We need farms to provide the foods we eat, yet many farming practices seriously damage the environment. Videxport S.A. de C.V.’s owner, Gilberto Salazar Escoboza, established a commitment to sustainable agriculture to provide food for people throughout the world while encouraging a healthy habitat for all creatures.
Damaging Farming Methods
Our world depends upon technology. In fact, technology makes possible many of the things we take for granted. Some of the world’s everyday practices might do better without so much technological influence. Specifically, many “modern” agricultural practices used by other produce suppliers end up causing serious problems in our food supply, in addition to negatively affecting the environment.
Loss of Biodiversity
Agriculture in the Western Hemisphere usually focuses on “industrial” farming operations, where technology plays a huge role in choosing plant cultivars and implementing pest remediation. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) allow for the production of foods resistant to pests and pesticides, yet they are often unable to produce viable seeds for future plantings. “Monoculture” leads to large areas of farmland planted with highly specialized crops engineered to grow according to human input.
Eons of adaptation prove that diversity best fosters survival. Beyond genetic engineering and monoculture, the rampant use of blanket applications of “preventative” synthetic pesticides and herbicides kills off many beneficial organisms. Destroying the natural interplay of soil and organisms eventually requires the use of more and more chemicals, creating an environmentally damaging cycle.
The unfortunate outcome of our agricultural practices over the past decades is a loss of natural biodiversity, a quality that provides many benefits, including natural biological pest controls. Out of the 50,000-plus crops varieties out there, humans rely upon only three types—rice, wheat, and corn—to provide two-thirds of staple foods. And we lose more and more plant species each year. The human race believes its science is invulnerable, but if much of our food depends upon a limited number of plant varieties, the chance that one virus or blight could wipe out one or more varieties is quite scary—and completely possible.
Chemicals applied to farmland often have a far greater reach than most realize. Chemical pesticides and herbicides applied to crops wash off in rain and irrigation water, and then drain into waterways. Once there, they damage aquatic ecosystems that cannot withstand the chemicals introduced to their environment. The result is ecology thrown out of balance, where too much of one organism grows, and another is killed off. For example, agricultural runoff may actually make ponds and streams from which livestock drink toxic. Even if no significant runoff occurs, chemicals remaining in the soil build up to levels that make it impossible to grow crops in the ground without adding more chemicals.
Soil Degradation and Erosion
An incredible amount of the earth’s fertile soil washes away on a regular basis. The soil we grow our foods in is only a thin layer on the earth’s surface. Lose the topsoil, and the ability to feed a country disappears as well. Some erosion occurs when wind eats away soil, especially in arid regions where plowing disturbs the plants and ground covers that naturally protect topsoil. Water also plays a part in erosion. Flooding washes away soil, particularly in areas where there is no natural cover to hold it in place.
Whatever the cause of erosion, its rate is staggering. Topsoil replenishes itself, but not at a rate anywhere near that of soil loss.
- In the United States, soil erosion rates are ten times that of soil replenishment rates.
- In China and India, soil erosion exceeds replenishment by 30 to 40 percent.
Contrary to the saying, dirt is not cheap. Soil losses result in billions of dollars of lost productivity. Furthermore, much of the eroded soil ends up contaminating lakes, streams, and rivers with the pesticides and herbicides carried within it.
Operating Farms as Part of an Ecosystem
We are proud of the initiatives taken by Gilberto Salazar in bringing his farming concerns in line with sustainable agricultural practices. One of several certifications held by his farms, the Global G.A.P. certificate, indicates compliance with many “Good Agricultural Practices” throughout all operations—from field all the way to packaging. A key element of GAP is integrated pest management, or IPM, wherein environmentally friendly pest controls take precedence, and synthetic compounds enter the picture only when absolutely necessary. The Salazar farms embrace and implement GAP practices, including IPM.
Habitat and Conservation Agriculture
A huge consideration for Salazar’s farming operations is water: conserving it, maintaining its quality, and ensuring it does not cause erosion or toxic runoff. His farms utilize irrigation methods that manage water resources, using deep wells to irrigate the growing fields. Our pressurized watering methods ensure minimal water waste, resulting in no excessive runoff and significantly decreasing the chance of erosion problems. Additionally, filtration practices ensure that the water used for irrigation is free of heavy metals and other pollutants that could potentially harm the soil’s quality.
Agriculture and conservation of the environment do not need to be at odds with each other. Responsible management of water resources helps maintain soil quality and soil availability. After all, keeping arable soil in place is half the battle. Farmers must act as stewards of the land, taking all the steps required to ensure that the precious layer of topsoil that encases the earth remains a viable source of food production for not only the human population, but also for all other creatures on the planet.