The world’s population is increasing rapidly, and that is putting the natural resources used in consumption production under immense pressure, and these resources are being depleted in an accelerated rate.
The world’s population currently trails somewhere around 7.8 billion at the moment, and it is projected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050, and a further increase to 11.2 billion in 2100. Given these projections, the world of agriculture is seriously strained to supply the food needs for the rapidly increasing population.
Besides, current agricultural practices that depend on heavy fertilization, synthetic insecticides, additives, crops supplements, hormones, and GMO seeds, pose great concerns the quality of crops and food that is being produced.
These intensive farming trends are putting pressure on the environment, climate, and pose threats to global biodiversity through direct impact on resources, flora, and fauna.
Since the production of healthy food is one of the major challenges to feed the world population, food production industries and especially farmers could serve humanity in achieving what could be the foundation for producing a portion of food that respects the quality without sacrificing the needed quantity.
Scientific communities working on the environmental issues look keen on developing a system that harmonizes food demand with production quality. A better agriculture system could support environmental, social, and economic issues.
Anyhow, the consumers at large would prefer a system that provides them naturally grown food free of pesticide residues and harmful effects of modified and synthetic chemicals that is are negatively affecting their health.
Sustainable agriculture finds the solution for it focuses on long-term strategies to grow food crops and livestock together with the minimal effects on the environment, human health. This system pays attention to conserving water, reducing the impacts of pesticides and fertilizers, reducing carbon footprints, and creating a balance in the atmospheric exchangeable gases. Besides, sustainable agriculture promotes biodiversity in the selected environment and helps the farming community improve their livelihood, and provide financial stability and raising their living standards.
Sustainable agriculture holds several cultivation methodologies that support the system itself and minimizes its dependency on outside sources and costly inputs. It involves growing crops that can fix nutrients at the soil level needed to grow food crops for humans and livestock, and minimizing the need for frequent applications of fertilizers and chemical additives.
Crop rotation practices suppresses weed germination and doesn’t allow plant pests and diseases to dominate in the system. It minimizes the application of herbicides and insecticides and keep changing that keeps infestations under control. A sustainable system also prefers adopting a mixed crops as opposed to mono crops. Mixing crops minimizes the risk of diseases and pests. If one crop fails for some reason, other crops may have the chances of survival because some pests and diseases. A sustainable growing system also utilizes less water for irrigation, by using precision irrigation techniques, and water-conserving equipment that save a lot of water otherwise wasted by conventional irrigation methods. Considering the innovations in agriculture technology and utilizing them in a sustainable system could help farmers cope with the challenges never addressed before.
Benefits of Agriculture sustainability:
Since a Sustainable system reduces its reliance on nonrenewable energy sources such as chemical fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and growth hormones, this largely reduces the chances that chemical residues would accumulate in the underground water resources that prevent pollution and contamination of such reservoirs. Moreover, there is no more accumulation and leaching of such residues that degrade soil quality and subsurface water. As a result, the system grows healthy crops that don’t hold particles or residue of pollutants, making food a good fit for human consumption.
Conserving the Environment:
The system allows conserving an environment with the least disturbance to the resources and all living creatures.
Sustainable Farming reduces and minimizes costs of seeds, fertilizers, and other inputs, contrary to conventional and intensive farming systems that spend much more on cropping inputs and soil additives.
Agriculture sustainability aims at producing zero waste in the ecosystem. Crops feed the livestock, and as a reward, their manure is utilized by crops for increasing their biomass. The manure decomposes in the soil and allows the growing of soil microbes that add fertility of the soils. The crops supplement each other and produce a conducive environment for the upcoming crops. The resources get shared by the members of the system. This equilibrium establishes a ground for the survival of all living things, and it leads to achieving more quantity with better quality.
Climate Change and How it impacts Agriculture:
The anticipated deviations in the climate, like increased CO2, temperature and rainfall, rapid nitrogen deposition, Ultra Violet-B radiation, etc. impact agricultural food production and distribution patterns. To fulfill food demand for the ever-growing world population, the impacts of climate change needs to be considered and incorporated into the future of cropping systems for sufficient agricultural production.
The world depends on fossilized fuel to meet their energy needs whereas, the most common fossilized fuels in use are oil, coal, and gas that emit large portions of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Industrial and agricultural activities also add a significant amount of Nitrous oxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere. Communally, the gazes absorb infrared radiation and enhance the greenhouse effect. It is also estimated that terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems absorb 50% of Carbon dioxide, whereas the other 50% remain in the atmosphere. Doubling these Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere will lead to an increase in temperatures from 1.5 to 4.5°C globally. Additional studies also reveal that the rise may be observed throughout the world, unequally. In response, higher latitudes may experience more temperature rise than the equatorial climates. Similarly, it also predicts a change in precipitation patterns where some regions will receive more rainfalls than what they currently experience, and some others will receive less rain.
Agriculture totally depends on the climate and weather. This industry is facing the pressure to adequately feed the world population. Despite several innovations and splendid efforts by climate researchers, no one really knows to what extent, where, when, and how a change would occur, but it is a known fact that carbon dioxide concentrations are causing a rise in global temperatures. this rise have severe impacts for crop and food production, and some regions may face severe food shortages in the future. Since agriculture resources are already under pressure due to intensive use, a rapidly growing population may face food insecurity. Since there is uncertainty in the magnitude, timing, and dimensional patterns of climate change, policymakers need to emphasize on its prediction methodologies. At the moment, such models would cost little to prevent and mitigate the impacts of climate change, but theses costs may become much higher in the future with devastating effects on agriculture and food production systems.
