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Overview of sustainable agriculture

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The word sustain {from the Latin sustinere (sus-, from below and tenere, to hold)} means to keep in existence or maintain. It implies long-term support or permanence. As it pertains to agriculture, sustainable refers to the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of diverse food, fiber, agriculture, forest, and range systems; to agricultural systems that are "capable of maintaining their productivity and usefulness to society indefinitely. Such systems... must be resource-conserving, socially supportive, commercially competitive, and environmentally sound" (John Ikerd). "A sustainable agriculture does not deplete soils or people"—Wendell Berry). "A sustainable agriculture is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just and humane"—International Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.

Sustainable agriculture, therefore, "is both a philosophy and a system of farming. It has its roots in a set of values that reflects an awareness of both ecological and social realities. It involves design and management procedures that work with natural processes to conserve all resources and minimize waste and environmental damage, while maintaining or improving farm profitability. Working with natural soil processes is of particular importance. Sustainable agriculture systems are designed to take maximum advantage of existing soil nutrient and water cycles, energy flows, beneficial soil organisms, and natural pest controls. By capitalizing on existing cycles and flows, environmental damage can be avoided or minimized. Such systems also aim to produce food that is nutritious, and uncontaminated with products that might harm human health."—Ecological Agriculture Projects, McDonald College, McGill University.


Use these synonyms for sustainable agriculture when keyword searching Addison or databases.

  • Agrarian
  • Agrarianism
  • Agri-environmental indicator
  • Agroecosystems,
  • Bio-control
  • Biodynamic farming or agriculture
  • Biointensive integrated pest management
  • Biological farming or agriculture
  • Bufferstrips
  • Carbon footprint (CF)
  • Community food system
  • Controlled grazing
  • Eco-agriculture
  • Ecological farming or agriculture
  • Ecological footprint (ef)
  • Farmland protection
  • Food circle
  • Food miles
  • Foodshed
  • Grass farming or agriculture
  • Grass farming or agriculture
  • Grass-based farming or agriculture
  • High-intensity, low-frequency grazing (hilf)
  • Holistic management (HM)
  • Holistic range management
  • Holistic resource management (hrm)
  • Intensive grazing
  • Kyusei nature farming or agriculture
  • Local food system
  • Low input sustainable agriculture (LISA)
  • Management intensive grazing (MIG)
  • Mini-farming
  • Natural farming or agriculture
  • Nature farming or agriculture
  • Pasture based farming or agriculture
  • Regenerative agriculture or farming
  • Time-controlled grazing (TCG)
  • Voisin management grazing


In addition to the keywords listed above, search the following terms using the Subject search screen in Addison:

  • Agricultural ecology,
  • Agriculture – ecology
  • Agriculture—environmental aspects
  • Agroforestry systems
  • Agropastoral systems
  • Alternative agriculture
  • Appropriate technology
  • Arthropoda as biological pest control agents
  • Bacterial diversity
  • Best management practices (pollution prevention)
  • Biofertilizers
  • Biointensive gardening
  • Biological diversity
  • Biological pest control agents
  • Bonemeal
  • Compost
  • Conservation tillage
  • Crops—ecology
  • Environmental indicators
  • Externalities (economic)
  • Field crops—ecology
  • Garden ecology
  • Grasslands
  • Green manuring
  • Humus
  • Integrated agricultural systems
  • Manures
  • Natural products in agriculture
  • Nematoda as biological pest control agents
  • Organic dairy farming
  • Organic farming
  • Organic fertilizers
  • Permaculture
  • Pests—integrated control (see also "integrated control" as a subdivision under specific pests or groups of pests)
  • Plant diversity
  • Precision agriculture
  • Product life cycle
  • Rhizosphere
  • Rotational grazing
  • Soil ecology
  • Soils
  • Species diversity
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Sustainable development
  • Sustainable forestry
  • Sustainable horticulture
  • Weeds – biological control
  • Weeds – integrated control
  • Weeds (see also names of individual weeds)