Ecological Thinking and Agricultural Sustainability

  • Anantanarayanan RamanEmail author


Ecological or ecocentric thinking emerges from our appreciation of oneness with nature. Technocentric perception driven by scientific and empirical thinking builds on Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and Adam Smith’s Wealth of the Nations. Those who can empathize with the ecocentric thinking can see the ‘big’ picture and understand the illusion of human mastery over nature. Nature has its precise mechanism of constant renewal and replenishment of materials, operating in a cyclical manner. When we humans thought that we have gained mastery over technology, we started interfering with the cycles of nature. Eventually, we damaged them to that extent that we have made them go berserk and turn linear. Consequently, we are currently facing stunning problems, such as pollution and other similar displeasing developments on Earth. In today’s highly technocentric environment, where economic paradigms rule the roost, ecological paradigms are seen as ‘primitive’ and ‘conservative’. To a few others, ecological paradigms appear daunting, challenging, and difficult to practice. The term ‘sustainable development’ refers to something more than, simply, growth. A change in the kind of growth is needed, a kind of development that is less material- and energy-intensive and more equitable in the distribution of its benefits. This emphasizes that changes are necessary and that the security, well-being, and the survival of the planet should be mutualistic with those changes. Sustainable development is not about giving priority to environmental concerns, but it is about incorporating environmental strengths into the economic system. Sustainability represents ideas of stability, equilibrium, and harmony with nature. Sustainable development is an attempt to reduce the politics in decision-making by artificially replacing conflict with consensus. Ecological thinking and its derivative ecological agriculture are practices that spin around simplicity and modesty. Aggressive dollar-driven thinking has no place in ecological thinking. Climate change, for example, is a problem created by us humans because of our badly thought-out and hasty practices of land use. If we realize this weakness and remedy it, then we still have hope to leave a cleaner and better world for the future generations of humans as well as other organisms that are as important as H. sapiens! We think that speed and rapid turnarounds of events are the norms of today. Is speed the root cause of present-day ecological–environmental malady, which has pushed us to think of sustainability?


Agricultural sustainability Ecological agriculture Ecological thinking Organic farming Biodynamic farming Natural farming Permaculture System of rice intensification 



I am highly grateful to David Mitchell (Department of Primary Industries, Government of New South Wales, Orange) and Kunjithapatham Dhileepan (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Government of Queensland, Brisbane) for sparing me images for use in this article.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Charles Sturt University & Graham Centre for Agricultural InnovationOrangeAustralia

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