According to United Nations population statistics, the world population grew by 30%, or 1.6 billion humans, between 1990 and 2010. This number is expected to rise to 10.5 billion by 2050! To meet the needs of this sharply rising population farmers will have to produce more food on the same land, using the same resources, putting significant pressure on the environment at large. With over a billion livelihoods already dependent on farming for, there is a growing concern over how such large quantities of food can be produced with limited resources.
Agriculture fulfils 80% of the total world food demand.
Agriculture accounts for 70% of the total world water demand.
Agriculture fulfils 30% of total world energy demand.
Agriculture & Forest lands hold over 30% of the climate solutions but receive only 3% of the climate finance.
That is why sustainable agriculture is slowly making headlines as a new way to tackle this problem.
What is Sustainable Agriculture?
Sustainable agriculture is a methodology designed on the principles of environmental sustainability, preserve the earth’s natural resources such as soil and water, while producing the best possible quality of food for its population. Sustainable agriculture is also scalable and can easily be implemented in small scale farms or even home gardens where single families grow their own vegetables and fruits.
Some of the goals of sustainable agriculture development are:
Increase profitability for the farming community
Promote environmental wellness
Enhance the quality of life for farmers
Meet the world’s increasing food production needs
Benefits of Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainable agriculture usually includes a wide variety of production practices, including conventional and organic. For instance, several exclusive programs integrate bio-solutions with conventional crop protection products benefiting the total crop production. Some of the benefits of sustainable farming include:
Production of enough food, fibre and fuel to meet the demands of a sharply growing population.
Environmental sustainability and expansion of the supply of natural resources.
Sustaining the economic feasibility of agriculture systems
Current Sustainable Agriculture Trends
At UPL we have a 360-degree approach to sustainability, and we work directly with farmers to put our ideas into practice from the ground-up. For instance, UPL’s Product Stewardship program offers safe services and products that are managed through the food lifecycle to minimise risk to the environment and human health. UPL’s intervention begins at the product research stage and continues through the manufacturing, packaging and transportation processes. Responsible container management, integrated crop pest management and the safe disposal of obsolete stock are some of the steps the program takes to ensure complete sustainability at every stage.
At each of these steps, UPL ensures organic and bio-rational solutions that enhance efficacy and take into account the toxicological, eco-toxicological and environmental factors. The Product Stewardship program ensures the sustainable and ethical use of technology while complying with all relevant legislations and regulations pertaining to individual countries.
Data and Analytics
Data science is no longer restricted to companies in the technology and financial industries. It is also changing the way farmers and agricultural professionals make decisions. Modern agriculture technologies are connected to a centralized system, also called the Internet of Things, and allows farmers to gather data from the soil, water, and minerals present in the farm. This data is then mapped with external information sources like weather stations and satellites to help farmers optimize their farming decisions. UPL stands behind several Agtech initiatives such as using formulation technology for crop protection or Plant Stress and Stimulation Pipeline programs that help with crop production.
Vertical farming is one of the sustainable agriculture methods that reduce the dependency on water, labour, and soil to generate reliable crop yields. It promotes environmental sustainability by producing crops stacked above another in a confined and controlled environment. With the help of shelves mounted vertically, it reduces the land needed to grow crops and helps them thrive in limited spaces. Most vertical farms are hydroponic or aeroponic, grown in a nutrient-dense bowl of water or their roots nourished with water and nutrients.
Sustainable agriculture development has come a long way in helping save the planet and increasing crop yields so that no one sleeps hungry. The time to completely embrace sustainable agriculture methods is now – for a better life and a better existence. Without sustainable agriculture no sustainable world is possible. To practice sustainable agriculture, we need to adopt agriculture practices to increase yield per drop of water and per unit of energy, making the world and its environment more prosperous for all life forms.
Dr Mritunjay Chaubey
Head of Environment & Sustainability, UPL