When you think of a farm, you’re likely to picture a scene of bucolic beauty, with the sun rising over the backs of cattle munching on dewy grass. But the truth is that farms produce a carbon footprint of their own, and the industry as a whole has been reckoning with the environmental movement for some time, trying to become greener. Happily, they’re achieving this through better technology – digital, mechanical, nutritional, and medical – which is helping reduce the impact of farms on the environments around them.
The use of digital technology on farms is yet to become widespread, but there are certain areas in which it’s driving efficiency, reducing waste, and thus making farms a little greener. For instance, digital navigation systems are now being used to program the movement of tractors and other heavy farming machinery through fields. Not only does this optimism the sewing and harvesting process, but it’s a way for farmers to concentrate on other tasks around the farm that require the human touch. Meanwhile, farming data is increasingly being used to maximize yields, getting the most produce from a single patch of land.
Farms now use dozens of different types of machines to produce the food that you can buy in the supermarket. Many of these machines used to run on diesel, which is regarded as particularly polluting. Now, though, with the advent of better and more compact batteries, this is set to change. There now exists heavy electric machines for farms – and even electric tractors – which advanced farming firms are now using to reduce their carbon footprints and help do their bit for the environment. Expect this trend to pick up towards the end of this decade, when these machines will become far cheaper.
Animals need to eat, and plants need feed. But traditionally, the food given to both plants and animals has been processed, containing chemicals that help them fertilize and grow into larger and, therefore, more profitable products. These chemicals then run off into local waterways, where they’ve been shown to have an impact on the environment. So the rise of plant-based, natural nutritional foods is a huge win for the entire industry, with products like natural betaine feed helping farms to reduce their chemical impact on the environment without compromising on their animals’ health.
For farms that focus on livestock rearing, a huge inefficiency in the past has been the number of animals that die before they reach a certain age or those that die from the disease. In both cases, this is due to undiagnosed and potentially avoidable illnesses that better technology is now able to hone in on and spot earlier. Take, for instance, widespread livestock diseases. These are tracked with far greater accuracy today, with vaccinations available against the most damaging illnesses and diseases. Given that farms use energy to produce food, it’s far more environmentally efficient for them to avoid any deaths – as they’ll provide the most food to the consumer in the process.
These are the four most important ways in which farms are working towards eco-friendly practices, with a helping hand from emerging technologies.