Environmentally-friendly farming methods simply refers to the farming methods that do not cause harm to the environment, soil or to consumers of farm products, this doesn’t imply that these methods do not accept modern technology; rather it uses only non-harmful protocols which are completely organic.
It can further be described as those farming methods that are used to ensure that the land has high production of farm products, and still not losing its fertility.
In this article, we shall be looking deep and broadly at the types of environmentally friendly farming methods for the sustenance of a healthy environment free from harmful chemicals or activities caused by non-environmentally friendly farming methods in use today in various countries of the world, sometimes by unsuspecting farmers.
These farming methods if left unchecked will continue to cause many grave harms to the ecosystem and negatively affecting the lives and activities of man, animals, and plants in their natural habitats. 11 Best Environmentally Friendly Farming Methods
Below is the detailed list of the 11 environmentally friendly farming methods, for the sustenance of the natural ecosystem.
Best 11 Environmentally Friendly Farming Methods
- Polyculture and crop rotation
- Urban agriculture
- Ground covering/mulching
- Manual weed control
- Natural pest management
- Natural animal rearing
- Hydroponics and Aquaponics
- Biodynamic farming
- Growth of heirloom and other varities
Polyculture and Crop Rotation
Polyculture as one of the environmentally friendly farming methods simply means the planting of different species of plants together in a single piece of land, this practice helps is the growth of the plants and increase production as the plants co-exist mutually e.g planting legumes together within other crops like maize;
In this situation the legumes which are cover crops help control the growth of weeds in the farm, supply the soil with nitrates and help control water erosion in the farmland, thereby helping to reduce the use of synthetic chemicals which are harmful to the environment.
This is one of the most environmentally friendly farming methods as it makes room for biodiversity in the farm which helps the crops to be resistant to weather fluctuations. It also ensures that no nutrient is in excessive proportion as the other crops make use of the nutrients their counterparts needs in little or no quantities.
Crop Rotation as one of the environmentally friendly farming methods simply refers to the practice of planting different species or varieties of crops in a particular piece of land but at different periods or seasons.
Crop rotation is one the most effective environmental friendly methods to control pests e.g. If you used plant yam crops on a particular piece of land and after some time you discover they are being eaten up by yam-eating beetles.
Instead of buying chemicals that are harmful to the environment, you use one of these environmentally friendly farming methods by the next planting season you plant another crop like maize on that piece of land, when the young beetles emerge, they wouldn’t see any yam to eat.
Because of this a great number of them will die, while the few surviving lot leave the farmland in search of food and this automatically rids the farm of such pests through a wholly organic procedure, thereby preserving the soil in its natural state.
Permaculture is one of the best environmentally friendly farming methods is a globally practised method of farming, it simply refers to the use of creativity and modern technology that are environmentally friendly to increase efficiency in the farm and maximize production.
Most of the farmers who practice this method have no idea that it has a specific name assigned to it e.g. when a farmer constructs pipelines around his farmland to increase the efficiency and ease of watering the plants, he is practising permaculture.
Below are the 7 basic principles or guidelines of permaculture for a better performance:
- Observe and interact
- Catch and store(this refers to natural resources like water)
- Obtain a better yield from the farm
- Regularly check the farm constructions
- Always embrace changes for better production
- Make use of organic solutions no matter how old or slow they might look to you
- Make room for biodiversity on your farmland
Urban agriculture as one of the best environmentally friendly farming methods connotes the act of using spaces not usually for agriculture for agricultural purposes, this is usually caused by the quest for higher productivity and profitability or high demand for food or particular food crops in urban areas.
To tackle this challenge farmers try and create space and make use of space anywhere they find it for agricultural purposes, these spaces include: flat root tops, balconies, indoor space( for hydroponic farms) and even the compounds of buildings for planting food and cash crops. sometimes making no space for ornamental plants.
Urban agriculture also includes livestock farming; as some livestock farmers make cages and put in various part of their homes(both indoors and outdoor), rearing small animals like rabbits or grasscutters for meat.
Urban agricultural farming is on the increase because of there e high population densities of the Urban areas and also because it is eco-friendly(does no harm to the ecosystem) and at the same time goes a long way in solving the problem of food shortage in the urban areas.
Ground Covering also known as mulching is one of the environmentally friendly farming methods and it is used to control weed growth on the farm, fight soil erosion and also add nutrients to the soil.
Ground covering is very similar to mulching; ground covering involves the planting of floor crawling species of plants usually leguminous plants on the farmland together with other crops.
The plants thereby planted act as ground cover by covering the surface of the soil and still not disturbing the other plants, by growing just over the ground the prevent weeds from sprouting to compete with the crops; thereby killing at least 80-90% of the weeds depending on how well they were planted. They also add nutrients to the soil as the legumes fix nitrites in the soil for other plants use.
Mulching is one of the environmentally friendly farming methods is used to control weeds in the soil and also add nutrients to the soil, it involves the scattering of dead plant particles over the farmland, the control the weeds up to a high rate of 97%, and also at decomposition add many nutrients to the soil.
The major difference between ground covering and mulching is that in-ground covering living plants are planted on the farm but in mulching dead plant parts are used, it is because of their great similarity that they came together in this article.
Manual Weed Control
Manual weed control as one of the major aspects of environmentally friendly farming methods simply refers to the way of controlling weeds without the use of secondary mechanisms; without the use of herbicides and other categories of chemical substances meant for weed control.
Manual weed controls can be separated into two aspects:
This is the practice of removing weeds manually by making use of the hands, this method is widely used and is usually used when the crops have already been planted mainly to avoid the accidental cutting of farm crops by the use of matches in weeding.
Note: This is usually done in a farm that has already been mulched or cover cropped to reduce the intensity of labour.
