5.15 Sustainable Agriculture

2 min readjanuary 6, 2023


Mark Little

AP Environmental Science ♻️

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To increase the sustainability of our planet, humans must work to regulate their usage/overuse of resources (both renewable and non-renewable) for future generations. In terms of agriculture specifically, this means preventing soil erosion, as well as maintaining generally healthy habits.

Contour Plowing

One way includes contour plowing. Contour plowing follows the natural contours of the land when plowing to reduce environmental impact; since it follows land patterns, very little soil is disturbed. No-till agriculture is a type of farming that is used in soils that are dryer and have more sand.  Using this strategy, very little soil preparation or tilling is done and reduces the erosion from this type of farming.


Windbreaks or shelterbelts is another strategy used for improving sustainable agriculture. Rows of trees or high-standing bushes are planted to prevent wind effects and block out direct impact. Sometimes these rows of trees or bushes are planted on the outside of the farmland and are called hedgerows. This prevents wind from effectively eroding a lot of soil.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Crop Rotation

Traditional crop rotation involves planting a series of different crops in a field over a number of years, with each crop being chosen to add nutrients back to the soil that were depleted by the previous crop. For example, a farmer might plant legumes (such as beans or peas) in a field one year, followed by a cereal crop (such as wheat or oats) the next year.
Terracing is a farming practice used to cut out flat sections within hilly areas.  If you see this type of farming from the air, it will look like a series of steps. This practice helps reduce soil loss and erosion in hilly areas. Strip farming is done when a series of long rows that are alternated with areas that are not planted. This is a technique used in crop rotation.
A way to improve the health of the soil and fertility is to add green manure. In this strategy, farmers allow last year’s crop parts to decompose and help provide nutrients to the soil.  Rotating crops also helps improve the health of the soil, and adding limestone helps add important minerals like Calcium (Ca) and increases the pH.
Like rotating crops, rotating pastures for grazing animals or livestock helps prevent overgrazing.  This keeps the pasture land healthier and more sustainable for the future.
🎥 Watch: AP Environmental Science - Agricultural Practices I
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