Sustainable planting is an approach to planting design and landscaping-gardening that balances the need for resource conservation with the needs of farmers pursuing their livelihood. The demand on resources, specifically land/crops, is constantly increasing due to the long human lifespan. It is a form of sustainable agriculture and, “it considers long-term as well as short-term economics because sustainability is readily defined as forever, that is, agricultural environments that are designed to promote endless regeneration”.
The idea of sustainable planting can be dated back millennia, when the ancient Greeks and Chinese practiced organic farming, the oldest method of farming. Later this practice was largely replaced by inorganic farming. In 1907 Franklin H. King in his book “Farmers of Forty Centuries“ discussed the advantages of sustainable agriculture, and warned that sustainable practices would be vital to farming in the future.
Sustainable planting does not necessarily consist only of planting native species. Some ecosystems may benefit from any increase in biomass, from the introduction of certain non-native species, or any increase in biodiversity. In the case of disturbed areas, such as areas where energy pipelines have been installed or areas where military activity has taken place, some exotic/non-native plants may fare better than the displaced, native inhabitants, in the process increasing the biodiversity and biological biomass. Sustainable planting may also involve crop rotation provided that they are used effectively. At the very least, constant crop rotation will prevent soil erosion, by protecting topsoil from wind and draining water. Effective crop rotation allows enough time for pest pressure on crops to be significantly reduced, and for soil nutrients to be replenished. This, in turn, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Specifically in terms of industrial agriculture, increasing the genetic diversity of crops by introducing new germplasm can significantly impact the heartiness of crops (cost permitting).