Industrial agriculture refers to the introduction of mechanization at the time of growing and harvesting food crops. It involves the optimal use of vast acres of farmlands to produce maximum yields of crops to sustain human dietary needs. This is possible through the implementation of various capital-intensive farming practices and methodologies by large companies. These include the extensive planting of various high-yielding varieties of crops after treating the land with chemical fertilizers. Then, the farmers spray the crops with pesticides and insecticides to protect them from damage. Different types of heavy machines plow the fields through the entire process, sow the seeds, and harvest the crops.
With the advent of the Green Revolution, industrial farming has been instrumental in bringing about a phenomenal increase in agricultural productivity. Today, many countries around the world are able to provide food security and feed their ever-growing population. However, the extensive use of this form of farming leading to an unimaginable environmental degradation in the form of:
- Massive deforestation in many countries to increase the current availability of fertile agricultural land,
- Soil depletion where the land under cultivation loses its intrinsic nutrients and organic matter, which undermines its fertility,
- Water pollution where the residues of chemical pesticides infiltrate water bodies in the vicinity to poison the aquatic population,
- Deprive many species of wildlife of their natural habitat, and
- Climate change resulting from soil erosion, high emissions of fossil fuels, and unsuitable carbon sequestration.
Environmental sustainability refers to the responsibility of human beings to conserve Earth’s natural resources and safeguard its fragile global ecosystems. Only then can the planet be able to sustain the welfare of the present and future generations. In the context of agricultural practices, environmental sustainability implies the proper supervision of the resources and natural systems farms depend on. This is known as sustainable farming and involves:
- Maintaining the fertility and health of the soil under cultivation,
- Managing the water necessary irrigating land used for growing food, fuel, and fiber crops wisely,
- Minimizing all forms of environmental pollution affecting the air, land, and water, and
- Promoting biodiversity to ensure peaceful co-existence between human beings and animals.
Adopting sustainable agricultural practices to boost food production
Current industrial, agricultural practices put immense pressure on the Earth’s natural resources resulting in environmental degradation. However, the implementation of sustainable farming systems protects the planet’s fragile environment and even expands its natural resources. These agricultural techniques and practices act as a catalyst in enhancing the fertility of the soil under cultivation. As a result, farmers and companies conducting agricultural business activities see:
- Significant increase in the income-generation from the farms,
- Boost in the standard of living and livelihood of communities dependent on agriculture, and
- A substantial rise in the production of food, fuel, and fiber crops to meet human needs.
Adopting environmental sustainability for modern agricultural practices is essential for protecting Earth’s fragile ecosystem. However, the implementation of such farming techniques should be compatible with regional climate, biodiversity, and soil conditions. Only then is it possible to sustain the increase in food production and preserve the planet’s natural resources.