"Sustainability I think just means maintaining the the current level of
productivity forever, not necessarily improving it."
Sustainability may mean _reducing_ the level of productivity of agriculture in
some areas. The irrigated farmland in the San Joachin (sp?) Valley of
California is one good example of a region that is practicing unsustainable
farming. I think I recall that 70% or so of the water piped to southern
California goes to agriculture. It would be more sustainable to grow those
vegetables, fruit, and cotton in humid climates such as the midwest or south
"Also, I don't agree that sustainable agriculture necessarily has to provide
for basic human needs- you could farm anything in a sustainable manner, it is
simply a method of producing; what is produced is irrelevant."
If farmers in one country or one region of a country cannot produce food to
meet basic human needs of that country or region, where is that food going to
come from - overseas or across the continent? Contemporary agriculture
succeeds in part because we do not account for the costs of energy in the
price of commodities. If and when petroleum resources become scarce, I believe
you will find that agriculture will rapidly shift to meeting regional food
needs. You have a point if you*re arguing that the world population is
exceeding the carrying capacity of the world*s resources and thus we cannot
meet human needs. But we need to try while we can.
Much of US agriculture at least is geared to produce commodities that
are "luxury" goods not required to maintain life. Does it make sense - is it
sustainable - to produce catawba melons, corn to feed to cattle, or tobacco
when people are going hungry?
"Also economic viability seems to be outside the basic issue- either a system
can produce food inevitably without depleting the resource, or it can't.
Whether or not it makes money is also irrelevant. It is a system that exists
independant of economic factors."
Well the way agriculture is going in the midwestern US, the "farmer resource"
and "rural community resource" are being depleted. You can't have agriculture
without farmers. And these people can only stay in the farming occupation if
they can make enough profit to live and can live in a reasonably thriving
rural community with decent schools, medical and other services, & fellowship.
I respectfully but strongly disagree that sustainable ag exists independent of
economic factors, because agriculture of any sort does not exist without
"And "enhance the quality of life..." well sure, it would be nice, but I don't
think that is relevant to the definition either- it is a possible side
I think I*ve expressed my opinion about this issue already. In closing, it
seems to me that you are hunting for a definition of a "sustainable crop
production system" rather than sustainable agriculture.
DeeAnna Weed Fear loss of meaning
Ag & Biosystems Engineering firstname.lastname@example.org beyond all other losses,
Davidson Hall, Iowa State Voice: (515) 294-6286 because without it
University, Ames, IA 50011 FAX: (515) 294-2552 one can love nothing