The most important issues related to water quality involve salinization and contamination
of ground and surface waters by pesticides, nitrates and selenium. Salinity has become a
problem wherever water of even relatively low salt content is used on shallow soils in
arid regions and/or where the water table is near the root zone of crops.
Another way in which agriculture affects water resources is through the destruction of
riparian habitats within watersheds. The conversion of wild habitat to agricultural land
reduces fish and wildlife through erosion and sedimentation, the effects of pesticides,
removal of riparian plants, and the diversion of water. The plant diversity in and around
both riparian and agricultural areas should be maintained in order to support a diversity
of wildlife. This diversity will enhance natural ecosystems and could aid in agricultural
Modern agriculture is heavily dependent on non-renewable energy sources, especially
petroleum. In sustainable agricultural systems, there is reduced reliance on non-renewable
energy sources and a substitution of renewable sources or labor to the extent that is economically feasible.
Many agricultural activities affect air quality. Pesticide drift from spraying; and nitrous
oxide emissions from the use of nitrogen fertilizer.
Soil erosion continues to be a serious threat to our continued ability to produce adequate food.
"Healthy" soil is a key component of sustainability; that is, a healthy soil will produce
healthy crop plants that have optimum vigor and are less susceptible to pests. While many
crops have key pests that attack even the healthiest of plants, proper soil, water and
nutrient management can help prevent some pest problems brought on by crop stress or
nutrient imbalance. Furthermore, crop management systems that impair soil quality often
result in greater inputs of water, nutrients, pesticides, and/or energy for tillage to maintain yields.
Efficient use of inputs. Many inputs and practices used by conventional farmers are also used
in sustainable agriculture. Sustainable farmers, however, maximize reliance on natural, renewable,
and on-farm inputs. Equally important are the environmental, social, and economic impacts of a particular strategy.
Growers frequently ask if synthetic chemicals are appropriate in a sustainable farming system.
Sustainable approaches are those that are the least toxic and least energy intensive, and yet
maintain productivity and profitability.
Consideration of farmer goals and lifestyle choices. Management decisions should reflect not
only environmental and broad social considerations, but also individual goals and lifestyle
choices. Management decisions that promote sustainability, nourish the environment, the
community and the individual.
In addition to strategies for preserving natural resources and changing production practices,
sustainable agriculture requires a commitment to changing public policies, economic institutions,
and social values. Strategies for change must take into account the complex, reciprocal and
ever-changing relationship between agricultural production and the broader society.
The Economic, Social & Political Context
Food and agricultural policy. Existing federal, state and local government policies often
impede the goals of sustainable agriculture. New policies are needed to simultaneously
promote environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity.
For example, commodity and price support programs could be restructured to allow farmers
to realize the full benefits of the productivity gains made possible through alternative
practices. Marketing orders and cosmetic standards could be amended to encourage reduced pesticide use.
By helping farmers to adopt practices that reduce chemical use and conserve scarce resources,
sustainable agriculture research and education can play a key role in building public support
for agricultural land preservation. Educating land use planners and decision-makers about
sustainable agriculture is an important priority. The close proximity of newly developed
residential areas to farms is increasing the public demand for environmentally safe farming practices.
Consumers play a critical role in creating a sustainable
food system through their purchases. Consumers send strong messages to producers, retailers
and others in the system about what they think is important. Food cost and nutritional
quality have always influenced consumer choices. The challenge now is to find strategies
that broaden consumer perspectives, so that environmental quality, resource use, and social
equity issues are also considered in shopping decisions.
Consumers and the Food System
The argument can be supported that ecoAgra™ Bio Plant Protect is efficient at lowering greenhouse gas
emissions by lowering carbon dioxide levels, as plants sprayed with ecoAgra™ Bio Plant Protect make
more sugar. As a final bonus, the use of ecoAgra™ Bio Plant Protect can lower carbon dioxide output and
should be eligible to be traded for Carbon Credits, around the world.
Worldwide, about 3 billion kgs of pesticides are applied to crops each year at a cost of
almost $40 billion. Of this amount, approximately 500 million kgs of more than 600 different
pesticides are being applied in the U.S. alone at a cost of $10 billion. Paradoxically, despite
the vast increase in the volume of toxic pesticides used over the past 30-40 years globally to
control crop diseases, the amount of crop losses due to pests has increased from 31% to 37%.
Shockingly, despite a 10-fold increase in pesticide usage in the U.S. from 1945-2000, crop
losses from insect damage have doubled from 7% to 13%.(Pimental, Pan-UK 2003).
This ever increasing use of toxic petrochemical based pesticides is taking its toll on personnel
as well as the environment. The EPA estimates 300,000 farmers and workers were poisoned last
year in the U.S. Worldwide, pesticides cause 26 million reported cases of non-fatal poisoning
each year (Richter, 2002) of which 3 million require hospitalization, 750,000 come down with
chronic illnesses and 220,000 are fatally afflicted.(Hart and Pimental, 2002). The unreported
case numbers are believed to be much higher.