Sustainable agriculture

Sustainable agriculture is farming in sustainable ways meeting society's present food and textile needs, without compromising the ability for current or future generations to meet their needs.[1] It can be based on an understanding of ecosystem services. There are many methods to increase the sustainability of agriculture. When developing agriculture within sustainable food systems, it is important to develop flexible business process and farming practices.[2] Agriculture has an enormous environmental footprint, playing a significant role in causing climate change, water scarcity, water pollution, land degradation, deforestation and other processes;[3] it is simultaneously causing environmental changes and being impacted by these changes.[4] Sustainable agriculture consists of environment friendly methods of farming that allow the production of crops or livestock without damage to human or natural systems. It involves preventing adverse effects to soil, water, biodiversity, surrounding or downstream resources—as well as to those working or living on the farm or in neighboring areas. Elements of sustainable agriculture can include permaculture, agroforestry, mixed farming, multiple cropping, and crop rotation.[5]

Shade-grown coffee, a form of polyculture in imitation of natural ecosystems. Trees provide resources for the coffee plants such as shade, nutrients, and soil structure; the farmers harvest coffee and timber.

Developing sustainable food systems contributes to the sustainability of the human population. For example, one of the best ways to mitigate climate change is to create sustainable food systems based on sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture provides a potential solution to enable agricultural systems to feed a growing population within the changing environmental conditions.[4] Numerous sustainability standards and certification systems exist, including organic certification, Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, UTZ Certified, GlobalGAP, Bird Friendly, and the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C).[6]