> How does organic differ from sustainable agriculture?
Check out the "Sustainable Agriculture Network" page:
It gives a great definition of sustainable agriculture and farmer examples of
sustainable systems. Here's a short paragraph to wet your appetite:
"Sustainable agriculture does not refer to a prescribed set of practices.
Instead, it challenges producers to think
about the long-term implications of practices and the broad interactions and
dynamics of agricultural systems. It
also invites consumers to get more involved in agriculture by learning more
about and becoming active
participants in their food systems. A key goal is to understand agriculture
from an ecological perspective — in
terms of nutrient and energy dynamics, and interactions among plants, animals,
insects and other organisms in
agroecosystems — then balance it with profit, community and consumer needs".
Here are my thoughts:
Organics is basically a philosophy with a prescribed set of guidelines for
growers to use in food production. Sustainable covers a much broader scope
and has no official standards.
This evening we got a nice shower of rain just before dark. As I was heading
home on the 4 wheeler, and passing a field of notilled corn that is just
coming up, I noticed a lot of earthworms that were on top of the ground. I got
off to take a closer look and earthworms were diving into their holes all over
the place! After quietly watching for awhile, I even saw some eating residue
and pulling it into their holes! Castings cover about 3/4th's the soil
surface. I drove over to my neighbors, just planted, plowed field and could
find no worms!
The reason I share this is because it makes my point. I notill plant my crops
and this is very good for controlling soil erosion, higher soil quality, and
gives a dramatic increase of worms and soil micro organisms. ( we have
research on our farm to support this) It also saves me from using allot of
fuel that pollutes the atmosphere and from releasing CO2 when the soil is
turned. Since my philosophy is 100% notill I don't till my soil at all. (Some
for over 30 years!) But I do need to use some herbicides instead of tillage to
control weeds. (I only use about half -17 bucks an acre last year-of what my
conventional buddies use and they plow, disk, and then cultivate and still
use herbicides!) so you can see that I could not notill in an organic system
because I use some herbicides. However I think it is clear to recognize the
fact that I am indeed doing some things that are better then the organic
system has to offer. (less fuel used, better soil erosion control, increased
organic matter and aggregate stability, and less CO2 emissions.) The worms
told me this evening that I am keeping them very happy!
In summary: There are some "organic" farmers who are not sustainable, although
most would be. There are some "conventional" farmers who are sustainable or
nearly so. The key is, sustainable agriculture does not refer to a prescribed
set of practices. Its taking the best of various systems and then balances
it with profit, community and consumer needs.
-- "New Generation Cropping Systems": the cutting edge of sustainable agriculture
http://www.cedarmeadowfarm.com Steve Groff Cedar Meadow Farm 679 Hilldale Rd Holtwood PA 17532 USA Ph. 717-284-5152
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