A List Of Different Sustainable Farming Methods/Practices

Below is a list of some of the different sustainable farming methods and practices.

We’ve also included some stats, studies and examples of how sustainable farming can be a benefit in reality.


Summary – Sustainable Farming Methods/Practices

Sustainable farming practices might include but aren’t limited to:

Cover Crops

Rotating Crops

Polycultures (over monocultures)

No Till, Reduced Till Or Conservation Tillage

Green Fertilizer (Manure, & Compost)

Integrated Pest Management (Reduction Of Chemical Pesticides & Herbicides)

Integrating Livestock


Drip Irrigation

Drains, Buffers, Terraces

Prairie strips (natural ecosystem strips), buffer strips, no till farming, beneficial microbes and continued research on eco engineering soils (refer to the bbc.com resource in this guide for these specific examples)

In this guide we cite soils.org and list their land management practices they identified that might reduce the likelihood of land/soil desertification

[On an individual level, sustainable food production can also include urban gardens where people grow some of their own vegetables and food in their backyards, or in community gardens)


Some studies on sustainable farming practices suggest they can help reduce soil erosion, and in some cases can lead to better yields and profitability than some types of conventional farming.


Firstly, What Is Sustainable & Organic Farming?

Before we talk about what organic cotton is – it’s worth knowing in general what organic farming is.

Organic or sustainable farming might be described as:


To sustain a method of production in the long term (and thus make it sustainable), healthy and climate change resilient soils must be maintained, biodiversity of seeds and wildlife must be promoted and the livelihoods of farmers protected.

The system can’t be reliant on non-renewable resources, such as synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.

Any kind of mono-crop production utilising non-renewable synthetic fertilisers and pesticides and Bt Genetically Modified seeds cannot be considered environmentally sustainable by any reasonable definition.

– cottonedon.org


What The Various Sustainable Farming Practices Are (Explanations)

Cover Crops

A crop or plant grown specifically to protect the soil from wind and water erosion, and also to enrich the soil with nutrients.


Crop Rotation

Growing different crops in the same area season by season (instead of the same crop).

This exposes the soil to different nutrients, increases soil health and lowers the risk of certain pests and diseases.


Polycultures (over monocultures)

Growing different crops in the same area at the same time, as opposed to all the same crops.

Has similar benefits as rotating crops.


No Till, Reduced Till Or Conservation Tillage (& Minimise Soil Traffic)

The basic principle behind tilling the soil is that the more you do it, and the more intense that tillage is, the more soil health and structure suffers, and the more erosion there is.

Reduced or conservation tillage, or no till practices, conserves the soil.

It can involve machine seed planting, using crops that tolerate packed soil, and biological pest control – so the soil doesn’t have to be disturbed as often.


Green Fertilizer (Manure, & Compost)

The use of greener fertilizers like manure, compost and recycled or decomposing organic material over synthetic chemical fertilizers.


Integrated Pest Management (Reduction Of Chemical Pesticides & Herbicides)

The biological or mechanical control of pests and diseases over using synthetic chemical pesticides and herbicides.


Integrating Livestock

Integrating livestock into crop farming can be beneficial.

They can provide manure as a natural fertilizer, but also, when rotated between land, their hooves can naturally till and turn the soil, and not erode it.



Planting trees can be very beneficial to already degraded land, or poverty stricken farming areas.

Trees provide sun and rain cover to soil, but also increase soil nutrients, can be used for wood, and sequester carbon.

Some trees also grow fruits and other food that can be sold or eaten.


Drip Irrigation

A way of conserving water and nutrients (so less fertilizer has to be used) where water is directly dripped into the root zone.


Drains, Buffers, Terraces

Water soil erosion can occur when crops and fields don’t have proper drainage – and topsoil is carried off into rivers, streams etc.

Drains, buffers and terraces are ways of sustainably managing crop fields.


Some Stats & Studies On Implementing Sustainable Farming Practices That Results In Benefits

When no till and cover crops are used, the cumulative erosion cost [assuming there is a built in cost for erosion with decreased or lost yields] per decade, per 40 acres, can drop from almost $13,000, to $500.

– farmprogress.com


New farming practices like terraces and temporary “cover” crops have helped lower soil erosion by more than 40 percent over the past two decades

– theweek.com


… an ongoing study at Iowa State University’s Marsden Farm research center has shown that complex crop rotation systems can outperform conventional monoculture in both yield and profitability.

– ucsusa.org


Sustainable Farming Vs Other Farming Methods

Read more about sustainable farming practices vs other types of farming in this guide



1. https://theweek.com/articles/554677/america-running-soil

2. https://www.farmprogress.com/soil-health/economics-soil-loss

3. https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2013-09-30/soil-erosion-tasmania-high-rainfall/4988140 

4. https://www.ucsusa.org/food-agriculture/advance-sustainable-agriculture/what-is-sustainable-agriculture

5. https://www.bbc.com/future/bespoke/follow-the-food/why-soil-is-disappearing-from-farms/

6. http://www.cottonedon.org/FAQS

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