Sustainable-farming-practices

Jack Lory

The Top Sustainable Farming Practices for Business Owners

Did you know that farming is the biggest industry in the world? It employs over a billion people and produces food worth more than $1.3 trillion annually. And with the sustainable farming market valued at 13.32 billion in 2022 and predicted to reach 31.35 billion by 2031, it’s evident that sustainable farms are the new wave.

As per the United Nations FAO, or Food and Agriculture Organization, sustainable farming involves meeting textile and food requirements of the present and future while ensuring environmental health, economic and social equity, and profitability.

It uses 56% less energy, produces 64% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and creates better biodiversity than traditional farming. Here are the top sustainable farming practices for business owners to enhance farmer livelihoods, fight climate change, and eliminate deforestation:

1. Hydroponics and Aquaponics

More and more U.S. soybean farmers and producers use these innovative farming procedures for soilless vegetable and plant growth. While hydroponic farming involves feeding plant roots directly with mineral solutions in passive mediums like gravel or perlite, Aquaponics is a blend of hydroponics and aquaculture elements.

It involves feeding vegetables and plants with nutrient-rich (nutrients formed through fish waste mineralization) water, which is further purified by plants and returned to the hydroponics section of the system.

Hydroponic vertical greenhouses stack crops vertically in towers or trays instead of growing them in soil, thus producing fast-growing and healthy crops year-round. You can build these vertical greenhouses on as little as an acre or half of land, with the smallest producing 500 tons of leafy greens a year.

Due to their tiny footprint, these greenhouses work great in urban environments, close to consumers who enjoy their produce. They practice water recycling, which involves reusing the same water multiple times. As a result, they consume 98% less water compared to conventional farms and produce zero waste.

All this adds up to a healthy and sustainable farming solution that yields approximately 2.7 million servings of leafy greens per year in less space than leading businesses use.

Sustainable-farming-practices

2. Permaculture

Permaculture is about producing food by working smarter, not harder, eliminating waste, and creating efficient systems. The major emphasis is on using perennial crops, like nut trees, shrubs, and fruit trees, that function together in a specifically designed system mimicking how plants and vegetables grow in the natural ecosystem. Permaculture design procedures include:

  • Hugelkultur garden beds
  • Plant and herb spirals
  • Mandalas and keyhole gardens
  • Growing vegetables and grains without tillage
  • Developing swales on contour to hold water high on the landscape
  • Each plant serves varied purposes, and sheet mulching

Permaculture ethics and principles can apply to almost all living areas, including energy systems, local economies, housing systems, food production, and water supplies.

Sustainable-farming-practices

3. Biodynamic Farming

This sustainable farming practice includes holistic and ecological growing practices based on anthroposophy, or the philosophy that human intellect has the potential to contact the spiritual world. In biodynamic farming, farmers are motivated to manage their agricultural land as a single living organism where grown species intertwine and support each other’s well-being.

It also incorporates raising farm animals to enhance plant growth and replenish soil fertility. The main objectives of this sustainable farming solution include higher biodiversity of animals, beneficial insects, and plants, and the creation of a resilient ecosystem.

Biodynamic farming aims to reduce off-site inputs like importing soil fertility using animal manure from farmed animals, composting, crop rotation, and cover cropping. It also places huge significance on working with the natural cosmos phenomenon and its impact on soil, animal, and plant health during sun and moon cycles.

Biodynamic farming practices are best for farms growing different types of produce, vineyards, gardens, and other types of agriculture.

Ecofriendly-farming-practices

4. Crop Rotation

Crop rotation, or the practice of using farmlands to grow different varieties of crops every season instead of the same single crop over and over again, improves soil health to a considerable extent.

When the same crop is grown year after year, its nutrient requirements deplete, causing harm to the soil and even to crop quality since the crop does not find sufficient nutrients to grow to its full potential.

Conversely, growing different varieties of crops every season balances all nutrients added and taken from the soil. For instance, one year, a farmer may grow beans that add nitrogen to the soil, and the following year, the same field might feature corn that consumes a lot of nitrogen.

Farmers can practice simple crop rotation by rotating only a few plants year after year or opt for complex crop rotation, where they rotate different varieties of crops and livestock into and out of the farmland.

5. Urban Agriculture

Urban agriculture is growing food closer to consumers, specifically in cities. This type of farming localizes the food system, and with most of the world’s population assumed to live in cities, it has tremendous scope now and in the future. The most common sustainable farming techniques widely incorporated in cities include:

  • Community gardens
  • Backyard gardens and farms
  • Cultivating crops in urban Greenhouses
  • Rooftop farms and indoor hydroponic farms

6. Agroforestry

This sustainable farming method of growing trees between other trees and grazing lands helps retain soil fertility and moisture. It also maintains soil temperature while reducing soil erosion during wind and rain.

All this together maintains soil quality by retaining its essential nutrients. Vegetables and fruits from agroforestry are nutrient-rich and environmentally sustainable, thus increasing profits for the farmers.

The Takeaway

The transition to sustainable farming can be challenging for farmers and business owners. Nevertheless, it is the most viable way to advance various impact goals, like farmer livelihoods and climate change. With the sustainable farming practices above, farmers and companies can continue to feed the world’s growing population for several years.

 

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