Sustainable Farming
Source: Getty Images

Sustainable Farming Techniques: Do They Really Help?

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Apr. 22 2021, Updated 1:58 p.m. ET

Shockingly, of the leading contributors to global warming is the agricultural industry. From relentless deforestation to make room for farmland, to mistreating animals for their meat and byproducts, and to using massive amounts of water, it's no surprise that farming contributes to serious problems for human health, and for the health of planet Earth. That leads us to wonder — does sustainable farming truly exist?

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Keep reading for our take on sustainable farming, as well as the various techniques the agricultural industry is implementing to lower its impact.

agriculture impact
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Does sustainable farming really exist?

Although one might think that farming would benefit the environment by providing people and animals with food sources, it often does more harm than good. Various techniques, such as tillage and the use of pesticides, decreases the quality of soil, which unfortunately is responsible for sequestering large amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere. Fertilizers and pesticides also tend to pollute fresh drinking water, and the pesticides ultimately end up harming wildlife and humans alike.

Meanwhile, many irrigation techniques use unsustainable amounts of water, to the point where it may one day become a non-renewable resource. Large amounts of land are also cleared to create farming space, leading to deforestation and requiring large amounts of energy. That said, it's important to consider the many farming techniques we could and should more often be using, to ensure the agricultural industry is running low-impact — take a look at many sustainable techniques, below:

Soil conservation methods

soil
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The well-being of our planet's soil is crucial — it sequesters large amounts of CO2, it's a natural compost, and it's home to many important organisms. Unfortunately, though, synthetic manures, pesticides, and poor farming practices harm our soil, but there are many ways to preserve it through soil conservation methods

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Regenerative Farming

regenerative
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A process called regenerative agriculture, which is a certain type of soil conservation method, has grown particularly popular. It basically focuses on soil restoration while growing crops by using cover crops, crop rotation, compost, and animal manures. Others include rain gardens and shade trees.

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Organic farming

organic
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Organic farming only uses natural pest control methods and biological fertilizers to grow crops, without the use of chemicals or pesticides. To obtain the official organic label, farmers are required to go through an intense certification process to prove their techniques are 100 percent clean and free of any harmful substances. This ultimately impacts the water, nearby wildlife, surrounding lands, the atmosphere and farmers in a positive way.

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Vertical farming

One reason why farming is so harmful to the planet is because of deforestation, or clearing out trees for the sake of farmland. It destroys habitats, requires massive amounts of energy, and kills trees that would otherwise sequester CO2. But vertical farms conserve space as well as water. Often allowing plants and crops to grow upwards, they provide space in the air for plants to grow, without having to clear much space at all. They also use technology to save water, only doling the amount plants need.

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Vegan farms

vegan
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We're always discussing the many reasons why veganism will better the planet — in addition to preventing future pandemics, a vegan lifestyle (and a vegan farm!) doesn't use animals for the use of their meat or byproducts, making it cruelty-free. Animal farms also contribute to massive amounts of methane being released into the atmosphere, and many are handled unsustainably, often letting large amounts of manure contaminate nearby water supplies. Gross.

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