Sustainability of agricultural systems
Dear readers, I have been sharing with you some aspects about the productivity of agricultural systems and which indicators can be used to determine such productivity. These aspects are undoubtedly of great interest for livestock entrepreneurs, but the sustainability of such systems must also be taken into account, since new production models are currently being implemented that take into account economic, social and environmental indicators.
Design by @amestyj with photography captured at the Indio Hatuey experimental station.
In consideration of the above, a livestock system under a sustainable approach must guarantee the socioeconomic conditions for the family group, the production of good quality animal products and, of course, an environmentally friendly management, all of which will be influenced by the way in which the manager or owner of the agricultural enterprise organizes agricultural production. On the other hand, Pacini, Woosink, Giensen, Vazzana and Huirne (2003) point out that in order to be technically sustainable, agricultural systems must adopt the use of records to evaluate the productive efficiency of the system.
In the same vein, from the environmental point of view, Aguilera, Bruna, Brzonic and Cerda (2003), state that in order for a livestock company to increase its sustainability, it must consider the natural processes of the ecosystem, implementing ecological production alternatives that help to optimize them, which can be achieved using the following techniques:
1) Nutritional balance within the system, which can be achieved with the contribution of organic matter and certain practices that benefit the presence of functional microorganisms in the soil.
2) Protection of the soil surface, through management practices that minimize erosion and conserve water.
3) Diversify the system with species that adapt to the soil and climatic conditions of the farm, which will significantly reduce the use of external inputs, resulting in a management with a better cost-benefit ratio.
Likewise, from the economic-financial point of view, sustainable livestock enterprises are those that have a profitable and stable production over time, making efficient use of natural and economic resources. In this sense, FAO (2005) states that in order to achieve economic performance of agricultural systems, dependence on external resources (synthetic fertilizers and herbicides) must be reduced, which can mean high costs for the producer and vulnerability of production, mainly because producers cannot control changes in prices or access to external inputs.
In addition, sustainability from a social perspective in agricultural enterprises also takes into account the dependence on external inputs and resources, since the continuity of production should not be put at risk for the welfare of the family and people involved, as well as the educational level of the owners, the stability of the workforce and their access to social services (reflected in their quality of life), the training of human resources reflected in the objectives of minimizing contact with agrochemicals and maximizing occupational safety.
Pacini, C., Wossink, A., Giesen, G., Vazzana, C. & Huirne, R. (2003). Sustainability assessment of organic, integrated and conventional farming systems: a field and farm scale analysis. Agriculture. Ecosystems and Environment, 95 (1), 273 - 288.
Aguilera, M., Bruna, G., Brzonic, F. & Cerda, R. (2003). Fundamentos en Gestión para Productos Agropecuarios: Tópicos y Estudios de Casos Consensuados por Universidades Chilenas. Chile: Edited and produced by the Agricultural Management Program of Fundación Chile.