Sustainable agriculture

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A systematic approach to agriculture that focuses on ensuring the long-term productivity of human and natural resources for meeting food and fiber needs. The FACT ACT of 1990 defines sustainable agriculture as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term (a) satisfy human food and fiber needs; (b) enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends; (c) make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; (d) sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and (e) enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole." Examples of sustainable agricultural practices include use of crop rotation, animal and green manures, soil and water conserving tillage systems such as no-till planting methods, and integrated pest management. The Food Security Act of 1985 authorized a competitive grants program, now called the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program that supports farmer-scientist teams performing on-farm experiments in less chemical-intensive methods of pest control and soil fertility and other sustainable practices. The program also trains Cooperative Extension personnel to work with farmers to encourage adoption of sustainable practices.

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