Advertisement

Ecological Thinking and Agricultural Sustainability

  • Anantanarayanan RamanEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

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?

Keywords

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

Notes

Acknowledgements

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.

References

  1. Beekman W, de Jonge J (1999) Biodynamic agriculture and spirituality. In: Haverkort B, Hiemstra W (eds) Food for thought: ancient visions and new experiences of rural people. ETC–COMPAS, Leusden, pp 199–211Google Scholar
  2. Boulding K (1966) The economics of the coming spaceship earth. In: Jarrett H (ed) Environmental quality in a growing economy. Johns Hopkins University Press & Resources for the Future, Baltimore, pp 3–14Google Scholar
  3. Braidwood L, Braidwood R, Howe B, Reed C, Watson PJ (1983) Prehistoric archaeology along the Zagros flanks. The University of Chicago Oriental Institute Publications, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  4. Carson R (1963) Silent spring. Hamish Hamilton, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1993) Realising our potential: a strategy for science, engineering and technology. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Cocks KD (1992) Use with care. University of New South Wales Press, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  7. Common M (1995) Sustainability and policy. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  8. Cumming RW, Elliot GL (1991) Soil chemical properties. In: Charman PEV, Murphy BW (eds) Soils: their properties and management. Sydney University Press, Sydney, pp 193–205Google Scholar
  9. Davy H (1813) Elements of agricultural chemistry. In a course of lectures for the Board of Agriculture. W. Bulwer, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. de Laulanié H (1993) Le système de riziculture intensive malgache. Tropicult (Brussels) 11:110–114Google Scholar
  11. Derrick J, Dann P (1997) Soils and agriculture. In: Diesendorf M, Hamilton C (eds) Human ecology, human economy. Allen & Unwin, St LeonardsGoogle Scholar
  12. Dewes T, Schmitt L (eds) (1995) Beiträge zur Wissenschaftsagung zum Ökologischen Landbau. Wissenschaftlicher Fachverlag, GießenGoogle Scholar
  13. Dhileepan K, Callander J, Shi B, Osunkoya OO (2018) Biological control of parthenium (Parthenium hysterophorus): the Australian experience. Biocontrol Sci Tech 28:970–988CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Diesendorf MO (1997) Ecologically sustainable development principles. In: Diesendorf MO, Hamilton C (eds) Human ecology, human economy. Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, pp 64–97Google Scholar
  15. Edwards CA, Wali MK, Horn DJ, Miller E (eds) (1993) Agriculture and the environment. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  16. ESD—Working Groups (1990–1994) Several reports. The Australian Government Publication Service, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  17. Fernandez E (2014) Child protection and vulnerable families: trends and issues in the Australian context. Soc Sci 3:785–808CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fitzsimons J, Legge S, Traill B, Woinarski J (2010) Into oblivion? The disappearing native mammals of northern Australia. The Nature Conservancy, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  19. Fukuoka M (1987) The road back to nature: regaining the paradise lost. Japan Publications, OsakaGoogle Scholar
  20. Funtowicz SO, Ravetz JR (1994) Science for the post-normal age. Futures 25:739–755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gerber A, Hoffman V (1998) The diffusion of eco-farming in Germany. In: Rölling NG, Wagemakers MAE (eds) Facilitating sustainable agriculture. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 134–152Google Scholar
  22. Goodland R (1995) The concept of environmental sustainability. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 26:1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goodland R, Daly HE, El-Serafy S (1992) Population, technology, and life style: the transition to sustainability. The Islands Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  24. Government of Australia (1992) Intergovernmental agreement on the environment. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra http://www.environment.gov.au/about-us/esd/publications/intergovernmental-agreement. Accessed 7 Nov 2018
  25. Grubb M, Koch M, Thomson K, Munson A, Sullivan F (1993) The Earth Summit agreements: a guide and assessment. Earthscan & the Royal Institute of International Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
  26. Hall CAS, Hall MHP (1993) The efficiency of land and energy use in tropical economies and agriculture. Agric Ecosyst Environ 46:1–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Harlan JR (1992) Crops and man. The American Society of Agronomy, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  28. Haverkort B, Hiemstra W (eds) (1999) Food for thought: ancient visions and new experiences of rural people. ETC–COMPAS, LeusdenGoogle Scholar
  29. Holling CS (1995) What barriers, what bridges? In: Gunderson LH, Holling CS, Light SS (eds) Barriers and bridges to the renewal of ecosystems and institutions. Columbia University Press, New York, pp 6–37Google Scholar
  30. Köpcke U (1994) Nährstoffkreislauf und Nährstoffmanagement unter dem Aspekt des Betriebsorganismus. In: Mayer J et al (eds) Ökologischer Landbau—Perspektif für die Zukunft! Stiftung Ökologie und Landbau, Bad DürkheimGoogle Scholar
  31. Korn L (1978) Introduction. In: Fukuoka M (ed) The one-straw revolution: an introduction to natural farming. Rodale Press, EmmausGoogle Scholar
  32. Kristiansen P, Merfield C (2006) Overview of organic agriculture. In: Kristiansen P, Taji A, Reganold J (eds) Organic agriculture: a global perspective. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, pp 1–24Google Scholar
  33. Kumarappa JC (1962) Gandhian economic thought. Sarva Seva Sangh Prakashan, VaranasiGoogle Scholar
