles of sustainability into their farm practices include the following from the publication “Exploring Sustainability of Agriculture.”1 = IPM - minimizes economic, health and environmental risks.2 = Rotational Grazing (out of barn into pastures to provide high quality forage, reduced fee costs while avoiding manure buildup)3 = soil conservation - (minimum, reduced or no-till, strip cropping)4 = Water quality / wetlands (preserve water quality and use water as filter for nutrients and pesticides)5 = cover crops (weed suppression, erosion control and improved soil nutrients and quality)6 = crop and landscape diversity (reduces risk, increase population of beneficial insects and wildlife habitat)7 = nutrient management (increased use of on farm resources - manure , compost, leguminous cover crops)8 = Agroforestry (interplanting trees with crops or pasture, riparian buffer strips)9 = Alternative marketing (innovative direct marketing strategies can improve profits).
13 Elements of Sustainability IPMRotational GrazingSoil conservationWater quality / wetlandsCover cropsCrop and landscape diversityNutrient managementAgroforestryAlternative markets
14 Looking at these 9 elements can help a farm towards a more sustainable agriculture. Each farm uses different tools in different ways and to varying degrees.
15 Farmers promote sustainability by: Implementing a variety of tools or practicesDecisions and ability to implement practices depend on, or are influenced by, the whole farming systemThe degree to which the tools are implemented can lead to variations as to how sustainable the farm might beEach farmer implements those tools that fit his system and are adaptable to the situation within a certain costs and benefits consideration. Most sustainable thinking farmers are looking at their farming system as a whole, the ecology of the region and their communities when making decisions of implementing practices and to what degree.
16 Sustainable agriculture is a continuum Less sustainable thinkingMore sustainable thinkingIn his book Sustainable Vegetable Production from Startup to Market, Vern Grubinger has a unique way of describing sustainability as a continuum that producers gradually progress towards as they adopt new ways of thinking and new farm practices. Here he applies it to the way farmers think about the farm as financial and natural resource assets.Get through this yearNext few years make or breakPass farm to kidsStewardship for many generations
17 Insect Management Less sustainable practice More sustainable practice Calendar spray insecticides(on a pre-determined schedule)Scout for insect pests, then spray non-selective insecticideScout for insect pests, then spray selective, least- toxic pesticideUse cultural practices and beneficial insects to control pestsAn example of the progression of stages in adoption of Insect management strategies.
18 Crop Rotation Less sustainable practice More sustainable practice Monoculture (same cropin same field each year)Two years between the same crop planted in the same fieldThree years between crops planted in the same fieldFour years between the same crop planted in the same fieldCrop rotation adoption reflects degrees of sustainability.
19 Weed management Less sustainable practice More sustainable practice Apply herbicides as primary weed controlApply reduced rates of herbicide and cultivateCultivate to remove weedsUse allelopathy, smother crops, and mulches to suppress weedsWeed management practices as approached from less to more sustainable.
20 Organic Matter Maintenance Less sustainable practiceMore sustainable practiceAdd crop residues only to the soilAdd animal manures plus crop residuesAdd cover crops, animal manures, plus crop residuesAdd compost, cover crops, plus crop residues to the soilOrganic matter application in promoting sustainability by degrees.
21 Relationship to Consumer Less sustainable practiceMore sustainable practiceProducer is unknown to consumerConsumer has loyalty to grower brandConsumer contact with grower at direct marketsConsumer commitment to farm through practices such as community supported agricultureSustainability is more easily obtained as we get closer to the grower- consumer connection.
22 Agriculture Sustainability is a continuum In summary...Agriculture Sustainability is a continuumSo as a summary,sustainable ag is a continuumIt is always changing and evolving with timeit encompasses agriculture at the economic, environmental and social level and is site specific to each farm and farming system.Three components are environment, economics and socialSite specific to each farm and farming system
23 Sustainability in Ag - Summary Economic, environmental and social factors are all importantSustainability is site specific but some indicators of sustainability have been established.Sustainability is based on a set of progressive steps towards a long term goal.