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Agricultural changes of the last 20 years

20th February 2014 Print

In the last twenty years the world has become obsessed in saving energy – and rightly so. However, whilst those involved in agriculture are among those who’ve been asked to save energy, they have also been asked to increase productivity in a bid to feed a global population that is continually increasing.

It is a situation that has been brought about mainly by climate change and the imbalance it has brought to many of the world’s areas. Poor and arid countries have had even less rain than normal; the downside of which is a decrease in crop and vegetation growth, which in turn has reduced livestock production that has caused shortages of milk and meat.

Increased crop losses have also been caused by extremities of weather, disease and insect attacks. 2011 was an exceptionally bad year, and the drought that caused many crops to be wiped out around the globe escalated food prices worldwide.

Whilst some countries, mainly those in the third world, have failed to address this problem, or at least come up with a solution – China pro-actively addressed their situation of an escalating population by adopting a one-child is best policy for families.

Regardless of the political issues arising from China’s solution, their policy has affected agriculture with a demand on resources being expected to coincide with a drop in population. However, as climate change has made wheat harder to grow in northern areas of China, many Chinese people are turning to a more meat-based diet. The effect of this is the new challenge it brings: a demand for more cattle feed and the requirement of more land to house the cattle.

Whilst the western world can count itself lucky in comparison to poorer places on the planet, in a bid to help these poorer countries – the emphasis for producing more food to feed the rest of the world has brought about its own burden for the agricultural powers of the west. Whilst all the time they are under pressure to conserve energy.

In a bid to meet both requirements, agriculture has constantly been looking to find ways of conserving energy whilst optimizing production. This is a battle that has been won on many fronts with many farm machinery companies like Tow and Farm devising farming equipment and agricultural machines like that help farmers, and many farmers are being actively encouraged to use energy calculators and tools that are designed to reduce the usage of electric, fuel and fertilizers.

Energy saving tools can help farmers save energy using their current equipment, and also advise where exploring newer renewable energy options would be financially and productively beneficial in the long run.

Energy conservation tools cover areas such as dairy, ventilation, grain drying, water, storage and lighting, whilst renewable energy alternatives come in the form of biogas, biomass, turbines, solar electric, solar panels and solar water heating.

Other areas of natural conservation include optimizing nitrogen based fertilizer use. This is done by firstly calculating the ideal amount of fertilizer needed to cover a certain area depending on soil confirmation, weather and the type of crop being grown. Farmers are then encouraged to invest money on machinery that is designed to spread the ideal calculated amount of fertilizer – simultaneously optimizing productivity of the crop and energy savings.

Fertilizing machines with the capacity for optimizing distribution are often made by small specialist companies, who tailor machinery specifically to clients needs by using state of the art 3D printers, software and CNC Production Machinery.

It’s easy to see how climate changes and a growing population are forcing long-standing agricultural practises to be abandoned in favour of new ones that optimize energy savings and production. It is something that needed addressing – and will continually need to be readdressed in the future.