Sustainable agriculture is the practice of production of crops, vegetables, animals using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare. This form of agriculture enables us to produce healthy food without compromising future generations' ability to do the same. Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals:

i. Environmental health
ii. Economic profitability, and
iii. Social and economic equity

Organic farming means the crops is grown or raised without the use of synthetic chemicals. Both organic and sustainable farming are aimed at using more ecologically sensible practices, but they are judged by a distinct set of standards. Organic farming, especially when carried out on a large, industrial scale, can still damage the environment and threaten public health in a variety of ways. Ecosystems can still be ruined by widespread monoculture; soils can still be depleted of nutrients and organic matter; pollution can still be created; and exorbitant amounts of fossil fuels can still be spent (and wasted). So sustainable farming is different approach than organic farming.

Some of the benefits of sustainable agriculture are:

Environmental Preservation
Sustainable farming protects biodiversity and fosters the development and maintenance of healthy ecosystems. Sustainable farming is done by using techniques such as crop rotation, conservation tillage, and pasture-based livestock husbandry. This farming never relies on toxic chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetic modified seeds, or practices that degrade soil, water, or other natural resources.

Protection of Public health
Human health should never be compromised with the food production. And the sustainable farming avoids the use of hazardous pesticides, so the crops and vegetables grown are safer to the consumer. Also, the animals are raised without the use of dangerous non-therapeutic antibiotics, or arsenic-based growth promoters. So, sustainable farming protects humans from exposure to pathogens, toxins, and other hazardous pollutants.

Sustaining Vibrant Communities
Sustainable agriculture is always economically viable by providing farmers, farm workers, food processors, and others employed with a livable wage and safe, fair working conditions. It creates good jobs and builds strong communities by boosting the local and regional economics.

Upholding Animal Welfare
Livestock husbandry is practiced in a way that protects animal health and well being. Animals are not put in confinement but rather allowed to move freely, consume natural diet, and avoid the stress.

 

Some of the sustainable agricultural techniques are as follows:
A.

Crop Rotation
It is the oldest and simplest technique to maintain the sustainability of the soil. Crop rotation has a logical order, chosen so the crops planted today can help replenish the nutrients that the previous crops depleted from the soil. Some of the examples are: Planting barley after wheat to maintain soil fertility and reduce erosion and weather damage, planting grains after legumes or sow crops after grains.
It also prevents the transmission of disease. Most of the diseases and pests affect a specific type of crop and can be eradicated by planting a different type of crop in next rotation.

B.

Crop Diversity
Farmers can plant variations of the same species to protect their crops against disease and pests. The varieties of seeds can be obtained from different growers to ensure small but important differences among the plants. These variations ensure genetic diversity which makes the crops stronger. It also results in less financial distress.
For example: If 10 varieties of corn are planted at the same time, mixed together, chances are that a pest attack won't affect all of them, reducing the need for pesticides and cutting down on crop loss.

C.

Cover Crops
Cover crops help to replenish organic matter or to increase soil microorganisms. It is helpful with insect management, soil quality and fertility, pest control and water conservation.
For example: Clover is a cover crop, which can provide soil protection during cold weather, help with water filtration and suppress weeds. Grow clover between rows of berries or fruit trees, and you can help control erosion and prevent the ground from freezing.

D.

Integrated Pest Management
It is the combination of different techniques to create an effective pest control system. Initially, the pest is identified because few pests don't cause major damage to the crops. By using techniques like choosing pest-resistant crops, rotating crops and using beneficial insects, the risk of pests settling in is smaller. When it's time to attack pests, targeted spraying is best. This means not only spraying the specific areas that are affected, but also using chemicals that target only one specific pest and don't put beneficial insects or other wildlife at risk in the process.

E.

Attracting Beneficial Animals
The best way to eliminate the pests and harmful insects is by introducing their natural predators. These predators stick around if they have a place to nest, and if not, then farmer has to build artificial shelter. Ladybugs, beetles are the insects than can be released around crops or manure. They'll be feeding on harmful insects.

F.

Soil Fertility
As crops get vital nutrients from the soil, it's important to maintain soil fertility. Sustainability mainly depends upon soil than any other factor.
Tillage practices, which consist of plowing, turning and airing the soil maintains the soil fertility. Adding organic matter such as manure or crop covers also helps the soil.

G.

Managed Grazing
It is basically a livestock rotation that moves animals to graze in different areas. Animals grazing in different areas providethem variety of nutrients and less exposure to parasites and dust. Managing their grazes by moving them around will reduce the erosion as animals will not tromp over the same area of land over and over. The manure left behind serve as natural fertilizer.

H.

Physical Removal of Weeds
This might be feasible to small farm but not for large farms. Hand removal is labor intensive and usually performed where machines can't reach or where the crops are too fragile. Most of physical removal of weeds is done through help of machinery or tools. Moving and grazing is effective because the weeds can also become mulch if not removed. Burning old crops is an option but may cause damage to soil, local wildlife and dangerous to farmers.

I.

Management of water
The effective management of water can be done by managing poor irrigation systems and waste water. The best way to manage water usage is to choose native crops because these crops are used to the local weather and can resist for longer periods without rain. In dry areas, drought tolerant crops should be selected. Irrigation system should be effectively managed because inefficient systems can deplete rivers, degrade soil, and affect wildlife. Mulch and cover crops helps in retaining water for moisture in soil. Limited irrigation is a practical solution for sustainable farming.

J.

Vertical Farming
It is the best technique for sustainable farming. Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertical structures rather than on the ground. It is the secret to restore soil health, getting rid of pesticides and reducing energy consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions. It helps in increasing crop production and avoiding soil erosion.