With the current buzz about sustainability, here's the big question: Sustainable agriculture -- Is it in your future?
These are tumultuous times. Global warming and environmental degradation are serious threats to the future of our world. The current economic situation is somewhat bleak and recovery is slow. Fear of the future is ever present in many minds. The problem is that even if we acknowledge the environmental seriousness, the financial considerations and the reservation we feel hold us back from making significant movement toward positive change. On the other hand, to do nothing spells certain disaster in our future.
Sustainability has many definitions depending upon who is defining it! I define it as agricultural practices which consider, address, and improve the environmental, social, and economic aspects of the operation. It's like a three legged stool. There must be three legs of the same length and in some reasonable configuration in order to h ave balance and stability. To neglect one leg or to put it in the wrong place means the business is likely to collapse.
Keeping that balance has many benefits. If anyone should be an environmentalist, it should be the farmer. If farmers use the land and water without regard to the consequences of management, it means that those resources will likely become degraded and/or depleted. It's like using a car to get to work, but never checking the tires, changing the oil nor putting gas in it. It won't be long before you're looking at alternative transportation. On the other hand, being proactive, considering the consequences, monitoring, and planning ahead will get you there more quickly and with reliability!
Here are ten basic steps to incorporate sustainability into your farm operation:
1. Assess your current situation 2. Define specifically what it is that you are managing 3. Determine what resources you have available 4. Write down what you wish to achieve -- getting to your core principles 5. Plan your strategy to address the environment, finances, and social aspects 6. Test your decisions and actions 7. Monitor your progress -- consider that you could have been wrong 8. Get back on track if you are off course 9. Completely re-plan when necessary 10. Revisit your goal and your plan
The clock is ticking, but there is still time to make a difference. Every epic journey starts with one small step,and then another. Agriculture is the foundation of civilizations. If agriculture fails, so does everything else. What are some steps you can take to move toward more sustainable agriculture? Is it in your future?