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Sustainable Agricultural Needs To Be Talked About More

by Lola
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Sustainable agricultural needs some work.

So, what does the average person really know about sustainable agriculture? Can it affect the environment? Yes, Is it important, of course. We take a deep dive into all things’ agriculture, what’s good what’s bad and how the future looks sustainably.   

Let’s start with a definition as a basis:

According to the Merriam webster:

Agriculture is

“the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products”.

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So, cows produce lots of methane 

So, most people know that cows’ stomachs digest in a complicated way. Cows produce a lot of C02 and can cause overgrazing in green areas. This causes an increase in desertification and land erosion, which is obviously bad.

Dairy and meat products are very popular, so the idea of just removing livestock and hoping this will solve the issue is not very practical. Farmers and governments need to find a balance, to keep everyone happy.

What about crops?

Crops have issues too, the use of harsh chemicals are damaging to not only the land but also to the wildlife and waterways. If good environmental practices are not kept, this has an effect on other areas too. Many staple crops are a vital part of the diet of local people. So having a happy medium is the overall goal.

Ok so let’s look a bit deeper at some sustainable agricultural issues, that we currently have.

All things livestock

There are also the problems of where the animal manure goes when it is produced. Will it seep into local water supplies? This could cause possible illness and depending on where in the world the farm is located could mean extreme sickness or even death. Water pollution really is a worldwide problem.

Planting and natural vegetation headaches


Farm animals need land to graze and be held. Unfortunately, in some poorer areas, the only way to do this is to cut down forests that contain valuable wildlife. These areas also balance the local ecosystem. Interestingly, It takes 20 times less land area to feed a person with a plant only based diet. This seems pretty considerable seeing as similar benefits from meat can be found in plant-based meat.

Some well-known large-scale deforestation cases have been seen in Brazil, Liberia and Ecuador. All of which have a wide range of wildlife that are being endangered and potentially wiping out some species. Reforestation has so many benefits and is a cheap way to cleaner air and healthier ecosystems.  

The use of damaging chemicals, are they really that bad?

Agriculture uses a large number of different chemicals to increase yields and protect crops against potentially harmful pests. Other usages include cleaning and disease protection for animals. But obviously, some of these can be harmful too.

An example of this is the use of the fertilizer N03. If it ends up in the water supply, It could, in turn, lead to bluebottle disease for babies still in the womb.

In terms of animal life, the use of Organo-phosphates insecticides such as parathion and malathion can damage Algae in Rivers and lakes which provide oxygen for fish. The issue here is it could mean the fish can actually drown.

Farms need plastics, right?

Plastics are used in many parts of the agricultural process from the roofing of greenhouses to the plastic used for bales of hale for animal feed.

It also helps in the process of growing food that normally can’t be produced during colder seasons. Many of the plastics that are being used are difficult to recycle or even not recyclable at all, which is not so good.   

Animal Agricultural, what is being done?

Amazingly, healthy animals have been shown to produce less C02 than normal, which seems like an easy place to start to reduce emissions? you might think, it can’t make that much of a difference, right? Well, animal produced emissions can be reduced by up to a staggering 30 per cent with proper dietary care, and disease control.

Next, up Vaccines, we are pretty used to this word at this stage, but how about an animal vaccine?

In New Zealand Scientists are working on a vaccine, that will alter animals’ digestive systems to reduce or even eliminate the emissions they produce. Maybe this is too good to be true, only time will tell. But if it worked and was priced appropriately and with proper government legislation in place this sounds like a game-changer.  

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Sustainably produced wood and paper needs to be everywhere.  

How are companies are dealing with extensive deforestation?

Deforestation is now a bit of a buzzword, but with good reason. Many blame the recent extreme weather as a consequence of the extensive deforestation practices. So, what is being done to help? For many, it’s their only way to put food on the table for their families.

A good solution might be by starting with the companies that are buying the wood in the first place.

In 2020 companies like Penguin and Marks and Spencer’s signed up to buy only sustainably sourced wood and paper, which seems like it should be standardised by governments. But it’s a start.

Checking and supporting companies that follow these types of initiatives, will not only help these companies but pressure others to follow in their footsteps.  

Plant-based meats- Does it really taste like meat?

So, what about agriculture? Producing plants rather than farming agriculture might be the answer. Around 50 per cent of the world, habitable land is being used for agriculture, but livestock agriculture only produces only 20 per cent of the world’s calorie count.

Plant-based meat has been massive gains in support and is already mainstream in many developed countries. Could plant-based alternatives be the answer……

Off land, the farming of seaweed is growing in momentum as seaweed can grow in many different climates and helps regulate the sea’s level of acidification. It is easy to grow in large amounts and has a large nutritional value. Seems like a win-win to me.    

Natural pesticides- What are the options?

Obviously reducing the number of chemicals that help with our food production has been shown to improve our health, but with an ever-increasing world population, is that really practical?

The use of natural pesticides could be a good alternative, a good example of this is the use of rosemary plants, the rosemary plants attract predatory insects that in turn kill the insects that cause the disease.

Most interestingly In India, an army of ducks are being used to eat crop-damaging pests. Which seems like a novel approach. That is all good and well, but what about farms that have thousands of hectares of land? Well, that’s a bit more complex and chemical producers need to work less harmful pesticides for a start.  Sustainable agriculture adds an extra area of complexity, but maybe the old methods just work.

Plastic, plastic everywhere

Laws in the US and in China, don’t fully push the use of biodegradable plastics in all sectors of Agricultural. The US and China are also the biggest users of such plastics. So changes in the law could cause a massive effect on the future of sustainable agriculture as a whole.

The use of biodegradable plastics is becoming more and more popular. The use of biodegradable plastics on crops seems like the most viable option but still hasn’t become mainstream. In 2019 China banned the use of low-quality plastic mulch for planting. Unfortunately, this has only seen a margin reduction in plastic waste.

The US currently has no laws at all in relation to plastic being biodegradable. Going forward all governments need to look at their plastic usage. Small Legislation changes could make a massive difference.

We at Greencloudnine only promote and sell products that have passed a sustainability audit as we believe in honest sustainability. Want to learn more about sustainability? Check out our post on green technology. Alternatively, if you are looking for tips on how to be more eco-friendly check out our post sustainable lifestyle changes.

Promote the use of planting in urban areas and your local areas,

Some unused areas are now being seen as a blank canvas to be turned into an oasis for city life. Not only can rooftops be used as communal areas, but also gardening areas, to produce fruit and vegetables for families.

In Tokyo, Japan on a train station roof, someone came up with the bright idea to create a rooftop farm. You can rent a plot that comes with the necessary tools to plant what you like. This means you and your family can benefit from cheap fresh locally produced vegetables and fruit. Seems like a win-win for everyone.  This is the true meaning of sustainable agriculture.

Similarly, micro parks also known as pocket parks are becoming more popular. In urban areas, they’re ideal for locals to enjoy nature, socialize and bring down temperatures and pollution levels.

New York City has a number of micro parks, most notably the beautiful Paley Park. Micro parks are very popular and show that with limited resources, they are a very viable idea for cities worldwide.

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Support your local farmers:

Why not support your local farmers? Reduce the amount of distance your food travels, and also gain all the great health benefits of very fresh produce. Ideally buying from sustainable organic producers.

Sustainable Agriculture is the way forward, it doesn’t just benefit the wildlife but us too. Sustainable agriculture promotes the air we breath and the food we eat.

So, have you enjoyed our segment on Agriculture? Why not check out our post on the wonderful Kombucha, the sustainable drink of the future. More of a social media fanatic, check out our Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn channels to keep updated on all things great in sustainability. 

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