Sustainable Agricultural Systems

Clive Edwards, Rattan Lal, Patrick Madden, Robert Miller, Gar House, Editors. ISBN 0-935734-21-X US $40.00

Sustainable Agricultural Systems provides an extensive look at how the adoption of sustainable farming methods is being pursued throughout the world. This book offers many insights into current research and extension needs and the variety of viewpoints which come to bear on issues of sustainability.

Covered in comprehensive fashion are the history of sustainable agriculture; practical applications and a discussion of the importance of integrated farming systems; status of regional sustainable agriculture efforts across the tropics; the ecological impacts of sustainable farming methods and an in-depth assessment of ongoing policy development in the sustainable agriculture arena today.

Given the broad range of topics and valuable technical information presented in this 696-page book, and the limited space available to address it, we think it is appropriate to reprint the table of contents. Of particular interest to many International Ag-Sieve readers is the 6-chapter section dealing with Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the Tropics. We have chosen to summarize the chapter covering China (as one out of every five people in the world is Chinese!) although the book provides useful background material on most regions of the world.

Ecological Agriculture in China; by Shi ming Luo and Chun ru Han

The Chinese have for centuries been following a tradition of sustainable and “ecologically reasonable” agriculture. But Chinese agriculture has changed greatly over the past century, especially in the last 30 years. Before the late 1970’s, the “agro-ecosystem” concept was not widely established in China and most efforts to increase cropland neglected the ecological consequences. This approach intensified the problems of soil erosion and desertification, resulting in devastating floods.

Total production increases in recent decades have been due primarily to yield increases rather than enlarging the area of cultivated land. These yield increases have been a result of increasing inputs and improved crop varieties and cultural methods.

Major trends in the development of the concept of ecological agriculture in China include; an emphasis on long-term studies which combine the best practices of traditional Chinese farming with current science and technology adaptable to prevailing conditions; expanding the narrow views of traditional subsistence agriculture in China. The concept of adequate food supply is broadened to include not only grains but all other food products; recognition of the importance of the sustainability of society within the environment, which sets minimum criteria for agriculture to be ecologically renewable, economically viable and socially compatible.

Sustainable Agricultural Systems is important reading for agricultural leaders in research, extension, conservation, policy and others concerned with creating a sustainable agriculture worldwide.

To order write:

Soil and Water Conservation Society
7515 N.E. Ankeny Raod
Ankeny, IA 50021-9764
(515)289-2331 or 1-800-THE-SOIL

Table of Contents

Part I. An Overview of Sustainable Agriculture
1 A History of Sustainable Agriculture
2 Making Agriculture a Sustainable Industry
3 International Goals and the Role of the International Agricultural Research Centers
4 Sustainable Agriculture in the United States
5 Society’s Stake in Sustainable Agriculture
6 Sustainability: An Opportunity for Leadership

Part II. Components of Sustainable Agricultural Systems
7 Soil Nutrient Management in the United States
8 Crop Rotations in Sustainable Agricultural Systems
9 Ecological and Agronomic Characteristics of Innovative Cropping Systems
10 Biotechnology and Crop Breeding for Sustainable Agriculture
11 Pest Management in Sustainable Agricultural Systems
12 Evolving Strategies for Managing Weeds
13 Conservation Tillage in Sustainable Agriculture
14 Pasture Management
15 Role of Animals in Sustainable Agriculture

Part III. The Importance of Integration in Sustainable Farming Systems
16 The Importance of Integration in Sustainable Agricultural Systems
17 Integrated Farming Systems of Lautenbach: A Practical Contribution toward Sustainable Agriculture in Europe
18 Research on Arable Farming and Organic Mixed Farming in the Netherlands

Part IV. Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the Tropics
19 Ecological Agriculture in China
20 Sustainable Agricultural Systems in Tropical Africa
21 Ecological Considerations for the Future of Food Security in Africa
22 Sustainability for Agriculture in the Tropics: Experiences in Latin America
23 Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the Humid Tropics of South America
24 Sustaining Agriculture: The Indian Scene

Part V. Policy Development
25 Policy Development for the Low-input Sustainable Agriculture Program
26 The Role of Economics in Achieving Low-input Farming Systems
27 Economics of Sustainable Agricultural Systems in Developing Countries
28 Economic Impact of Sustainable Agriculture on the Agricultural Chemical Industry
29 Compound and household Farming: A Sustainable System for African Agriculture
30 Sociological Aspects of Agricultural Sustainability in the United States: A New York Case Study
31 Socioeconomic Aspects of Machinery Requirements for Rotational Agriculture

Part VI. Improved Ecological Impacts of Sustainable Agriculture
32 Lower Input Effects on Soil Productivity
33 Soil Erosion and a Sustainable Agriculture
34 Sustainable Agriculture and Water Quality
35 Soil Microbiological Inputs for Sustainable Agricultural Systems
36 Role of Sustainable Agriculture in Rural Landscapes
37 Soil Biota as Components of Sustainable Agroecosystems
38 Agriculture and Human Health
39 A Matter of Commitment
40 Sustainable Agricultural Systems: A Concluding View