  34. Lal V (2000) Too deep for deep ecology: Gandhi and the ecological vision of life. In: Chapple CK, Tucker ME (eds) Hinduism and ecology: the intersection of earth, sky, and water. Centre for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA, pp 183–212Google Scholar
  35. Leopold A (1949) A Sand County almanac and sketches here and there. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  36. Mishan EJ (1967) The costs of economic growth. Staples Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  37. Mollison B, Slay RM (1991) Introduction to permaculture. Tagari Publications, TyalgumGoogle Scholar
  38. Murphy MC (1992) Organic farming as a business in Great Britain. University of Cambridge, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  39. Naess A (2008) The shallow and deep ecology movement. Trumpeter 24:59–67Google Scholar
  40. Nattrass B, Altomare M (2001) The natural step for business. New Society Publishers, Gabriola IslandGoogle Scholar
  41. Newton J (1995) Profitable organic farming. Blackwell Science, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  42. O’Riordan T, Cameron J (eds) (1994) Interpreting the precautionary principle. Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  43. Pain S (1994) Rigid cultures caught out by climate change. New Sci 141(1915):13Google Scholar
  44. Raman A (1998) The WISDOM initiative for environmentally-sound development activity: a worthwhile model for developing countries. Int J Ecol Environ Sci 24:421–430Google Scholar
  45. Raman A (2013a) Linking holistic and reductionistic approaches: teaching of the undergraduate subject ‘introduction to ecological agriculture’. Agric Educ Mag 85:22–24Google Scholar
  46. Raman A (2013b) Ecological management of rice agriculture in Southern India. Int J Ecol Environ Sci 39:37–49Google Scholar
  47. Raman A (2019) Plant domestication and evolution of agriculture in India with special reference to peninsular India. In: Chakrabarti R (ed) Environmental history of India. Indian Council for Historical Research, New Delhi. (in press)Google Scholar
  48. Rat der Sachverständigen für Umweltfragen (1985) Umweltprobleme der Landwirtschaft. Kohlhammer Verlag, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  49. Rey J-Y, Diallo TM, Vannière H, Didier C, Keita S, Sangaré M (2004) The mango in French-speaking West Africa. Fruits 61:121–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Röling NG, Jiggins J (1998) The ecological knowledge system. In: Röling NG, Wagemakers MAE (eds) Facilitating sustainable agriculture. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 284–311Google Scholar
  51. Schaller N (1993) The concept of agricultural sustainability. Agric Ecosyst Environ 46:89–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schaumann W (1977) Der Biologisch-Dynamische Landbau, Ökologischer Landbau—eine Eurpäische Aufgabe. Stiftung Ökologie und Landbau, Verlag CF Müller, KarlsruheGoogle Scholar
  53. Singh S, Singh A, Rajkumar R, Kumar KS, Samy SK, Nizamuddin S, Singh A, Sheikh SA, Peddada V, Khanna V, Veeraiah P, Pandit A, Chaubey G, Singh L, Thangaraj K (2016) Dissecting the influence of Neolithic demic diffusion on Indian γ-chromosome pool through J2–M172 haplogroup. Sci Rep 6:19157.  https://doi.org/10.1038/srep19157 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Smith BD (1998) The emergence of agriculture. Scientific American Library, WH Freeman, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  55. Stabinsky R, Ching LL (2012) Ecological agriculture, climate resilience and a roadmap to get there. Third World Network, PenangGoogle Scholar
  56. Steiner R (1924) Geisteswissenschaftliche Grundlagen zum Gedeihen der Landwirtschaft (Landwirtschaftlicher Kurs). Rudolf Steiner Online Archive. http://anthroposophie.byu.edu. Accessed 7 Nov 2018
  57. Tarnas R (1991) The passion of the western mind: understanding the ideas that have shaped our world view. Ballentine Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  58. The Brundtland Commission (1987) Our common future. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  59. Turbayne D (1993) To the summit and beyond. The Australian Council for Overseas Aid, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  60. United Nations Environment Programme (1999) The future of our land: facing the challenge. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  61. Uphoff N (2003) Higher yields with fewer external inputs? The system of rice intensification and potential contributions to agricultural sustainability. Int J Agric Sustain 1:38–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Valiulis AV (2014) A history of materials and technologies development. VGTU Press Technika, VilniusCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Vavilov NI (1992) The origin and geography of cultivated plants. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  64. von Liebig J (1840) Die Organische Chemie in ihre Anwendung auf Agricultur und Physiologie. Verlag von Friedrich Vieweg & Sohn, BraunschweigGoogle Scholar
  65. Whitefield P (2004) Earth care manual: a permaculture handbook for Britain and other temperate climates. Permanent Publications, East MeonGoogle Scholar
  66. Wilson EO (2010) The diversity of life. Harvard University Press, HarvardGoogle Scholar
  67. Wilson K, Morren G (1990) System approaches for improvement in agriculture and resource management. Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  68. Woinarski JCZ, Burbidge AA, Harrison PL (2015) Ongoing unraveling of a continental fauna: decline and extinction of Australian mammals since European settlement. PNAS 112:4531–4540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wolfe P (2006) Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native. J Genocide Res 8:387–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Woods LE (1984) Land degradation in Australia. The Australian Government Publication Service, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  71. Woodwell GM (ed) (1990) The earth in transition: patterns and processes of biotic impoverishment. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations