Sustainable Farming

How can farmers do the right thing and farm sustainably?

Use renewable sources of energy instead of non-renewable sources.

Use biological nitrogen fixation.

Use naturally-occurring materials instead of synthetic, manufactured materials.

Use on-farm resources as much as possible and recycle this.

Reduce or eliminate the use of materials that have the potential to harm the environment or the health of farmers, farm workers, or consumers ie poisons.

Use farming practices that reduce or eliminate environmental pollution with nitrates, toxic gases, or other materials generated by burning or overloading agro-ecosystems with nutrients.

Conserve Resources.

Conserve soil by sustaining soil nutrient and organic matter stocks.

Minimize erosion by planting perennial plants, using no-till or reduced tillage methods and mulching.  Tilling is the preparation of soil by digging, stirring or overturning it, implements may be machines like a tractor or hand tools like a rake or shovel.

Conserve Water.  Try dry farming.  This is a type of farming practiced in arid areas without irrigation by planting drought-resistant crops and maintaining a fine surface tilling or mulch that protects the natural moisture of the soil from evaporation.

Use efficient irrigation systems.

Conserve Energy

Use energy efficient technologies.

Solar water pumps are used for irrigation, drinking and livestock (animals on farms). The water from these pumps is clean and cheaper than water gained from using other forms of power.




People are busy assembling a mobile borehole driller (above) that can be used to make many holes and can be set up in one hour.




Conserve financial capital.  Keep bank debt to a minimum.  Reduce expenditures, keeping water bills to minimum, using rain water tanks.

Manage Ecological Relationships.  Re-establish ecological relationships that can occur naturally on the farm instead of reducing and simplifying them.  Manage pests, diseases, and weeds instead of “controlling” them.  Use intercropping and cover cropping.  Enhance beneficial biota (organisms) in soils ie., mycorrhizae which are specialised roots that extend from existing roots, increasing their surface area and dissolving nutrients with built-in enzymes, fertilizing soil for plants.  Rhizobia make nitrogen available to plants and live in symbiosis with legumes like beans in root nodules in the soil.  Rhizobia are free-living nitrogen fixers.

Encourage beneficial insects (sometimes called beneficial bugs) which are any of a number of species of insects that perform valued services like pollination and pest control.




                           Ladybugs feed on aphids and other insects

         A Lacewing feed on moth eggs, mites and aphids (plant lice)

Garden spiders feed on insects and do not go into houses and are mostly not poisonous, so let them be.

Adapt plants and animals to the ecological conditions of the farm rather than modifying the farm to meet the needs of the crops and animals.

Diversify landscapes on the farm ie. maintain undisturbed areas as buffer zones to lessen the effects of the elements.  Use contour and strip tillage.  Maintain riparian buffer zones.  Use rotational grazing.  Use multiple crops to diversify seasonal timing of production over the year. 

Empower People to ensure that local people control their development process.  Use indigenous knowledge and promote multi-directional transfer of knowledge, as opposed to "top-down" knowledge transfer.  Experts and farmers should share knowledge, not "impose" it.