Conventional agriculture is characterized as a system with intensive use of capital, large-scale, highly mechanized agriculture with monocultures of crops and extensive use of artificial fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, with intensive animal husbandry. This has led to an increase in the use of fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and fossil fuels and consequently led to an increase in environmental problems. The problems associated with “conventional agriculture” were perceived as unsustainable. Sustainability movements of farmers and consumers initially emerged in the most developed countries (Switzerland, UK, USA, etc.) as a response to concern of particular individuals and groups about negative impacts of agriculture on non-renewable resources and soil degradation, health and environmental effects of chemicals, inequity, declining food quality, decreasing number of farms, decline in self-sufficiency, unfair income distribution, destruction of rural communities, loss of traditional values, etc. By using resources more efficiently, precision agriculture can make farming more productive and sustainable.
This book presents state of the art research and developments on key technologies in sustainable agriculture and its applications. The book starts by taking a look at organic and conventional farmers’ understandings of agricultural sustainability. The focus of this chapter is specifically on the environmental dimensions of agricultural sustainability. Somewhat surprisingly, recent researchers have done little to engage critically with the concept of environmental sustainability. The issue of understanding and evaluating the sustainability of farming organizations such as family farms, agro firms, agro-corporations, agricultural cooperatives, etc. are among the most debated by the researchers, farmers, investors, policy-makers, interest groups, and the public at large around the globe. The second chapter tries to unpack sustainability suggesting a holistic framework for defining and assessing the sustainability of farming enterprises. The ultimate objective of this chapter is to work out an effective framework for assessing the sustainability of farming organizations in the specific economic, institutional and natural environment in which they exist and evolve, assist agri-business management and strategy formation, and agricultural policies and forms of public intervention in the agrarian sector.
Succeeding, the book takes a comprehensive look on irrigation management in coastal zones to prevent soil and groundwater salinization; sustainable approach of bio-organic-phos for managing phosphorus deficiency in agricultural soils; biopesticides and their role in sustainable agricultural production; genetic engineering and sustainable crop disease management: opportunities for case-by-case decision-making; and beef cattle farms’ conversion to the organic system. Further, this book aims to review the main methodologies for assessing sustainability in farming systems.
The book closes with a chapter that explores the role of community-based organizations (CBOs) in promoting and sustaining an organic/sustainable food production system. The chapter argues that CBOs offer a unique platform for this purpose considering their potential to promote collective impact and overcome our ancestral tendencies that tend to discourage sustainable behavior.