What is Sustainable Agriculture?


Every day, farmers and ranchers around the world develop new, innovative strategies to produce and distribute food, fuel and fiber sustainably. While these strategies vary greatly, they all embrace three broad goals, or what SARE calls the 3 Pillars of Sustainability:

  • Profit over the long term
  • Stewardship of our nation’s land, air and water
  • Quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities

There are almost as many ways to reach these goals as there are farms and ranches in America.

A cattle rancher might divide his rangeland into paddocks in a rotational grazing system to better manage soil and water resources while improving animal productivity. A field crop farmer might implement a rotation to break up pest cycles, improve soil fertility and cut costs, or use cover crops—non-cash crops grown for their benefit to the soil and ability to suppress weeds. A fruit and vegetable grower might try a new marketing approach such as selling directly to restaurants in a nearby city to gain a larger share of the consumer food dollar.

No one recipe works on every farm and ranch. But to give a flavor of sustainable agriculture at work, we have profiled the sustainable operations of eight of SARE’s many cream-of-the-crop grantees—including producers, researchers and educators. To get a more complete picture, view 61 in-depth profiles in SARE’s book The New American Farmer, 2nd edition.

Check out What is Sustainable Agriculture?, SARE’s award-winning, 12-page sampler of best practices in sustainable agriculture, including profiles of the men and women who are implementing them, then consider applying for your own grant.

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