Alternative Farming Techniques for Sustainable Food Production

  • K. Padmavathy
  • G. PoyyamoliEmail author
Part of the Sustainable Agriculture Reviews book series (SARV, volume 7)


Sustainability and food security are the major challenges faced by third world countries for the past several decades. Most of the third world countries are also facing problems of climate change, increasing population, overexploitation of natural resources and resource degradation associated with rapid economic growth. Among the scientific and policy circles there are controversies in using inorganic chemicals and biotechnology for sustaining the agricultural production. There is no critical comprehensive review on sustainability of alternative farming systems and their relative advantages over conventional, chemicalized and hi-tech agriculture for decision making at various levels. This review tries to fulfill the knowledge gap in this vital sector. The first part of the review discuss the current status of agroecosystems, with emphasis on their threats in terms of food security, long term sustainability, impacts on ecosystem services and climate change. We also evaluate the ecological, economic, social and cultural sustainability of inorganic agriculture. This analysis points emerging issues such as environmental degradation, loss of ecosystem services, non-sustainability and threats to food security in the context of global population growth and climate change. Hence there is an urgent need for identifying potential alternative farming strategies to achieve long term sustainability and food security as indicated by several leading workers in the field. The next section traces the background and evolution of alternative farming systems with their scope and importance. Then we classified potential sustainable farming techniques practiced in various parts of the world. For that we review potentials, constraints, strategies and case studies for ten alternatives farming techniques and four innovative endogenous farming techniques from India. The alternative farming techniques that were field tested and perfected over several generations in the past portrayed the following advantages over chemical farming: (1) eco-friendly by protecting and revving life support systems and ecosystem services, (2) higher cost benefit ratio, benefiting the farmers as well as the consumers, (3) control and reduction of bioaccumulation and biomagnification, (4) reduction in air, water and soil pollution caused by various pesticides and other chemicals, (5) control of health hazards in humans and livestock, and (6) conservation and sustainable use of on-farm biodiversity, including traditional cultivated germplasm and natural resources in agrosystems.

Alternative farming techniques Bio dynamic farming Ecofarming HOMA India LEISA Integrated farming systems No tillage farming Natural farming Organic farming Permaculture Polyculture Sustainability Urban and Peri-Urban farming Zero budget natural farming 



The authors wish to place on record their deep sense of gratitude for the facilities provided by the Pondicherry University administration and the fellowship awarded to one of us (KP).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Environmental SciencesPondicherry UniversityPuducherryIndia

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