The Healthy Farm: A Vision for U.S. Agriculture

Industrial food production, which currently dominates U.S. agriculture, is a dead end. It damages air, water and soil, harms rural communities, and limits future productivity.

But there's a better way. Scientists call it agro-ecological agriculture. We call it healthy farms. Healthy farms can be just as productive as industrial farms—and a lot more sustainable.

Interact with our healthy farm to learn more—and then take action to help make our vision reality!

Healthy Farm Elements

  1. Streamside Woodlot
  2. Cover Crops
  3. Long Crop Rotations
  4. Pasture-Raised Dairy Cattle
  5. Fruits and Vegetables
  6. Energy Crops
  7. Uncultivated Areas
  8. An Abundant Harvest
  9. Farm Workers

Streamside Woodlot

A tree-lined stream serves as a buffer to keep farm nutrients from polluting waterways, and serves as habitat for beneficial organisms.

Cover Crops

Cover crops like red clover improve soil fertility while reducing soil erosion, drought vulnerability, and herbicide use.

Long Crop Rotations

Rotating several crops over multiple years can improve soil health, reduce chemical fertilizer and pesticide use, and increase yield.

Pasture-Raised Dairy Cattle

Well-managed pastures reduce erosion, build soil fertility, provide habitat for beneficial organisms, and result in healthier animals.

Fruits and Vegetables

Crops like apples and broccoli provide new market opportunities for the farm—and healthy food for consumers.

Energy Crops

Energy crops like switchgrass provide another market for the healthy farm while making good use of its least productive land.

Uncultivated Areas

Trees, shrubs and grasses provide habitat for beneficial organisms, increasing biodiversity and reducing the need for insecticide.

An Abundant Harvest

The healthy farm is a thriving business. Research shows that farmers can adopt healthy practices without sacrificing profit or productivity.

Farm Workers

Besides reducing workers' exposure to pesticides and other toxins, a truly healthy farm offers its workers fair wages and working conditions.

Healthy Farm Practices

Landscape Approach

Integrating uncultivated areas helps preserve biodiversity, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides and increasing productivity. Learn more

Integrating Crops and Livestock

Plants and animals are good for each other. A healthy farm takes advantage of this by recycling nutrients in the form of manure. Learn more

Crop Diversity and Rotation

Growing a variety of different crops increases soil fertility and reduces the need for pesticides. Learn more

Cover Crops

Blanketing bare fields with cover crops in between cash crop plantings is just what the doctor ordered for healthy soil, recycling nutrients, and reducing weeds and pests. Learn more

Healthy Farm Benefits

Soil Health

Healthy farm practices build soil fertility—so less chemical fertilizer is needed—while reducing erosion and making the farm less vulnerable to drought.

Biodiversity

Fewer toxic chemicals plus a broader range of plant species equals a better habitat for birds, beneficial insects, and other organisms that pollinate plants and help keep pests at bay.

Economic Health

A healthy farm can be a profitable farm—and it can be an important contributor to the economic well-being of the surrounding community.

Environmental Health

A healthy farm uses less chemical fertilizer, pesticide, and antibiotics; reduces pollution of water and air; and shrinks global warming impact.

Resource Efficiency

Healthy farm practices can increase yields, reuse farm wastes, and make better use of marginal land.

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