There is a change happening in the agriculture industry – as concerns for our environment grow, so does the desire of farmers to do their bit by introducing sustainable farming practices.
Today, a growing number of innovative farmers and scientists are developing ways to help your farm engage in sustainable farming practices.
At MSP, we can advise farmers on how they can get on board with sustainability without compromising the economic viability of their farm. We’ve put together a guide to help you get started – read on to find out how your farming practices can be made more sustainable…
Maintaining healthy soil
Building and maintaining healthy soil should be the number one priority for arable farmers. We recommend planting a variety of crops in your fields, instead of just focusing on one specific crop. Practicing crop diversity and rotation will result in healthier soil and improved pest control.
Planting ‘cover crops’ like clover is also a good idea during the off-season, as soil that would be otherwise left bare is protected from erosion and the growth of weeds. They also replenish the soil with vital nutrients that may not be produced by your other crops.
Crop diversity and cover crops therefore reduce the need for harmful herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilisers, meaning your farm can reduce its impact on the surrounding environment.
Managing water responsibly
Because farms use such large volumes of water, it is essential that it is managed wisely and not needlessly wasted.
It is vital you manage water sustainably through good stewardship of the natural systems and resources your farm relies upon, as even in the UK water supplies aren’t infinite. One way to gather a sustainable source of water is by collecting and storing rain water.
Smart water management considers not only how much water you use to irrigate crops, but when and how often you use it. Irrigation scheduling can prevent the under or over-watering of crops by monitoring the weather forecast and soil moisture levels to assess the optimum times for watering crops.
Traditionally, farms have relied on fossil fuels to power their heavy machinery, but an increasing number are now turning towards sustainable energy sources.
Farmers are well placed to practice the use of renewable energy resources. Acres of open land lend themselves to solar panels which can generate power for the use of electric fencing and operating pumps and heaters.
Investing in a windmill can also supply wind power for similar purposes, and if you have a river on your land you could even harness hydroelectric power to run some of the machinery on your farm.
These alternative energy sources may present a large investment initially, but they do over time result in a cheaper, and far more sustainable, energy supply for your farm.
It is vital that farmers engage with sustainable farming practices today in order to preserve the agriculture industry for the future. This doesn’t have to be hard – small, simple steps can be taken towards sustainability, and MSP are here to help.