How Farming Can be More Sustainable – 2021 Guide

Long gone are the days when farmers only need to grow crops and sell. Nowadays, nearly all industries will need to reduce the impact on the environment and minimize their carbon footprint through their activities. Farmers are obviously no exception, and many are changing the way they farm. The agricultural industry is one of the main contributors to climate change, water shortage, deforestation, and soil degradation so for farmers to reduce this impact and to the environment, they will need more innovative ways of farming.

Historically, our foods have been produced via industrial agriculture which uses chemicals such as pesticides and inorganic fertilizers. These chemicals have the potential to damage soil, pollute the atmosphere and water as well as impacting the climate. Further, the planet’s resources get consumed more quickly using this method of farming. Many farmers are now using a different approach to farming, a sustainable approach.

Sustainable Farming

img source: liverur.eu

Sustainable farming will help make a positive impact on the environment, the economy, and our society. Currently, many farmers use a range of products that can do harm to the environment and cause lasting damage to the surrounding areas, rivers & animal habitats which is not sustainable. Something urgently needs to be done to stop this sort of activity by farmers for commercial gains. There are many methods of sustainable farming including the below:

1. Eliminating or reducing tilling

Tilling is when farmers use machines to agitate and turn the soil such as deep ploughing which could cause long-term damage to the soil, influencing the loss of organic matter, beneficial organisms and soil erosion. Overall, the impacts to the land are highly negative as the soil is left in a poor condition which doesn’t promote growth.

Moving large amounts of soil is also an expensive activity. It draws on hours of labor but it also has exceedingly high costs when it comes to fuel. Reduced tilling with the right management can see substantial savings being made and the end result is positive for the environment.

2. The use of renewable energy sources

img source: bioenergyconsult.com

Renewable energy has existed, in one form another, much longer than the fossil fuel energy that we are so reliant upon now. A major move that farms can make towards farming sustainably is to adopt the use of bio-digesters, solar power, hydropower, or wind. Farms that tap into these natural resources are taking the necessary steps to slow down climate change.

3. Combat pests naturally

Pests can wreak havoc with crops and reducing their impact is vital. The obvious method of dealing with these is to turn to man-made pesticides, these tend to be effective, but long term there are costs both financially and ecologically. The use of pesticides can lead to soil health deterioration and non-target insects are often killed along with the pests. A more sustainable solution can be found by turning to nature.

Farmers can take advantage of green technology or beneficial insects in the battle against pests. Many such bio-solutions can be bought and then released around the affected crop. The benefit here is the solution is targeted and with less use of inorganic chemistry.

4. Improving the efficiency of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers

img source: maximumyield.com

Fertilizers have long been accepted as an essential ingredient in the farming mix. They aid growth and can lead to larger yields and higher quality. The downside often cited is the detrimental effect that such fertilizers can have on the environment. The answer here is to make a switch towards sustainable fertilizers for plants by Verdesian Life Sciences. 

The use of products such as Nutrisphere N and Nutrisphere-NL, improve the efficiency of nitrogen. They ensure that more is retained for uptake by the plants. This is achieved by stabilising the nitrogen and reducing the 3 ways that it is naturally lost. Then there are products such as Avail that unlock the full potential of phosphorus. While phosphorus will usually be bound to the soil, Avail reacts and ensures more of the phosphorus is free for plant uptake. This leads to faster developing and healthier crops, while at the same time reducing the environmental impact on the soil, the atmosphere and on water supply.

5. Water management

Long-term sustainability means that how water is used needs to be effectively managed. This means that farmers should consider crops that are more suited to their location rather than cultivating crops that need extra assistance. For instance, if the farm is in an area that is dry, it surely makes sense to look at crops that require minimal water.

If this can not be done then it is probably the case that an irrigation system will be required. If this is the case, this needs to be properly planned to ensure that the use of water is as efficient as possible.

So, there you have it. We have explained in detail the different methods for farmers to follow to become more sustainable and to help reduce the damage that is being done to the environment. This damage does not only affect the landscape but also causes irreversible damage to animal habitats and to the land. This can cause a reduction in the population of extremely important insects and animals that help aid in the re-production of plants & ecosystems.

We urge all farmers, agriculturalists, and home growers to be more mindful of what products, fertilizers, GMO’s & insecticides are used in the production of fruits, vegetables, plants & crops across the UK. With a little effort from everyone, we can certainly attempt to combat the destruction caused by some of the more popular chemicals being used currently throughout farms and nurseries across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.