Out go the pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and extended use of the land… Agro-ecology is an agricultural technique which respects the environment, essentially thanks to the use of composting, researching crops that complement one another, fighting erosion and better water management.
Water is a major stake in sustainable agricultural practices. Yet, according to a 2011 report by the French Ministry of the Environment, agriculture represents over 70% of water consumption around the world. Intensive cattle breeding and irrigation practices implemented to respond to the growing needs of the world population are endangering this resource as well as polluting the water table. However, this negative impact is lowered with agro-ecology, which, according to Pierre-François Pret, the head of Terre & Humanisme, requires “3 to 4 times less water than the established requirement for a specific crop, as determined by the agricultural chamber” when using renewable energies.
The idea is to save water through an improved land/water ratio. Common sense dictates that irrigation take place outside the hottest hours of the day and without water cannons, as is the case in traditional corn crops. A better water resources management is needed. Chemical products are banned in order to protect the water table and rain water is collected. Because older varieties of vegetables often require less water than recent ones, it is recommended to plant alongside crops of both types.
In developing countries agro-ecology is a true alternative to traditional methods. In Cameroun for example the Cirad (Center for international cooperation in agricultural development) works alongside cotton growers on direct seeding techniques (sowing seeds in the soil without previous plowing) under a permanent plant cover to reduce input and improve ground fertility. Hope for future generations…
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