Use of simple/sophisticated machine
This involves the use of simple and sophisticated machines in the control of weeds, by cutting or uprooting them with instruments like weeding hoes, matchets, sickles, and mowing machines, this is usually done before the planting of crops to avoid the accidental uprooting of farm crops.
Natural Pest Control
Natural pest management as one of the environmentally friendly farming methods involves the use of natural or organic methods to fight pests in the farm, it involves synthetic chemical-free methods to control pests in the farm, both livestock and plant pests. The different categories of natural pest control are listed and explained below:
Hand-picking as part of the environmentally friendly farming methods involves the picking of farm pests like locusts, dog fleas and ticks from the plants and animals in the farm thereby avoiding the use of dangerous chemicals in the farm.
This is the method of planting different crops on the same piece of land at different seasons or different times of the seasons. This practice is an effective way of controlling pests in the farm as every pest has a particular specie of plant or class of plants that they feed on.
Planting different crops on the same piece of land at intervals is the best environmentally friendly farming method to fight pests in the farm as most of the pests die off once their source of food is taken away i.e when the farmer plants a different crop on that piece of land where the pests are found.
Planting of Disease-resistant crops
Disease resistant crops are crops that are improved and can resist certain pests that affect other plants of the same species. These plants need not be synthetical improved plants, as one can also find organically improved or naturally improved crops or seeds in the market.
Use of ecological enemies
Ecological enemies refer to animals that are natural enemies, i.e one predates on the other. This situation between animals can be used to man’s advantage in pest control. The use of ecological enemies is also among the best environmentally friendly farming methods.
For example, you can put catfishes in water pools or ponds to control mosquito breeding, as they will eat the larvae before they become adults, you can also use trained birds to fight pests like grasshoppers, moths etc.
Use of organic pest repellants
The use of organic pest repellants is the best among the environmentally friendly farming methods to use in fighting farm pests as it has low labour demand, is highly cost-effective and has high-performance efficiency. For example, wood ash repels the white stinging ants that live on trees mostly in the tropical parts of Africa.
Natural Animal Rearing
Natural animal rearing as one of the environmentally friendly farming methods refers to the process of fearing animals in their natural habitats or a habitat similar to the natural habitats they are used to.
Scientists have proved that animals fed with natural food items and allowed to move about as they do in their natural habitats grow to be healthier, stronger, and more agile than their counterparts fed with synthetic feeds.
Scientists also researched and proved that the milk, meat, eggs, and other animal products gotten from these animals are more nutritive to the body than the products gotten from their counterparts fed by synthetically made or highly processed food items,
Natural animal rearing as one of the environmentally friendly farming methods is not cost-intensive but cost-effective, and it also helps prevent the contamination and spread of infectious diseases among the animals that are being reared.
Agroforestry is one of the environmentally friendly farming methods that simply refers to the act or practice of planting food crops together with trees on a piece of land. This has so many benefits on the crops and to the farmer.
When trees are planted together with the crops, they reduce run-off and thereby helping to maintain the fertility of the soil, they protect the crops from heavy wind and heavy rain.
Trees planted in the farmland help recover leached nutrients as their roots search deep into the soil to find food and by shedding leaves they return to the topsoil the lost nutrients which the roots of the plants would not have had access to.
Agroforestry is one of the environmentally friendly farming methods that help in the formation of a microclimate for the farmland shading the crops from excessive sunshine and helping in increasing soil humidity for better performance on the part of the crops.
Sometimes the trees also serve as a source of food and money to the farmers thereby increasing their farms’ profitability and also provide timber for industrial purposes and perfect shades for resting.
Hydroponics and Aquaponics
Hydroponics and aquaponics as part of the environmentally friendly farming methods are terminologies used to refer to the practice of growing plants with their roots in the water and not in the soil.
In this type of farming the plant’s roots are immersed in mineral waters with special nutrients necessary for the growth of the plants added to the water.
The difference between hydroponics and aquaponics is that hydroponics involves simply the use of water to specially nurtured mineral waters to grow plants while in aquaponics; fish farming is combined with hydroponics i.e that is the water that contains the waste products of the fishes are used to nourish the plants.
Biodynamic farming as one of the environmentally friendly farming methods is one of the most cost-effective of them. Biodynamic simply means the rearing and growing of livestock and plants on the same piece of land.
In this type of farming, the farmer rears animals that do not feed on the crops he grows on his farm, this type of farming has so many benefits as it enables the animals to have a animals a welcoming natural habitat to stay.
Biodynamic as part of the environmentally friendly farming methods are cost-effective as the animals defecate on the farm and also urinate thereby adding to the soil’s nutrients. In biodynamic the animals in the farm help control weeds and pests( this depends on the animals the farmer uses).
They also benefit as they get access to fresh food and have enough oxygen to keep the air fresh while also supplying the plants with adequate carbon(IV)oxide for respiration. Biodynamics also brings about mutual relationships between the plants and animals e.g if a farmer decides to practice biodynamics by raising bees on his farm, his crops will be well pollinated unlike crops in other farms.
Growth of Heirloom and other Varieties
Growth of heirloom and other varieties as one of the environmentally friendly farming methods simply refers to the practice of farmers growing the previously known or local varieties of plants that are more resistant to fluctuating weathers and pests.
Farmers are also advised to grow other varieties of plants that are popular in their areas as they tend to be more resistant to diseases found in such areas, farmers are encouraged to try other varieties which are more resistant to diseases and weather changes for increased productivity from their farms, sustainable farms.
In this article, we have listed and explained all the environmentally friendly farming methods in agriculture. The article has also been written in simple and easy-to-understand words and expressions for the good of every reader whether a novice or an expert in the field of agriculture. You can add your suggestion in the comment box.