Sustainable Farming for the Future

By definition sustainable farming is meeting present needs without compromising future generations being able to achieve their needs. Farmers all over, particularly in the UK, are working hard to achieve a sustainable future. Consumers also have a big part to play in the wider picture.

Farmers are striving to reduce emissions, reduce waste, restore soils and protect local ecosystems. Agriculture in the UK provides an estimated 475,000 jobs, and almost 40% of farmers and growers are now using the sun, wind and farm by-products to produce clean, carbon-efficient energy.
Future-proofing farming in an increasingly demanding world is vital, and there are new developments coming through all the time which can support this.
Renewable energy is energy collected from renewable sources such as sunlight, wind, rain and geothermal heat. These can be naturally replaced within a human lifespan (up to 100 years). Farmers are increasingly using these sustainable technologies to provide themselves with a source of power and income, allowing them to continue to produce in an eco-friendly way.
Below are some of the developments in farming that are leading to a more sustainable future:
Anaerobic digestion – an anaerobic digester can produce electricity, heat and hot water. The process takes between 20-60 days to produce the biogas for these applications, it can also produce a natural fertiliser for land. Materials which are suitable for this process include manure, slurry, food waste and biodegradable household waste.
Solar panels – harvesting sunlight to generate electricity, solar panels are a popular product for renewable energy. They can also be installed discreetly so as not to visually impact sites too much.
Wind turbines – these may not be everyone’s cup of tea aesthetically, but they convert the kinetic energy from the wind into electricity, plus, they can become a real feature of the land if planned carefully!
Mixed grazing – working with the land and the seasons, a bit of planning can mean really getting the most out of land use. Using arable land to compliment grazing land ensures minimal (or, basically zero) food miles and also complete traceability of the food chain.
Natural fertilisers – manure can provide an excellent, organic fertiliser for soil and crops.
Animal welfare – high standards of animal welfare are essential to a sustainable future for farming. Free range, happy and cared for animals are the future. Farming takes passion, dedication and hard work.
Countryside Stewardship – this is a government scheme which works with farmers to help protect and improve the environment. This is through fencing, hedgerow maintenance, flood management, and also for providing support, food and shelter for wild birds and wildlife.
So…what can consumers do to help? Consumers can connect with where their food comes from – purchasing healthy, seasonal food from local producers makes a huge difference.
Food is exciting and creating delicious dishes from fresh, seasonal, local produce whilst supporting independent farmers and family businesses can really engage everyone with an enthusiasm for cooking, learning new culinary skills and eating well.
Making simple, healthy, low-waste, cost-effective meals is achievable for everyone. Knowing where your food comes from, and supporting those that produce it responsibly, is key (and if it’s home-grown by yourself, even better!).

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