Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture is the efficient production of safe, high quality products in a way that protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic conditions of farmers and their local communities, whilst safeguarding the health and welfare of all farmed species.

A sustainable food supply requires sustainable agricultural production systems. These production systems can be defined as sustainable if the outputs of all products harvested are balanced by inputs back to the system (Lal, 2010).

Unsustainable agricultural systems lead to a decline in soil condition over time resulting in reduced yields and profitability, and increased fertilisers and other inputs. If these inputs are not balanced, a range of impacts including eutrophication of water supplies, soil structure decline, loss of soil biota, erosion and soil acidification can occur. The growing demand for fresh food requires innovation that addresses the economic, environmental and social pillars of sustainable agriculture (Figure 2). Growing global populations and increasing affluence are expected to lead to a doubling of demand for high quality foods by 2050 (FAO, 2009). To meet this demand with limited resources, densely populated areas may need to become or remain food producers, and a sustainable intensification of agriculture is needed in urban, peri-urban and regional areas.