The green movement is fast gaining traction due to the rising impact of global warming, which is affecting major sectors such as agriculture. As the effects spread, the impacts on food production are becoming imminent, evidenced by global hunger, increased nutritional illnesses, and declining food volume.
Experts propose a range of strategies to deal with the impact of global warming on agriculture and food production. One of the proposals is innovative food and energy practices, which focuses on using sustainable practices for agricultural production and agriculture playing a role in driving clean energy adoption. These innovations may take different forms, but green agriculture and energy practices could help drive global sustainability standards and practices with the right support and strategies.
Why Energy and Food Sustainability?
The global agricultural sector is one of the leading activities that require more energy to sustain operations. Energy is essential for operating different machines used for different purposes. As the global population demands more food, change is necessary since the sector will require more energy. Eventually, the use of fossil fuels will rise, further affecting the environment.
Agriculture plays a significant role in environmental preservation and prevention of global warming; however, the input is limited than the anticipated amount. Failure to address the rising consumption of fossil fuel for agricultural machinery will eventually make the sector one of the leading contributors to global warming. The sector should lead all these initiatives as the world races to promote innovation and sustainability in various areas. This requires collaboration between farmers, manufacturers, regulators, and other players.
Sustainable Energy and Agricultural Practices
The agricultural sector has the potential to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by 15%, paving room for other sustainable practices. The initiatives include the following
1. Going Electric
Agriculture machines mainly depend on fossil fuels, making them among the top global polluters. Therefore, the sector should consider going electric to meet their energy needs for major machines such as tractors, harvesters, and mixers. Charging these machines should not be a challenge for farmers. Vast agricultural farms have vast spaces that for energy generation in the forms of solar and wind energy. They can set up charging stations on the farms or at major points to charge all the machines.
Other farm activities should also rely on the renewable energy generated for purposes such as food preservation etc. Already companies such as John Deer are electrifying their machines. However, the efforts would be more progressive and fast suppose farmers produced the energy locally. Without clean energy, adopting these machines will lead to other challenges, such as increased electrical bills that farmers may struggle to pay.
2. Locally Produced Energy
Whether field, indoor, or vertical, farmers have the responsibility and can play a significant role in promoting energy generation. They can be co-energy producers to support the grid or generate energy for indoor and field activities. For instance, indoor, horticulture, and vertical farmers can use facility rooftops for solar energy production. The energy can also help control indoor activities such as temperature regulations and LED lighting, which is necessary for optimal crop growth.
Farmers in large fields can schedule some farms for activities such as setting up wind turbines at different intervals to produce energy. Alternatively, they can set up the turbines at various points to boost energy production. Farmers have the greatest potential to increase clean and renewable energy while producing foods from the same farms.
The other alternative is the use of biogas and waste-generated energy. This can be ideal for animal farmers using animal refuse as energy generation raw materials in biogas facilities. Channeling all the waste to biogas systems on the farm will help farmers produce the energy needed for other minimal uses such as lighting and other homestead uses.
3. Agriculture for Biofuels
Currently, corn is one of the leading sources of biofuels globally. Corn energy can boot the cleaner energy initiatives, especially in countries leading in corn production, such as the United States. The other crop that can help boost biofuel production is soy. It is one of the potential replacements for corn for biofuels. Increasing soy and corn production improves global biofuel energy production to supplement other activities.
Global biofuels can also provide the energy required for agricultural logistics and distribution trucks. Using biofuels for logistics and supply chain improves sustainable supply chains in agricultural companies.
3. Aquaponics And Sustainable Mineral Generation
Large-scale aquaponics needs energy for different reasons, such as controlling the mineral contents in water for the fish. The process may consume more energy, especially if the team constantly monitors the mineral levels. Instead of all the expenses, the farms can reduce energy demand by focusing on other sustainable practices. This involves using crops, mainly legumes, to boost the nitrogen content the fish needs.
Plants also play a significant role in purifying water and eliminating waste materials. Secondly, the fish will provide other minerals from their wastes. Minerals from fish waste, such as calcium and phosphorus, are suitable for facilitating plant growth and leafiness. This circulation is ideal for sustainable energy and food production practices, especially for small-scale farmers.
Practices To Support Food And Energy Innovation
Agricultural practices and activities have tremendous potential to promote energy and food sustainability; however, some of these efforts may not come to reality due to major shortcomings. Therefore, there is a need for more effort to boost the uptake of sustainable innovation for agriculture.
One of the efforts includes global goodwill and support by organizations such as governments and NGOs to boost and support the production of crops such as soy for global nutritional needs and the biofuels energy sector. Advocating for increased production of these crops has the potential to deal with global hunger while promoting sustainable energy practices and usage. Bi-products from biofuel plants also have other purposes, such as animal feeds.
The second approach is to increase financial funding and backing for these activities. This includes offering financial incentives and other assistance to companies to increase electric and automated agricultural machine production. Agricultural subsidies can also help farmers acquire solar panels, storage systems, wind turbines, and other sustainable energy and food production resources.
Finally, the sector could benefit from more research and innovation practices supported by multidisciplinary teams. Such collaborative efforts will be ideal for creating innovation to support sustainability goals and objectives.
Innovation in food and energy will require a lot of effort and collaboration from various players. Though the sector already has some changes, there is a need for a radical shift to boost its potential and enable it to reach optimum capacity and capability. There is a need for more funding, goodwill, support policies to speed up the uptake processes, research, and development and reduce resource acquisition costs.