We are always looking for ways to feed the growing population, but one must also be mindful of the effect agriculture has on the environment. This will allow us to mitigate the more negative effects.
One such approach is known as conservation agriculture. The term is rather new, but its practices are tried and true. There are three main principles to this method of agriculture, outlined below.
The first of these principles deals with how the farm handles its soil. Soil is a farm’s most important asset, and should be treated as such. Luckily, the most eco-friendly techniques are also the ones that will keep your soil most fertile.
No-till farming is the term most commonly used for this type of farming. Tillage is not required in order for you to grow your seeds, and no tillage also means that the soil will be left undisturbed.
Some preparations will be needed in order to plant seeds, including slashing or rolling of weeds and crop residue, spraying herbicides for weed control, and seeding directly through the mulch.
Cover crops play a big role in this approach to farming, as you will need to always have some sort of crop on your plot of land. This keeps the soil hydrated, and prevents it from freezing. It also provides an additional source of income in between growing seasons.
Cover crops are a protective aspect of agriculture–one that results in more work for the average farmer, but is beneficial to both the soil and your bottom line. Cover crops typically have lower market value, and their main purpose is to cover and protect the soil during winter months. Still, there are ways to earn profit from these crops, as they can be used to feed cattle and other forms of livestock.
Crop rotation is another benefit of using cover crops. Changing the crops you plant on a plot of land will increase the soil’s fertility over time. Cover crops are best grown during fallow periods, between harvest and planting of commercial crops. This utilizes the residual soil moisture.
Diversity in crops helps small farmers for a variety of reasons, and not all are limited to the environment. Farmers should always have more than one source of income available, and crop diversity makes this possible.
There is certainly a market for secondary crops. It may not be as lucrative as your main crop, but you will still have buyers willing to purchase secondary crops. Cover crops play a role in mitigating pests as well, cutting down on the need to spend precious funds on pesticides and herbicides. This is better for your wallet, as well as the environment overall.
Water is another resource in high demand for any farm, and is often overlooked as a costly expense. When applying cover crops and species diversification to your practices, you’ll waste less water, resulting in significant cost reductions.
Conservation agriculture is rising in popularity, but its methods have been around for quite some time. It is an eco-friendly and sustainable way to grow food: a method that centers on conserving the soil and its nutrients through crop rotation and species diversification.