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11 Facts About Sustainable Agriculture

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  1. 40% of today’s global population works in agriculture, making it the single largest employer in the world.^[CGIAR. "Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2012: Lessons in Sustainable Landscapes and Livelihoods.” 2012. Web Accessed May 2, 2015.]
  2. Sustainable agriculture is the rejection of the industrial approach to food production (aka factory farms). It integrates three main things: environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity.^[National Geographic Society. "Sustainable Agriculture." Web Accessed May 2, 2015.]
  3. The ecological and social price of factory farms is: erosion, deforestation, depleted and contaminated soil and water resources, loss of biodiversity, labor abuses, and the decline of family farms.^[National Geographic Society. "Sustainable Agriculture." Web Accessed May 2, 2015.]
  4. The concept of sustainable agriculture embraces a wide range of techniques, including organic, free-range, low-input, holistic, and biodynamic.^[National Geographic Society. "Sustainable Agriculture." Web Accessed May 2, 2015.]
  5. With this type of farming, chemical pesticides or fertilizers aren’t necessary, crop diversity is encouraged, and precipitation provides irrigation water.^[National Geographic Society. "Sustainable Agriculture." Web Accessed May 2, 2015.]
  6. Organic farming typically requires 2.5 times more labor than conventional farming, but it yields 10 times the profit.^[The Center for Sustainability at Aquinas College. "Sustainable Agriculture." Web Accessed May 2, 2015.]
  7. Organic food products saw a 7.7% growth rate in 2010, compared to 2009. Organic food accounts for nearly 4% of all food products sold in the U.S.^[Center for Sustainable Systems at University of Michigan. “U.S. Food System Factsheet.” 2014. Web Accessed May 2, 2015.]
  8. In contrast, 88% of corn and 94% of soybeans were genetically modified in 2011. This number was less than 20% in 1996.^[Center for Sustainable Systems at University of Michigan. “U.S. Food System Factsheet.” 2014. Web Accessed May 2, 2015.]
  9. “Healthy” soil is an important component of sustainability. Methods to enhance and protect the productivity of the soil include using cover crops, compost/manures, avoiding traffic on wet soils, and maintaining soil cover with plants/mulches.^[National Geographic Society. "Sustainable Agriculture." Web Accessed May 2, 2015.]
  10. The goal of sustainable farmers is to develop efficient, biological systems that don’t need high levels of material inputs (aka harmful chemicals).^[Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis. "What is Sustainable Agriculture?" Web Accessed May 2, 2015.]
  11. There are 4 key sustainability goals: Satisfy human food needs, and contribute to biofuel needs. Enhance environmental quality. Sustain the economic viability of agriculture. Enhance the quality of life for farmers, farm workers and society as a whole.^[Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis. "What is Sustainable Agriculture?" Web Accessed May 2, 2015.]
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