Sustainable agriculture

How to shape the future of farming?

Find out about the importance of sustainable agriculture, potential solutions to achieve it and how you can contribute. The future of farming is here!

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Today we can!

Agriculture is the world's largest industry. Intensive agriculture as it has been practiced since the 1960s has very high yields, but depletes the soil and pollutes the environment: greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, etc.

The recent awareness of the limits of natural resources and pollution of soil, air and water, is pushing for sustainable farming. What are sustainable agriculture solutions?

01. Solutions

Sustainable agriculture solutions

The Solar Impulse Label is granted to innovative sustainable agriculture solutions that meet high standards of sustainability and profitability.

Each solution goes through a strict assessment process performed by independent experts.

Photo by Adele Payman on Unsplash
Sustainable agriculture

02. Definition

What is sustainable agriculture?

Green agriculture is the application of the sustainable development principles to agriculture: ensuring the production of food, wood and fibers while respecting the ecological, economic and social limits that ensure the durability of this production. For instance, sustainable farming minimises the use of pesticides that can harm the health of farmers and consumers.

Key principles are linked to sustainable agriculture:

  • 1. Develop efficient, self-sufficient and economical production systems that provide decent incomes
  • 2. Preserve and protect biodiversity and territories
  • 3. Optimize the use of natural resources
  • 4. Manage the quality of air, water and soil
  • 5. Increase energy efficiency in food production and distribution

03. Methods

Sustainable agriculture practices

Sustainable farming methods include:

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crop rotation

Crop rotation and diversity

Crop rotation is the practice of growing a variety of different crops on the same plot in sequenced seasons. Polyculture is an important element of soil fertility management and pests, and therefore an asset for increasing yields.

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cover crops

Cover crops

Cover crop is an intermediate culture between two production cultures. Its main function is to protect land against erosion and enhance soil quality.The use of cover crops reduces the need for chemicals such as fertilizers.

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no till farming

No-till farming

Reducing or avoiding tillage allows to grow crops without disturbing the soil arrangement and thus reduce erosion, but also increases the amount of infiltrating water, boosts organic matter retention and nutrient cycle.

Photo by Russell IPM on Flickr
ipm method

Integrated pest management

IPM is based on experimentation and observation, allowing to develop crops in harmony with their environment and make them profitable. It takes into account biological methods of plant protection and ensures their integration, in order to control the development of pests while minimizing the use of chemical pesticides.

Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

Agroforestry & natural animal raising

Agroforestry is the association of trees and crops or animals on the same plot. This ancestral practice allows a better use of resources, a greater biological diversity and the creation of a microclimate favorable to yield increase. Likewise, a smart integration of animal production can be a recipe for more efficient crops and profitable farms.

Photo by Prashanth Vishwanathan on Flickr
solar panel

Renewable energy use

For agriculture to be sustainable, using clean, efficient and renewable energies is crucial. Examples of renewable energies and energy efficiency in agroindustry systems include solar irrigation, geothermal heating and drip irrigation.

Smart farming and precision agriculture play a crucial part in sustainable agriculture, using big data and new technologies such as IoT, drone imagery and smartphone apps to harvest as much matter and products as possible, while consuming less energy and inputs (fertilizers, phytosanitary products, water).

04. Benefits

Sustainable agriculture advantages

The 3 main goals and benefits of sustainable farming are:

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Hand holding sapling soil

Environmental protection

The first advantage of sustainable agriculture is the protection of the environment, reducing erosion and natural resource degradation, improving air and water quality, increasing biodiversity, as well as decreasing carbon emissions.

Photo by Rod Waddington on Flickr
organic vegetables

Public health improvement

Sustainable agriculture don’t use hazardous pesticides and fertilizers. As a result, farmers are able to produce safer and healthier food for consumers and surrounding communities.

Photo by Ferran Feixas on Unsplash
paddy field

Economic and social equity

Another benefit of sustainable farming methods is that they provide decent income, but also jobs, food and other goods and services for the majority of people now living in poverty. Besides, it allows to boost rural territories and create social links between the rural and urban world.

Farmers in rice field

05. Challenges

Sustainable agriculture challenges

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1. Food security and productivity

Sustainable agriculture will have to prove itself facing with intensive agriculture. Even though it is more reasonable, it cannot offer the same short-term returns. With the growing population and the persistently high levels of hunger and malnutrition, sustainable agriculture yields need to address the food security issue by producing more in less time, while using fewer natural resources.

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2. Natural resources availability

The other big challenge that green agriculture is facing is undoubtedly the rapid degradation and depletion of natural resources.

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A challenge, #1000 Solutionsto change the world

Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label

A label focused on both the environment and profitability.

For the first time a label proves the economic profitability of solutions that protect the environment. The Solar Impulse Foundation is selecting 1,000 solutions that protect the environment in a profitable way and awarding them the Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions Label.

Collaborating with independent experts and with renowned institutions, the World Alliance proposes to evaluate its members solutions free of charge. The Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions label will offer a competitive edge to innovators and a guarantee of quality to solution seekers.

Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label

A label focused on both the environment and profitability.