Global organic product sales are predicted to reach $849.7 billion by 2028. Therefore, there’s a lot of opportunity in organic farming and other sustainable farming methods.
But before you jump on the bandwagon, you should ask yourself, “what are the challenges of sustainable farming?”
Knowing what awaits you when you go the sustainable route is crucial in making wise decisions.
So, in this article, we present to you the:
- Primary challenges of sustainable farming
- Proposed solutions on how to combat these problems
- Pros and cons of sustainable agriculture
If you’re planning to transition to sustainable farming methods, this will help you be aware of the possible challenges you have to deal with along the way.
6 Main Challenges of Sustainable Farming
Sustainable agriculture has been used since the 1980s and the world knows it’s what we need right now. But it still remains a challenge to transition to eco-friendly methods due to the following reasons:
1. Growing enough food
One significant challenge sustainable farmers face is growing enough food for the world’s increasing population.
Currently, each person has access to 0.21 hectares of land. By 2050, this will increase to 0.15 hectares of basic food resources per person.
Today, we can use our machinery to ensure that yields per hectare keep increasing.
With the help of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals, farmers were able to produce enough food for the global population.
But in 2050, the expected global population will increase to 9.7 billion people. Sustainable farming is essential to ensuring food security in this regard.
However, some sustainable agricultural practices aren’t suitable for mass production.
That’s why providing enough food for the global population using sustainable farming remains challenging.
2. Water scarcity
Water scarcity is the result of a high rate of aggregate demand from all water-using sectors relative to the supply.
Due to the use of the right technology and investments, freshwater resources will be sufficient for agriculture to satisfy demand requirements globally by 2050.
But water shortage will continue in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and other regions.
Cities, industries, and agriculture compete with one another for water resources. Furthermore, a rising number of nations or regions experience stress, water pollution, and contamination at alarmingly high levels.
Water scarcity reduces agricultural output, endangered ecosystems, and damage prospects for income and livelihood for many people.
Furthermore, there are growing concerns about groundwater contamination and the salinization of aquifers due to seawater intrusion.
3. Loss of usable land
Water resources are overexploited, and ecosystems and biodiversity are harmed by deforestation and overfishing. And 33% of the world’s land is already moderately or highly degraded.
Therefore, it is necessary to make better use of the remaining land.
Sustainable farming methods like hydroponics and aquaponics may provide a solution since they enable you to maximize your space.
However, it’s also vital to preserve the land and revive those who lost fertility to maximize production.
4. High energy use
The importance of agriculture as a source of renewable energy is rising. Agriculture may reduce emissions by a significant amount by using bioenergy for electricity, heat, and fuel.
But some indoor farming methods like hydroponics consume more energy than conventional farming. Why? Because indoor setups require lighting, pumps, and other devices to work and produce food.
Good thing outdoor hydroponic farming that utilizes natural light is energy-efficient and consumes less energy.
5. Climate change
Weather extremes may increase due to climate change worldwide. In some areas, decreasing rainfall will result in lengthier droughts, meaning less land will be sufficiently watered as compared to before.
Crop yields have decreased by 5% every ten years due to:
- unpredictable weather
- bug infestations
- seasonal variations
And these are all brought on by rising levels of global warming.
6. Cost-efficiency of sustainable practices
Due to declining product prices, increased environmental rules, diminished state subsidies, rising rents, and wage expenses, farms face cost and efficiency challenges in many regions.
Solutions to Sustainable Farming Challenges
So how can we combat sustainable agriculture issues and succeed in promoting sustainable farming methods? Here are the steps we can take to solve the problems of sustainable agriculture.
1. Creation of adequate policies and incentives
With the help of better policies on taxes, land tenure, pro-poor social protection, and subsidies, agricultural farmers can fight the challenges of sustainable farming.
It’d be better if the government could also provide more access to the market which can increase the farmer’s income and livelihoods.
This way, the burden will be lifted off the farmer’s shoulders, and they can market their products more.
2. Funding more research, development, and innovation
The goal is to promote climate adaptation and mitigation while providing food for the people.
And there’s so much more to discover in this area, from production to sustainable food systems, social, economic, and environmental components, and farm-to-value chains.
But improving agroforestry, agroecology, and other sustainable farming methods should be a priority. Why? Because they positively impact our environment.
3. Providing financial aid to promote sustainable farming
Collaborating closely with farmers and attending to their needs would help create financial instruments that could support sustainable agriculture output across all sectors.
For instance, financial aid may make it easier for small growers to get funding and enable more environmentally friendly input, energy, and resource use.
Public investments can also improve farmers’ incomes and quality of life in rural infrastructure and create innovative marketplaces.
4. Innovative governance and mechanisms
The close collaboration of various government organizations, private companies, and consumers is necessary to face challenges in sustainable agriculture.
Through innovative governance and implementing sustainable farming policies at national and sub-national levels, we can mitigate climate change and preserve our lands.
What Are Some of the Disadvantages of Sustainable Farming?
These are the downsides of sustainable farming that kept many growers from joining this agricultural movement:
1. Limited land use
The limited use of land, which makes it unsuitable for mass production, is one of the significant drawbacks of sustainable agriculture.
Although the goal of sustainable agriculture is to use fewer machinery, this can have an adverse effect on output.
You’ll require more time and assistance from others to take care of the plants and perform labor-intensive tasks.
As a result, the production is slowed down, and your original investment keeps increasing.
3. Shorter shelf life
Another drawback of sustainable agriculture is the lower shelf life of the produce.
Organic products typically don’t last very long because they can’t be preserved with preservatives. Therefore, organic products may become damaged due to delivery delays.
4. Reviving soil’s fertility takes a long time
It takes a long time for the soil to recover its lost fertility, especially if you’ve been using the land for monocrop production.
More prolonged revival means longer production and lower profit since not all products produced via crop rotation are in demand or highly profitable.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Sustainable Farming?
We can benefit from sustainable agriculture in multiple ways. But it also comes with a fair share of problems and downsides.
So, to sum it up, here are the advantages and disadvantages of sustainable agriculture that you should weigh before making the final decision.
Final Thoughts About the Challenges of Sustainable Farming
You see, going the sustainable way isn’t easy. There are many challenges that hold back the implementation of sustainable farming.
But even if we’re facing water scarcity, climate change, and loss of usable land, providing food for the world while preserving the earth is possible!
If government organizations and big industries will work together with farmers, we can fight against hunger and promote sustainable methods.
Sustainability isn’t an end state. We need to constantly evolve our ways and redirect our steps toward the greater good.
You can start by trying out eco-friendly farming methods that are truly environmentally sustainable.
Wanna know more about each of them? Check out the article below to get an insight into environmentally-friendly farming methods that promotes sustainability.