As a farmer, you are often close to nature, out in the fields sowing or harvesting crops. However, while this may sound like an idyll from an old English novel, the reality is that some practices are harmful to the environment. However, there are ways to be environmentally friendly in your agricultural practices.
Choose eco-friendly equipment, or buy used over new
If you are looking for farm equipment for sale, consider equipment that uses less petrol or that helps with improving crop yield in a non-harmful way. Certain tillers are able to aerate the soil and increase water movement and penetration. This helps with improving root development and resulting in a greater crop yield.
You can also opt to buy used equipment over new. All equipment is produced via a manufacturing process that uses energy and raw materials, so purchasing used equipment that is still serviceable reduces the impact on the environment of manufacturing new equipment. Always remember to perform thorough checks and tests of all used equipment, however, before you purchase any.
Put waste to good use
There is a huge amount of waste that is produced from the agricultural process, much of which is left to rot or is simply disposed of. You can consider using this waste as part of the fertilisation process, instead of using chemical fertilisers, which can be harmful and damaging to both outlying plants and to the soil.
Animal waste can be used for biofuels, saving you money on traditional fuel products. There are regulations, however, if you are considering this so be sure to ask your local agricultural authority about these. There may be issues with licensing, and if you are unable to produce your own, you may be able to contribute your animal waste to a biofuel producer in your area.
Try no-till farming
This may sound counterintuitive to many traditional farmers, but no-till farming helps with keeping carbon dioxide in the soil, reducing CO2 emissions. Carbon dioxide causes greenhouse gases, which is highly harmful to the environment. If you plant herbicide-tolerant crops, these contribute to no-till farming too.
No-till farming also contributes to protecting soil and decreasing soil erosion. Soil erosion leads to pesticides and other chemicals becoming trapped in the soil, polluting streams and rivers as the soil breaks away. It also leads to mudslides during wetter weather which can be dangerous to anyone living near or on your farm.
A working farm often has workers and farmhands living on the property, for ease of access for the day’s labour. You can save on electricity by making the homes of your employees solar powered, which is particularly effective in South Africa. We have sun almost year round, meaning that your solar powered homeowners will not have to worry about running out of power at any time of the year.
You can also use solar power for powering equipment that needs to be plugged in to use, or for heating greenhouses. Another unique way to use solar power is to use it power electric fences. A farm with animals requires fencing to keep animals in and intruders in, and a solar-powered electric fence is the ideal solution to this.
Remove alien invaders
Alien or invasive plants are non-indigenous plants that have been brought into South Africa by those who are uninformed about how they will affect the environment. Alien plants are destructive, using up large amounts of groundwater for their roots. This water could rather be used for crops or for human and animal consumption.
It is vital to identify and remove all alien plants on your property, no matter their proximity to your crops. Not only is it beneficial to the environment to remove these plants, but it mandatory by law to control or remove all alien plant species on the property. If this is not done, a fine could be given.
Go green with building materials
A farm is almost constantly being upgraded, from the buildings to the equipment. If the structure you are building is not one that will be used to house animals or equipment but is for general storage, try using recycled wood or metal sheeting, much of which can be found on the grounds of any farm.
Eco-friendly building process looks at the way in which maintenance, construction operation, renovations and demolitions are performed and changes them to be eco-friendly in their methodology. Look for materials that are produced by eco-friendly suppliers, and try to dispose of rubble and waste in an eco-friendly manner.
Farming has long been an industry that has a huge impact on the environment, but with some changes to methodology, crop care and farm maintenance, you can lessen your farm’s environmental impact. Make the change you want to see in the world, and see how you can impact and improve other farmers.