Agriculture has made human life not only better but ultimately possible for millennia, from ancient Egypt to Mesopotamia, Turkey, and Pakistan. This essential industry is now facing severe strains ranging from extreme weather to exponential population growth. In order to feed the skyrocketing number of humans, agriculturists will have to nurture practices and techniques that feed and protect the soil. Today’s farms must meld technology with forward-thinking practices that nourish rather than deplete the planet.
Transforming an Ancient Industry
Agriculture is becoming an industry of specialists due to the rising complexity of farming. To ensure that current agricultural practices meet modern demands, farmers have to bring their knowledge and experience to the table and sit down with people who combine farming knowledge with smart business methods. Professionals constantly seek ways to develop pioneering farming practices that are also affordable and sustainable. The key to success may be in finding the right mix of technology and traditional common sense.
Responding to Key Agricultural Trends
Agricultural professionals and specialists grapple daily with large-scale changes in the foundations of farming traditions, including:
- Increasing demands for food safety, supply security, and prudent environmental practices.
- Growing farming costs that rise faster than market prices.
- Technology that helps those who have financial resources but can hurt those who do not.
- Mobile farming that rotates crops to the best environment and climate, rather than growing them on traditionally owned land.
Some of the trending responses to these challenges are:
- Systems mindsets
- Careful marketing and ethical norms
- Natural farming
This approach balances reduced agricultural resources with technology. Some farmers, for example, have moved tomato crops from open lands that require flood irrigation to netted-house drip irrigation. This change has increased crop production 300 percent, reduced water usage 80 percent, and decreased labor costs 25 percent. Intensification practices like this require sizeable initial investments, but a reliable business plan drawn up by an industry professional experienced in both business and agriculture such as Jai Shroff can show these efforts produce profits in the long term and are, in fact, vital to survival.
Systems mindsets is a way of thinking that not only strives for the sole survival of one particular farm but also focuses on making that farm essential to larger systems such as environmental and social entities on which it completely relies. This synergistic, mutually regulating arrangement can work for those who develop an outlook of being an essential part of this living system and who use a specific, common goal as their guiding principle.
Careful Marketing and Ethical Norms
Smart marketing practices often mean that farmers depend largely on sellers who have deep knowledge of the ebb and flow of industry supply and demand. This is a mutually beneficial system that can protect farmers from devastating price distortions. Ethical norms mean that farmers develop internal ethics and morals in everything they do, resulting in the development of a balanced, fair, and prosperous business philosophy that ultimately may prove more successful than plans based on manipulation and exploitation.
Nature or natural farming means that farmers work in partnership with nature rather than in opposition to it and use the best technology possible. Important aspects include changing from dangerous and potentially poisonous synthetic fertilizers to natural soil enhancers such as compost. Other key components include maintaining a protective green belt around crop areas, switching to water-saving drip irrigation, and adopting land-saving cultivation methods. An important facet of the practice of natural farming dictates that crops will only be grown in the best climate for each specific crop.
With this agricultural system, a piece of land is cultivated for a relatively short time and then allowed to recover naturally, or go fallow, for somewhat longer. Eventually, the land that was cultivated will be cleared of natural vegetation and re-planted with crops. Shifting cultivation is usually cyclical and is designed to allow the soil to “rest” between plantings. Soil can be irreversibly exhausted in as little as 10 years, and this method may help slow the loss of nutrients essential for supporting crops.
This agricultural practice involves using organic and natural fertilizers such as bone meal, compost, and manure and emphasizes methods such as companion planting and crop rotation. Organic farming also depends on using biological pest control and naturally occurring pesticides such as pyrethrum and rotenone. Perceived advantages of these practices include sustainability, better health, food safety, and food supply security. The debate, however, rages over these surmised advantages and whether or not they lead to industry profits. No one has yet found a definitive answer about which benefits are real and which are imagined.
Looking to the Future
Today’s farms need to look ahead and adopt sustainable practices for the long run. These methods must blend available resources with the best available technology in order to manage the growing complexity of modern agriculture and nourish the possibilities offered by tomorrow. With experience, open minds, and ethical principles, agriculture will be able to successfully meet the population’s needs now and into the future.
Agriculture – Wikimedia creative commons
Organically grown vegetables – Wikimedia creative commons
Guest Author Bio
Leona helps pass along her knowledge of lifestyle to others. After graduating from the University with a degree in philosophy she worked as a lecturer before jumping into the world of fashion, lifestyle. She is a freelance writer and an editor. She substitute teaches at the local elementary school and is continually surprised by how much she loves it.