The growing concern about environmental degradation, dwindling natural resources and urgency to meet the food needs of the increasing population are compelling farm scientists and policy makers to seriously examine alternatives to chemical agriculture. A sustainable agriculture backed-up by green technologies in an integrated farming system has been considered a promising and potential pathway. The twin problems confronting agricultural production are all pervasive erosion of natural resources such as land, water and biodiversity, fast declining soil fertility and use efficiency of inputs such as water, fertilizer and energy. Demographic pressures accelerate the first and agronomic deficiencies the second.
The gravity of the environmental degradation, arising from faulty practices, has set several experts in the field to focus attention on ecologically sound, viable and sustainable farming systems. Though there has been a series of scientific and policy conferences on this issue, the sustainable farming methods are yet to get the approval of most agricultural scientists.
There are no serious attempts to develop a package of practices for large-scale adoption of sustainable agriculture in India. Only a few enterprising farmers and private institutions stand testimony to the utility of safe and highly productive natural farming methods.
The adverse effect of pesticides on the environment has been well documented, and their residues in the food chain have endangered the whole life sustaining systems in many regions. Chemical fertilizers have also jeopardized the environment through nitrate poisoning and exterminating the
beneficial soil microflora and micro-fauna by adversely altering the chemical and physical
structures of the soil.