Basic Farming Principles and Threats to Sustainable Agriculture

Crops, soil and seasons may vary but the basic farming principles remain the same as they were ages ago. Although, farming has become a lot easier than before with the introduction of new technology and modern equipment but farmers still need to stick to the same fundamental principles that were prevalent thousands of years ago.

The most important factor for growing a crop is availability of sun, water, air and soil. Regardless of the fact of availability of sun and air everywhere on earth, the crops that can be grown in a particular site depend largely on nutrients in the soil and how much water is available for farming.

Soil Quality, Fertilizers and Natural Resources

One of the basic principles of farming is sustainability because every time a farmer grows and harvests a crop, the soil loses some of its nutrients. Unless these are replenished, the land may become unfit for cultivation or yields may drop making it uneconomical.

Improving soil quality normally involves use of synthetic fertilizers and mineral ores such as phosphates. While replenishing soil nutrients, attention needs to be paid to minimize the use of non-renewable resources. For example, Natural gas is extensively used for converting atmospheric nitrogen into synthetic fertilizers, which has led to the popularity of organic farming.

There are natural sources of nitrogen that will be always available, at least in principle. These include recycling crop waste, livestock or treated human waste and growing crops like legumes, alfalfa and peanuts, which are symbiotically related to nitrogen forming bacteria. A lot of work has also been done on production of nitrogen from methods using renewable resources.

Irrigation

While many areas get adequate rainfall to facilitate crop growth, some areas need water. Indiscriminate use of water for irrigation makes water a non-renewable resource. It is thus extremely important that irrigation systems ensure that only that much of ground water is used from a source as is naturally replenished. This necessitates making use of the improved water well drilling technology and submersible pumps. The development of low pressure pivots and drip irrigation has also been instrumental in increasing crop yields in areas with scanty rainfall.

Soil Erosion 

Soil erosion is one of the biggest problems that are threatening the ability to grow food in future. Humanity has for long been ignoring the basic farming principle that ensure preservation of soil’s ability to grow a crop. Excessive tilling and use of chemical fertilizers containing salt causes soil erosion. Other factors that lead to soil erosion are indiscriminate deforestation, absence of wind breaks to hold the soil and not protecting topsoil against water runoff. 




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