As cropping patterns, crop varieties, and adaptability determine the yield of a food system, it looks imperative to investigate the response of different crop plants to changing environmental patterns. As several crops and species behave differently to higher atmospheric Carbon dioxide, temperature, ultraviolet radiation, rainfall, and pollutants, further adaptability research is requiring on the crop plants that contribute higher to human food consumption in different ecological zones of the world.
Doubling CO2 deliberation and connected higher temperatures result in soil degradation causing the soil nutrients to deplete. Furthermore, the higher temperatures stimulate microbial breathing, and as roots absorb available nutrients, this will intensify the competition between soil microbes and the plants for available nutrients. Some plants can strengthen their root system and may depend on a deep rooted-system to flourish.
If agriculture is supposed to meet the future challenges of food security, rural development, farmers’ livelihood, natural resource development, and protect the environment, it needs to focus on the improvement of food production systems and reducing the risks associated with climate change.
To achieve that, good soil management, agronomic, cultural, and pest management practices are key to fight weather and environmental extremes. Drought and heat resistant crop varieties with their ability to adapt to varying climatic stresses in different zones would be an added advantage. Similar practices need to be adopted in the livestock sector to boost milk and meat production to meet increasing population demand. How climate patterns would impact different scenarios in agriculture production is not yet clear, and the debate is on. Agriculture generates livelihood for millions of people across the globe and helps in strengthening global production systems. Although farmers personally spend their lives in the underprivileged environment. Several million farmers are facing an increase in water stress, occasional flooding, malnutrition, and infectious diseases that need the attention of the entire world.
Biodiversity: Conservations & Importance:
Biodiversity represents the countless types of living creatures on the planet, which includes plants, animals, microbes, and the environment where they live. These are the biological resources that represent different species of all living creatures that make an ecosystem. Its building stands on four main pillars. While its purpose is to align these pillars in a way that each one gets benefits from the others. Because of its amazing features, biodiversity performs an essential part in conserving the environment.
The existence of plants on the planet is the source of food and shelter for humans and livestock. Biodiversity in plants deals with identifying, developing, and using thousands of crop plant species for human and livestock consumption. The most important plants that provide us oxygen and food include cereals, pulses, herbs, trees, shrubs, ferns, and vines along with vegetables, microgreens, and fruits. Since the number of food-producing crop plants is limited, it becomes necessary to support the continuity of such plant species for augmented conservational pressure and facilitating the farming community to grow and breed crops that could withstand unfavorable growing conditions within an environment, such as drought, heat stress, low soil fertility, extremes temperature, and flooding.
Biodiversity in Animals:
Biodiversity in Plants:
Like plants, the introduction of several animal breeds and species favor livestock development, and their domestication is a common biological resource and source for funding rural livelihoods. Although several livestock species became extinct in the past few decades, new livestock breeds are emerging, and it is our responsibility to help them maintain their continuity in the system.
Types of Conservation:
It comprises the complete genetic information that plants, animals, and microorganisms possess within an environment, and it helps in improving, modifying, and accepting the survival mechanisms and adaptability to a diverse environment. It often induces using gene modification and selective breeding procedures that ensure the selected species to survive, produce, and reproduce in a better way in a diversified ecosystem. It also ensures the continuity of modified organisms by crossing them with the wild and extinct gene pool resources, if an opportunity exists.
It refers to the species diversity and measures in terms of their abundance, richness, and taxonomic features. When species represent an equal abundance in the ecosystem, their variations and diversity become significant.
It deals with the fluctuations within an ecosystem and its location-specific. There may be several ecosystems within one geographical location or region. Alpine meadows, wetlands, deserts, mangroves, and grasslands are common ecosystems.
It represents the total number of species spread across different ecosystems in the world, such as the conservation of 1.5 million plant and animal species comprising 22% plants and 70% animals, globally.
Importance of Biodiversity Conservation:
Economic Growth and Poverty Alleviation:
Humans get several advantages from the natural environment such as firewood, fiber, food, construction material, industrial and medicinal products. Studies reveal that more than 25000 plant species produce almost 25% traditional medicines. The livelihoods of a vast majority of rural dwellers derive from pastures, wetlands, forests, and water. Timber is another source of income in Sub-Saharan Africa, and these ecosystems are a source of inspiration and tourism for several countries.
Continuity of various species:
Biodiverse systems are the biggest source of total oxygen production through photosynthesis. Moreover, pollinators especially honey bees and birds play a vital role in the continuity of species through cross-pollination add. The plants which are dependent upon the Pollinator regulate climate, improve air quality, recycle CO2, and improve the water quality. Besides, most of the micronutrients, such as folic acid, calcium, fluoride, and vitamins A and C are gained primarily from pollinator-dependent activities.
Along with producing harmony and coexistence between different organisms within the environment, ecological equilibrium is achieved through maintaining a balance in oxygen and Carbon dioxide ratios in the system that is dependent on the presence of sizeable biodiversity in any ecosystem. Carbon dioxide accumulation leads to global warming. Soil microorganisms decompose organic matter that adds to the soil fertility in a balanced ecosystem. Otherwise, not possible from the external sources to convert such a colossal mass for crop productivity. Moreover, this equilibrium helps in maintaining local, micro, and regional climates that determine the frequency of precipitation and temperature fluctuations in any ecosystem. Agriculture Sustainability, Climate Change, and Biodiversity are all interconnected phenomenon. Agriculture sustainability is achieved through the conservation of biodiversity in any ecosystem with its full potential. If we succeed with conserving biodiversity, there is no reason that we can’t sustain productivity in agriculture. With the real implication of biodiversity conservations, the overall agriculture would be least affected from climate change and related aspects such as physiological stress, extreme temperatures, floods, soil erosion, and desertification that result in occasional crop failure.