Why Is Sustainable Agriculture So Important And Where Is It Headed?

Since most producers are already adopting updated methods, why is sustainable agriculture so important for agribusiness? Experts have had concerns for years about global warming, and diminishing water quality with the continually growing world population has become measurable threats. 

This information should produce a sense of increased urgency and pressure to make necessary changes before it is too late. Furthermore, where is sustainable agriculture headed?

Agribusiness professionals understand the need to collect various data, from weather intelligence to monitoring crop and soil health. With DTN Agronomy, you can streamline data collection, easily apply agronomic insights, and proactively communicate with your growers and team. This operational intelligence is already helping numerous agribusinesses react and intervene to boost prosperity and save crops. 

Let’s take a closer look at sustainable agriculture practices and how you can ensure your business is finding its way to a sustainable future in the agricultural industry. 

Hand holding seedling

What is sustainable agriculture?

Sustainable agriculture is based on three core values:

  1. A healthy environment
    Nature responds better to cooperation than domination. Irresponsible farming in the past led to irreparable damage to the environment. The heavy machinery used in industrial farming is still considered one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, sustainable agriculture is dedicated to minimizing energy levels at each production stage.
  2. Economic prosperity
    A sustainable food system involves more than just farmers. It relies on cooperation and interaction between individuals and institutions, including researchers, farmworkers, unions, seed suppliers, retailers, and consumers. If local farmers benefit from teamwork in this way, their crop production enables them to put profits back into the local economy, creating a well-balanced community.
  3. Social and economic equality
    More than 1 billion people depend on farming a single plot of land as their income. Sustainable agriculture focuses on equality so local farmers can thrive and even maintain the soil that feeds them rather than struggle under a constant threat of being undercut by industrial farms. 

If food supply depends solely on one or more large industrial farms, and one of those companies faces a problem that affects their crop output, the food and agriculture sector could completely destabilize, with far-reaching consequences. In contrast, a decentralized sustainable agriculture system will remove the fear of one company’s financial troubles leading to massive food shortages. 

Farming is the only viable option for many people, especially in developing countries. Some governments provide funding to large industrial farms, resulting in overproduction and poor soil health. Crop prices in poorer countries then fall, forcing farmers to expand family-owned farms, often clearing away surrounding natural habitats for wildlife, leading to the destruction of ecosystems and more endangered species of animal and plant life. 

Sustainable agriculture does not support agricultural practices like Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Some of these operations squeeze more than 1000 animals into untenably small production centers. The methane outputs have been measured and can significantly affect the environment and the human population. 

Cover crops grown with chemical fertilizers and pesticides and then fed to animals in these feeding operations enter the meat and eggs provided by these animals, which subsequently impacts consumers’ health. Instead, sustainable farming allows animals to eat healthy, nutritious food and therefore be a more nutritional food source. 

Tractor spraying pesticides

The impact of farming on the population and environment

Today, to increase crop outputs and even the size of crops, many industrial farms prioritize profits over public health and safety by using inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. Why does this threaten our health and safety? Inorganic fertilizers use harmful chemicals, which permeate the soil and pollute groundwater and runoff, which causes potential harm to humans and the environment. 

These chemicals can remain in the environment for generations and significantly impact hormone levels in people and wildlife. In fact, according to one study, a 50% reduction in agricultural emissions could prevent approximately 200 thousand deaths per year in the 59 sampled countries.

Additionally, fertilizers used on large production cover crops don’t nourish the soil or growing plant sufficiently. Resulting crops are weak and more susceptible to drought, diseases, and pests. 

Consumers are also negatively impacted as this means less nutritious meals for families, leading to increased obesity rates, illness, and mineral deficiency. It is no surprise that sustainable farming techniques, including e-agriculture, positively affect the environment.


What can you do?

DTN has all the information and programs your agribusiness needs to overhaul your farming practices. DTN Agronomy simplifies data collection, and provides a comprehensive solution to Optimize your agronomic insights and brings them to scale by advancing communications and reporting with clients while enhancing field-level data backed by DTN data.

What are some benefits of this single solution? Here are several:

  • An intuitive, user-friendly interface that allows you to create and upload growers, farms and fields in no time at all 
  • Easily document important field observations with scouting trips
  • Efficiently export weather data and apply our accurate, field-level weather and environmental intelligence 
  • Adaptive data processing and applied meteorological expertise to transform data into actionable insights that improve yields and increase profits 
  • Easily share information within your organization and with growers 
  • Access to award-winning ag news and key agricultural commodity market information

Hands holding crop with globe

The future of sustainable agriculture

According to recent studies, the world population is expected to grow to 10 billion people by 2050. Are you and your business prepared? The continued increase in demand from the population and economic growth may not keep pace with our planet’s diminishing resources. As demand rises, shortages of water, land, and energy are produced. 

Simulations show that if agricultural practices aren’t corrected immediately, there will be dire food shortages; humankind and our planet will not survive. The change to sustainable agriculture is no longer an option rather a necessity. However, how can your agribusiness prosper and face challenges with confidence? 

Technology is undeniably essential in farming today. A farmer must embrace new ideas and avoid thinking, “this is how my father did it, and his father before him,” and so on. Our very survival depends on making significant changes to farming practices. 

It is time to commit to a trusted partner who will assist you in your efforts. Learn more about how you can utilize the DTN Agronomic platform to minimize financial and environmental risks and maximize crop yields and subsequent profits.