Our guide outlines how to make a farm more efficient, with clever strategies to save energy, money and effort in the field.
The common definition of efficiency is wasting minimum effort or expense while achieving maximum productivity. Ultimately, efficiency is what all businesses strive for. And the agricultural industry is no exception. There are plenty of measures that can help to improve efficiency, for instance, through using different online tools like one of the EOSDA products.
We will cover the meaning of efficiency specifically for farming, along with the ways of improving it to make a farm more efficient as a business.
Efficiency in Farming
In farming, efficiency basically means yield. For decades, it has been the main indicator when comparing different seed performance and analyzing such factors as soil health and chemicals application rates. However, despite the yield being so critical, it is only part of the equation when measuring farm efficiency.
In modern agriculture, efficiency equals the amount of money it took to produce one bushel (or any other unit of volume) of a crop. The cost of producing one bushel is an easy and actionable metric to analyze. Knowing how much one bushel costs you allows for better and more rational marketing decisions.
To cut it short, improving farming efficiency implies increasing yield by reducing expenses on the production of one bushel of crop. Let’s move on to the ways that can assist in achieving this goal.
Methods and Techniques for Making a Farm more Efficient: 4 strategies
Here are the methods and techniques that most agronomists can implement to increase their farm’s efficiency.
Leveraging Gene Editing
Although genetically modified food is still a controversial issue, gene editing is of significant importance in the current condition of the growing food demand due to the increase in world population. It provides farmers with the opportunity to plant seed that has higher yield potential due to better resistance to weather changes, drought, and pest infestation.
Enhancing Field Monitoring
Different ground sensors are not unusual to a modern farm and are used to collect field data for monitoring plants and soil conditions. The gathered information is usually analyzed automatically by online tools that are connected to field sensors via cloud technology. Having precise field data at their disposal, farmers can make accurate decisions on the application of fertilizers, pesticides, and water. It not only maximizes overall farm efficiency but also prevents waste and fertilizer runoff.
Optimizing irrigation implies smart water use via building own drip irrigation systems. That means the application of only the necessary amount of water at the right time and place. It allows both for saving time and money on water overapplication and for environmental preservation.
These methods and techniques point at saving time and resources while increasing farm efficiency. But can you ensure that by just cutting on the unnecessary energy expenditures?
Saving on Hidden Energy
Saving on hidden energy implies saving energy that is used for crop production throughout its life cycle. For instance, almost 50% of the energy used in crop growing is for fertilizers, especially the production of nitrogen from natural gas. That is why it is smart to consider whether some of those energy expenditures are necessary for your farm to help reduce the overconsumption of manufactured nitrogen.
Another great way to save energy is soil testing. This allows for seeing what exactly the soil is lacking to see if the fertilizer application is even needed in the first place. Besides, farmers could consider using manure or legumes as organic alternatives to chemical fertilizers since they require much less amount of energy compared to nitrogen production.
Ultimately, although yield (production) is still key in the farm efficiency equation, knowing practices that help agrarians to achieve a higher level of production is superior when understanding and increasing profitability.
The agricultural economy of the future faces a fundamental challenge. By 2050, the world will have nine billion people. As a result of the population explosion, global demand for agricultural products such as cereals will grow by 75 percent, according to the UN, and demand for meat will also double due to rising prosperity and new eating habits in emerging markets. At the same time, the usable area for food remains limited and more and more agricultural raw materials migrate into the production of animal feed and biofuels.
In order to ensure the long-term nutrition of mankind, productivity in agriculture must be massively increased. More efficient agricultural machinery and more effective fertilisers, which allow an increase in yield on the existing arable land, are already on the market. New plant protection products that make seeds more resistant – for example, to drought or flooding – also promise great potential.
Last but not least, there are also optimization options along the transport and processing chain to limit, for example, the loss of food. The UN estimates that even in developing countries, where the majority of people suffering from hunger live, 170 kilograms of food per capita per year are wasted.
The world’s population is exploding, the race for soil resources is growing. This poses enormous challenges for agriculture, and farming will only be successful in the future if we learn how to make a farm more efficient as a business.