Sustainable Agriculture by dffhrtcv3



          Some thoughts….
Sustainability is….

… providing for the NEEDS of
 ALL people alive today, without
 jeopardizing future generations.
           Wants and Needs
 There is a difference between human wants
  and human needs.

 Gandhi said that the world could surely
  provide for the needs of the many but not
  the greed of the few.
A sustainable form of
agriculture must be….
     •Economically viable
    •Environmentally sound
         •Socially just
The Sustainability Triangle
              Social Equity

              The quest for

  Economic                     Environmental
   Vitality                     Integrity
UMass Sustainable Ag Class

  PLNTSOIL 265 – Fall Semester
Environmental Sustainability
 Biological fertilizer
 Integrated Pest Management
 Renewable energy
Biological fertilizer

green manures for fertility
Biological fertility

         Got Earthworms?
Biological fertility

Animals cycle nutrients
Cows provide a bit more manure
I let chickens “improve” my garden
Ecological Insect Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Renewable Energy

Biodiesel fuel
More Progress on Environmental
1. Compost for fertility
2. Pastures to feed animals & soil
3. Cover crops used
4. Legumes for nitrogen
5. Windbreaks
6. Conservation tillage
What about economic
          Are you in debt?
      Are you making a profit?
Borrow or repair?

Keeping up with the neighbors
Going Retail
            More Progress
     with Economic Sustainability
1.    Equipment is used and repaired
2.    Yields are good
3.    CSA provides money for investment
4.    Interns can trade work for education
5.    Farm supports other farm businesses
6.    No waste
So is social justice important to you?
Where is the opportunity?
Where is the diversity?
Where are the good jobs?
Who is making a profit?
U-Pick means You are involved
The farmers
are your
And corn is“in your face”
U.S. agriculture is “industrial”
Sustainable farming….

        …involve the neighbors!
It takes a village….

Community Supported Agriculture
Farm meetings….

           ….involve the kids!
          More Progress
     with Social Sustainability
1.   Donate food to the Food Bank
2. Working with apprentices
3. Pleasant environment
4. Healthy employees
5. Vacation time for family
6. Simple living
8. No machine noise
9. Farm products stay local
10. Supports neighbors
So what’s not sustainable about
agriculture today? Well, lets ask
 There is plenty of food - isn’t there?
 We’ve cleaned up the environment -
      haven’t we?
 Farming is hard work – nobody really wants
  to farm - do they?
 There will always be enough food for me -
      won’t there?
Is agriculture economically
viable? Well….
  •1935 – 6.8 million farms
  • Today – 2.1 million farms with
            1.3 million part time
  •McDonalds increased from 1000
  restaurants in 1968 to 28,000 today,
  with 5 new ones each day
  •The suicide rate among farmers and
  ranchers is 3X national average
•Is it environmentally
sound? Well…
 • Chemical fertilizer use has
 increased 10X since 1950

 •The Dead Zone in the Gulf of
 Mexico from nitrogen fertilizer
•Is it socially just?
 •Farm workers
   •Health care
 •Meatpacking plant workers
   •Injury rates
 •Fast food workers
   •3.5 million with a turnover rate of
And – lets look at the future …
Human History
   Water Shortages Today
 Major global problem areas
 Water Shortages in the US
We are pumping down geological water
 reserves which are not being replaced.

 Agriculture consumes about 85% of fresh
water in the U.S.
            Soil is running away!
 About 75% of US
  topsoil has already
  been lost.

 If you stepped
from the original prairie
to an Iowa corn field
today, it would be
a 6 foot step down.
And the big one!
 Humankind expends in one year an amount
 of fossil fuel that it took nature roughly a
 million years to produce.
Is that all?
 No, but its enough to make the point. The
  way we grow food in the United States is
  not sustainable.
We are a non-sustainable society
 Food production, land use, water use etc.
  are part of a larger problem affecting every
  aspect of our lives, including:
  –   Energy use
  –   Waste handling
  –   Pollution
  –   Population
  –   and on and on…..
     But how do I know if its
Is it cyclic?

Is it solar powered
Is it equitable?
Is it cyclic?
 One way ticket!

   Dig it up

               Use it up

                           Dump it out
This “seems” normal
      Natural    Goods and    Pollution, Waste
     Resources    Services   and Environmental
The limits are to…
 Both the source and the sink!

   Source is limited

                       Sink is limited
The answer is cyclic systems!
 A roundtrip ticket!

                         Send it back
   Dig it up

                Use it

                              Use it again

               Waste = food
Two paradigms (mental models)
 Industrial Agriculture = linear

 Sustainable Agriculture = cyclic
One of our big problems is the way we think
about the world!

