Sustainable agriculture treats the soil and plants differently - protecting a root basis and perennials more and tilling less - disrupting the soil less. Companion planting may also be used, mixing crops that support each other well. More hand labor is needed with that method, as the harvest is mixed. Traditional agriculture had a few animals for composted manure, and maybe an orchard or other long-term plantings in addition to annual crops.
I don't know the specifics about permaculture (permanent agriculture) but an author to read on the topic is Bill Mollison and he also has a book about traditional fermentation methods from around the world that looks very interesting and has recipes.
Permaculture: A Designers' Manual Hardcover – January 1, 1997, by Bill Mollison, (Amazon).
"Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order. Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms. The philosophy behind permaculture is one of working with, rather than against, nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions rather than asking only one yield of them; and of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions." - Bill Mollison, Permaculture: A Designers' Manual Hardcover, (Amazon).
Microbes are part of the health and diversity of soil and help us make delicious foods from things that may not be as edible otherwise. Microbes are also part of us. We are symbionts and the health of our mitochondria and gut microbes greatly impacts our energy level and mood.
Learning how to care for a diverse and healthy microbial population on the planet is good for us and other species. Biodiversity is associated with more health of the varied species in an ecosystem.
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