Sustainability. It’s not just the hottest buzzword in agriculture over the past few years. It’s changing the entire future of the industry. Read on to discover four key sustainability-driven trends that are creating opportunities—and perhaps some challenges—for agriculture as we know it.
1. Circular Economies
A circular economy is an alternative economy that seeks to keep resources in use for as long as possible. Instead of make, use, dispose (the basic steps of a linear economy), circular economies extract the maximum value out of resources while they’re in use.
For example, the poultry industry produces mass amounts of chicken manure. In a linear economy, that manure—from conventional poultry production—is collected and used conventionally as fertilizer. In a new circular economy, the nutrient-rich manure is processed to remove pathogens and odors and altered through the process to be used in new ways as an organic fertilizer. Yeah, that’s a new idea. Check out EnviroKure.
2. Alternate Protein Sources
The growing global population, the debate about meat in diets and even pressure from groups opposed to animal agriculture are escalating the demand for alternative sources of protein. Rather than judge those trends, entrepreneurs are seeing market potential.
This presents a challenge for meat producers who must manage these issues proactively. It’s also an opportunity for crop producers, as many of these alternatives are plant-based. Industries like soybeans, potatoes and wheat are likely to experience increased growth potential as more consumers look outside of meat for their protein needs. See Impossible Foods.
3. Emerging Marketplaces
One foundation of sustainability is reducing or, in best-case scenarios, eliminating waste. That’s a tall task for many farmers whose produce is rejected by buyers for being aesthetically less-than-perfect
Enter an emerging marketplace that connects farmers with buyers who aren’t concerned with the look of the produce. Through new web-based platforms, farmers and less picky purchasing companies can now find each other and work through the buying/selling transaction of visually imperfect produce, improving profitability potential for growers while also greatly reducing waste. (Check out how Meijer grocery stores are addressing this issue with their new Misfits program.)
4. Machine learning
We are in the midst of the smart generation. We have smart phones, smart cars and even smart water. Now agriculture is following suit with the next generation of smart equipment. Today, technology exists that allows farmers to preset the latest equipment to automatically perform tasks with greater precision. This heightened efficiency and accuracy improves sustainability by reducing the amount of chemicals needed to target weeds and perform other crop maintenance. Check out a new launch from Blue River Technology.
Think Different® is not just a mantra behind a somewhat famous advertising campaign for Apple computers. It’s pretty much a requirement for any business focused on long-term survival. That is, after all, the basic definition of sustainability.
Want to learn how to set your business and brand apart as a sustainability trendsetter? Contact Mark Gale at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 262.563.5100.