Our “mental models”
Systems thinking looks below events and
          patterns of behavior
       (PLNTSOIL 597S – Ag Systems Thinking)

   of Behavior

Mental Models
Industrial Agriculture is…

 Efficient in the short term
 Provides relatively cheap food

                 …at what cost?
Isn’t it successful?
2003 Census Data
 2.1 million farms in US ($ > 1,000)
 940 million acres
But where are they?
 Two-three tenths of 1 percent in MA
 6 percent in Northeast (NY & PA)
 37 percent in the Midwest
 42 percent in the South
 Rest in the West
Sustainability requires more
      “eyes per acre”

     Got Earthworms?
Is agriculture in New England
sustainable? Not yet, but…
 Lots of local products
 Mostly environmentally sound
 “Relatively” healthy economically
 Lots of experiments to improve
 Good but could be better, especially…
  – Conditions for migrant labor
  – Use of fossil fuels
Can we be sustainable if….
… Farm  numbers decline?
…. One child remains hungry?
…. Biodiversity is sacrificed
Where’s the beef?
Concentrated in CAFO’s
Where they are fed grain
That is shipped from somewhere
Cattle Yards really pile it up...
The cow excrement from two
yards outside of Greeley, CO is
greater than human wastes from
Boston, St. Louis, Denver and
Atlanta combined.
But, but, but…..
Our hamburgers are really

Can we afford the tradeoff?
              Social Equity

              The quest for

  Economic                     Environmental
   Vitality                     Integrity
What if this was our model?



What if we lived our lives as if…
A healthy economy only is possible within a
 healthy society….


A healthy society is only possible within a
 healthy environment?
What if nature was our model?
We might appreciate Bali rice terraces…
…. Instead of this.
We might see more city farming
      (Havana, Cuba)
We might see more green roofs..
We might learn to use permaculture principles.
…. instead of this.
Biodiversity Loss
 Biodiversity loss leads to ‘desertification’
  (simplification in an ecological sense) and:
 Desertification always leads to symptoms such as:
   – Soil erosion, flooding & droughts increasing.
   – Increasing problems with noxious plants, diseases & insects,
     birds or small mammals.
   – Silting of rivers, dams & coastal shelves.
   – Drying up of wells, springs & rivers.
   – Poverty, social breakdown, violence & conflict.
   – Resource depletion & rising religious fundamentalism.
   – Blaming, finding scapegoats & genocide.
   – War and eventual fall of civilizations.

                                          Allen Savory
What is the root cause of
biodiversity loss?
 “Common Sense” tells us the root cause of
  biodiversity loss is:
   –   Overpopulation.
   –   Overstocking and overgrazing with livestock.
   –   Communal ownership of land.
   –   Poverty and no access to capital.
   –   Lack of education, training & technology.
   –   Lack western extension services.
   –   Not benefiting from global cash economy.
   –   Corrupt & incompetent governments, etc.
Africa Vs. G.W. Bush Home.
“Problem countries”.             “West Texas”
 Overpopulation                  Low & falling population
 Overstocking and                Few livestock left after 100 years
    overgrazing livestock            of destocking
   Communal ownership of           Private ownership deep love of
   Poverty and no access to
    capital                         Great wealth and easy access to
   Lack of education &              capital
    training                        Good universities & education
   Lack western extension          Excellent well funded and staffed
    services.                        extension services.
   Not benefiting from global      Benefiting from global cash
    cash economy.                    economy.
   Corrupt & incompetent           Basically good government with
    governments, etc.
                                     controlled corruption.
Common Denominator = Cause
 What is common to all situations now & in past?
  – Was it the political system?
  – Level of technology?
  – Possession of livestock?
  – Levels of knowledge?
  – Greed?
  – Short term self interest?
  – Or what ?
 Only one common denominator in every situation:

   Humans made the decisions.
You are having it your way!
We create the world….

 ….through out daily actions….

         ….based on how we see the world!
How and what we eat – counts!
Ethics and Power from Agrarianism to Consumerism
    Symposium and Saul O Sidore Memorial Lecture Series
          University of New Hampshire Durham, NH
                 April 25 - 27, 2004

The Fifth Wonderful Precept
    Aware of the suffering caused by
    unmindful consumption, I vow to
cultivate good health, both physical and
      mental, for myself, my family,
  and my society by practicing mindful
 eating, drinking, and consuming. I vow
to ingest only items that preserve peace,
           well-being, and joy.
You can help! Buy local…..
What else can I do?
 Demand local foods in the dining halls
 Don’t take more than you can eat
 Avoid fast foods
 Know a local farmer
 Know where your food comes from
 Grow your own
 Take kitchen wastes to a compost
 Make a worm compost in your kitchen
Who will create a
sustainable agriculture?

Well, who thinks and acts in
“sustainable time frames?
           Corporate Leaders = 3 months
           Politicians = 2 - 4 years
and        Child born in 1980 = 75 years

All the surveys say we care!
 True – but our actions say otherwise. We
  say we care about family, people, nature,
  and good food – but…

     …we eat fast food and buy overly
        packaged products.
Lack of sanity is…
 Saying one thing and doing another…

   When our daily actions are not
 consistent with our core values….
   …. we are no longer sane.
But, I’m only one person….

     What can one person do?…
And ……..

     I am awesome……
To learn more…..

210 French Hall

HONORS 397I – Consensus Decisions - Winter
PLNTSOIL 265 – Sustainable Ag – Fall
PLNTSOIL 290S – Sustainable Living – Spring
PLNTSOIL 397S – Dialogue on Ag Issues
PLNTSOIL 398P – Permaculture - Summer
PLNTSOIL 597S – Ag Systems Thinking – Spring

Shutesbury, MA
Barbara Kingsolver wrote in Small Wonder

Our revolution will have
 dancing and excellent food!

it is not necessary
         to do great things….
…..just small things
           with great love.

                  Mother Teresa
To treat life as less than a
miracle is to give up on it.

                    Wendell Berry

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