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sustainable agriculture

a farming system that is ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially just — a system capable of maintaining productivity indefinitely. For several decades, a contentious and often philosophical debate about what sustainable farming practices should look like has waged. There is now a growing consensus that it would be better to define sustainability in terms of objectively quantifiable, outcome-based metrics. Thus cropping systems could be compared in terms of land use efficiency, input toxicity, and carbon and water footprints. Metrics are expressed based on output per area (e.g. bushels per acre, tons per hectare). This is important because systems that involve low inputs often lead to low land use efficiency, creating pressure to clear more land for agriculture. See also sustainability, sustainability index.

... today nearly a billion of our brothers and sisters are chronically malnourished. By 2050, Earth will be home to 9.25 billion people, mostly in developing countries. Our hard-fought dream of prosperity for all of humanity could slip through our fingers. We have about 15 years to develop a framework for sustainable land-based prosperity; after that, the demographic wave will be too big. The challenges for this framework include increased pressures on the land, decreased water resources, severe loss of biodiversity and an unfocused political will to respond. We should not go down without a fight. This is the challenge of our generation. ~Marty Matlock, 2010

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