If the last few years have been any indication that the US needs to switch to sustainable agriculture, now is definitely the time. Farmers in places like California, especially, are feeling the hurt after several seasons of serious drought and a lack of freshwater supplies. Water isn’t the only issue, though, and experts in the field are pleading with American farmers to make a sustainable switch.
Increased Demand for Cleaner, Less Wasteful Agriculture
More experts in the field than ever before – including the farmers themselves – recognize that we need to make a huge societal shift into a cleaner, greener, less water-dependent farming that keeps people fed with quality, nutrient-rich foods. Though there are plenty of people who think the sustainable agriculture is new, the truth is that it has been out there for decades but has been ignored in favor of cheaper but less effective farming practices.
In the last few years, innovations in farming technology have created products that allow farmers to grow crops with less water or increase yields with the same amount of water, thus providing a significant return on their initial investments on those products. One of these, AquiMax, is a copolymer-based soil amendment designed to help retain more water, reduce irrigation cycles, improve yields, and enhance plant-available moisture.
Food Sustainability Index
The Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation, or BCFN, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to researching how various factors influence food production and consumption, produced a food sustainability index for 67 countries including the United States. Though the US scores high in food loss and waste, it scores very low when it comes to the environmental impact of agriculture on water. In California, it is estimated that 80% of the state’s entire freshwater supply goes to agriculture, which means droughts cause real problems for not only the farmers there, but also the everyday consumers and the planet as a whole.
The Biggest Issue in the US
Per a representative from the BCFN, Katarzyna Dembska, the US demand for meat is one of the biggest problems the US faces today. Because US citizens consume 225 more grams of meat per person per day than the global average, US farms must produce enough animal feed to meet meat production demands. As a result, more land is set aside for feed farming than for organic farming, which is problematic. What’s more, the US suffers from a serious lack of diversity in its crops, especially since many crops come from areas where drought is commonplace. Farmers often plant safely to ensure at least some crop success in these locations.
Though the US doesn’t fare well in sustainable agriculture, the same can be said for the rest of the developed world. Experts from organizations like the BCFN continue to urge farmers worldwide to make the switch to more sustainable farming practices, which include the use of innovative soil amendment technologies that can increase yields and protect crops, even in places like California where drought is simply a part of life for farmers.