Sustainable agriculture is a management of the agricultural production aiming at minimizing it environmental impact by optimizing the inputs (phytosanitary products, fertilizers, animal feeding, etc.) while maintaining (and even improving) economic profitability. considering that, from a so-called optimal dose, their effectiveness is no longer proportional. In order to ensure the economic profitability of the treatments, chemicals are therefore only allowed at the maximum dose of reaching this threshold of optimal efficiency.
Sustainable agriculture is thus a voluntary approach adopted in a global vision of farming. Farming practices are likely to change with weather conditions, technical progress and legislation.
Decision-making requires a good knowledge of the farm and its environment. For example, fertilization is based on the estimation of soil resources, plant requirements, optimal application conditions and response to fertilizer. However, farmers must also consider several parameters such as pests pressure, auxiliaries presence and life cycle, and also economic aspects of the use of pesticides.
Economic reasoning allows the optimal use of inputs, and the reduction of their environmental impacts. A treatment applied in the right time and conditions, with adapted doses avoids overconsumption (and therefore additional costs) while minimizing pollution and risks of resistance. Sustainable agriculture aims to improve the efficiency of inputs, first level of the environmental protection and of human and animal health preservation. The promotion of such agriculture must be part of the agroecological transition process.
References to explore
Pretty J., et all. 2010. The top 100 questions of importance to the future of global agriculture. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 8:4, pp 219-236. DOI: 10.3763/ijas.2010.0534