In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic had a huge and damaging impact on our population, planet and economy. For months, it was as if many parts of the world had to come to a complete standstill, and in some places, where national lockdowns had been imposed, it literally had.
However, this crisis also afforded us the opportunity to learn from our past mistakes and to see just how fragile our ecosystem is. Taking a step back, many people have become concerned about disaster preparedness plans for the future and what we can do to slow climate change.
And right now, as the world begins to emerge from the pandemic, there are lots of questions that need to be answered. One of the biggest being how can we choose more sustainable and eco-friendly practices that benefit our planet and its people.
One such area, in particular, is the agricultural sector. Greenhouse gas emissions from farming and agricultural practices account for a huge percentage of climate change, not to mention this industry is often the reason for deforestation and a change in land use.
But with an ever-growing population, the demand for food is always on the rise, and farming cannot afford to come to a halt, leaving many wondering what farming is going to look like in a post-covid and more eco-friendly world.
Below we’re going to take a look.
There will be better support and protection for farmers
First and foremost, with so many proposed and expected changes to the farming and agricultural industry over the next decade, more initiatives are being created to help support farmers. After all, we must protect those who play a key role in not only feeding the nation but also helping to protect the planet and get new sustainable practices in place.
Farming will see a flurry of innovation
Over the last decade, we’ve already begun to see new digital technologies being applied to farming to automate time-consuming processes, make smarter predictions, reduce emissions and more. For example, GPS technology makes self-driving tractors a reality and sensors allow farmers to comprehend their crops at a micro-level.
However, we expect to see this innovation in the digital space continue, particularly with regards to implementing sustainable practices and cutting carbon emissions. From robo-tractors and biofuel crops to IoT devices, the industry is going to see a flurry of innovation and new technologies that promote sustainability and change the face of farming forever.
The demand for equipment will continue
Just because there will be new technological advances, this doesn’t mean traditional farming equipment will fall by the wayside. And, as with many industries trying to recover from the pandemic, the agricultural sector is currently experiencing shortages of new equipment and supplies.
This is due to problems in supply chains, as well as a shortage of components from manufacturers, especially for heavier farming equipment. This, in turn, is driving the prices of new equipment through the roof, something which most farmers cannot afford right now as we try to recover from the crisis.
But with a massive increase in the demand for food, farmers are in need of more equipment and more land to meet this demand. The solution? For many, this will mean many are looking for and buying used or refurbished equipment to see them through – even if this is just a short term solution.
And let’s face it, in a throw-away world where a lot of single-use items remain, re-using and refurbishing machinery and equipment is going to be a big step towards sustainability and more eco-friendly practices.
People will move towards more local produce
One of the biggest challenges facing the agricultural industry and, therefore the planet, is the demand for huge volumes of produce, which means a lot of food is imported. Firstly, this is bad news for the planet as it contributes further to emissions, and secondly, it’s all part of today’s consumer culture where people expect certain foods to be readily available all year round, even if they wouldn’t be naturally.
However, due to supply issues and people’s increasing understanding of their impact on the planet, this is likely to shift in the future. Consumers are going to favour more local produce and embrace the ‘from farm to table’ trend that has begun to appear in so many restaurants.
This means that farming is going to almost take a step back in time to when it used to serve its local community, rather than being expected to feed people hundreds of miles away. And this can only be good, not just for the health of the people and the happiness of the farmers, but also for the good of the planet.
The landscape of farming will diversify even further
And finally, one of the biggest ways to help slow climate change is to curb the overconsumption of animal and highly-processed foods, and more and more people are coming to realise this. So, with more people opting for vegetarian and vegan options, farmers have to diversify their offerings.
Thankfully, farmers are no strangers to diversifying their revenue streams, with many switching from traditional meat and dairy farming to producing more eco-friendly and sustainable options such as beans or leafy greens. And this looks set to continue into the future as farmers breed fewer animals to accommodate this new shift towards more plant-based diets.
Now, this is not to say that meat and dairy consumption will disappear entirely, leaving farmers to adapt. Rather, there will be a reduction in the volume of animal farming we’ve come to expect and a shift towards more environmentally friendly crops.
Not only this, but there will also be a shift towards more sustainable and regenerative land farming. This focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity and improving the water cycle, as well as enhancing ecosystem services. This will increase the lands resilience to climate change and make the farming practices more sustainable for the future.