The agriculture industry is changing a lot right now, and consumer trends are driving that change in a big way. Many people are changing their diet and opting to cut out meat and dairy, often because of questions about the environmental impact that is caused by livestock farming. Even where crop farming is concerned, there are still big questions about water use, especially in areas that are prone to drought.
The consumer is more concerned about the source of their food and the methods used to grow it than they have ever been before, which means that agricultural businesses need to adapt if they want to keep up. Whether you are a full scale agricultural business or you are just growing a few crops as a side hustle, you need to consider sustainability and find ways to make your operation as eco-friendly as possible. If you are not sure where to start, check out this list of the best ways for farming businesses to reduce their impact on the environment.
1. Reduce Water Consumption
Water consumption is one of the major problems in agriculture right now, and as more areas start to see serious water shortages, it is vital that farms are able to cut back on the amount of water that they use. The good news is, there are some very effective ways that you can do that.
Firstly, you need to start recycling water as much as possible. If you get a few large water tanks, you should be able to collect a lot of water during the winter, and even though it may not be enough to water your crops throughout the summer, it will reduce the burden on the water supply in a big way. It also saves you a lot of money, so it’s worth investing in a system to collect rainwater.
The irrigation systems that you use make a big difference as well, so you may want to consider an upgrade. A drip irrigation system is far more efficient than a standard sprinkler system, and it can save you a lot of water. Water is delivered directly to the roots of the plants as and when it is needed, which means that a lot less water is needed and the plant is watered more effectively.
If you couple drip irrigation systems with smart irrigation software, you can save even more water. These amazing pieces of technology connect to the internet and monitor weather forecasts, so they only water the plants when it is not going to rain. By setting strict schedules, you can manage your water consumption a lot more effectively.
2. Recycle Waste
The waste products that a farm produces need to be managed in the right way if you are to reduce your impact on the environment. The local authorities will have guidelines about disposing of certain items, so make sure that you are following the correct procedure. However, it’s better to recycle some of that waste if you can.
A lot of farm waste, like food scraps or dung, can be used to create biogas. As the organic matter breaks down, it releases gases, which can be harnessed and used as fuel. You will need to invest some money setting up a biogas system, and compressed air and gas treatment systems to clean the biogas, but once you have made that initial investment, you can actually save a lot of money. Biogas can be used to power vehicles and equipment, making your farm more eco-friendly and saving you a lot of money on fuel at the same time.
There is also a lot of plastic used on farms, and it’s important that you recycle as much of it as possible. There is a huge public campaign to cut back on plastic use at the minute and any business that is not seen to be helping the situation is likely to struggle. The good news is, there are recycling schemes available to help you manage this waste and ensure that it is recycled. Make sure to do some research and find a scheme in your area so you can cut the amount of plastic that you send to landfill.
3. Generate Renewable Energy
Generating renewable energy is an incredibly effective way for farming businesses to offset some of the damage that they do to the environment, and improve their public image at the same time. Space is one of the biggest hurdles that we face when trying to use solar panels or wind turbines to generate power. You may be able to fit a few on the roof of a house, but it is not always enough to provide all of the electricity that a household needs. Farming businesses have a great opportunity because they have a lot of land that can be used for solar panels.
Many farmers are using entire fields for solar panels because it’s an effective way to generate extra income. If you own a lot of land, you should definitely consider this route because you can also use some of the electricity generated to power equipment on your farm.
4. Soil Protection
Intensive farming methods can take a toll on the soil and cause damage to the local ecosystems, so it’s vital that you take steps to protect the earth. This is not only important because it protects the environment, but it also ensures that soil is fertile for growing long term, so your business is stable.
Regular crop rotations are important because they improve biodiversity in the soil and ensure that it is supplied with a range of different nutrients. You should also use cover crops and off-season crops to maintain the soil when you are not growing cash crops. Cover crops also help to prevent erosion from the wind and protect the soil further. It’s also important to avoid disturbing the soil as much as possible so it retains healthy organic material and you reduce erosion.
If you run a farming business, it is essential that you take these steps to reduce your impact on the environment if you are going to stay relevant in the current climate.