Monday, March 13, 2017

Environmental Sustainability in Agriculture

Editor’s Note:  National Ag Day is proud to post this essay from Miles C. De La Fuente. His essay was selected by his peers to be featured on the Ag Day Blog. We value divergent opinions and recognize the hard work of all our essay contestants.

By Miles C. De La Fuente, Energy Institute High School
With a population of nine billion by the 2050, there are many different problems that must be solved to meet the requirements of a rising global middle-class and making a high quality of life sustainable for the future. In order to meet the agricultural demand of the population, and protect the environment from degradation, smarter farming techniques should be used to make the agricultural industry sustainable in the long-term, but also increase production.
Using more environmentally accountable farming practices that are economically viable for all farmers to use can increase the environmental sustainability of the industry. Practices, such as, rotating the types of crops farmed, planting cover crops to prevent erosion and enhancing soil quality are already popular techniques. (Farming Practices & Management, 2016) Using these techniques, farmers can limit their effects on the environment while also maintaining crop production. This also means, that food will be healthier and without dangerous pesticides. In conclusion, better farming practices are the first step to healthier food and a stable environment. This types of strategies should continue to be employed on a wide scale and should also be adopted by developing countries as soon as possible.
Technology also has a role to play in the use of more accountable farming practices. For example, integrated pest management (IPM) uses biological factors rather than relying on chemical pesticides, and genetically modified food and cattle can increase production and decrease costs. (Key, S., Ma, J. K., & Drake, P. M., 2008) These examples of genetic modification can solve issues in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), making them less susceptible to disease in cramped and overpopulated food-factories. (Natural Resources Conservation Center, 2014) In addition, genetic modification allows for the customization of the crops depending on the needs of the farm. In sum, genetic modification will play a large role in the farming practices of the future and feeding 9 billion people by 2050 and should be adopted globally to combat hunger in developing countries across the world.
Overall, a high population coupled with the growing global middle-class will increase the demand for cheap, healthy food; this demand can only be met by using genetic modification in hand with environmentally sustainable farming practices. Humanity can only achieve sustainability by using technology and doing so with responsibility. However, there is a long journey ahead if we are to build a world without hunger, and it begins here.
Key, S., Ma, J. K., & Drake, P. M. (2008, June 01). Genetically modified plants and human
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United Stated Department of Agriculture (2016, August 22). Farm Practices & Management.
United States Department of Agriculture. (2014, November 20). Natural Resources
Conservation Service. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from
Union of Concerned Scientists. (n.d.). Sustainable Agriculture Techniques. Retrieved January 20,