Farming News - Heading into the Future with Renewable Farming

Heading into the Future with Renewable Farming

14 Nov 2018
Frontdesk / Renewables

Currently, the world is only using 25% of its renewable energy generated from natural resources, meaning the globe is still heavily reliant on unsustainable, environmentally-unfriendly fossil fuels.

It is striking, and perhaps unsurprising, to see the world is not taking effective action to reduce global warming’s impact, especially when harmful gases and emissions pose a serious threat to our ecosystems.

Luckily, the farming industry is exploring different ways to run its machinery on alternative energy supplies, highlighting the various options the sector can adopt to make a committed transition to renewable energies.

The extensive use of heavy machinery in the day-to-day running of agribusiness has been in existence since the Industrial Revolution. Over the years, and as many similar land-based industries turned to mechanised production to increase yields and sustain finances, this proliferation of fuel-guzzling machinery has inevitably taken its toll on environmental health.

But, because the farming world and other industries alike are seeing the damage caused by the overuse of fossil fuels, action is being taken. Within the past decade or so, better action has been taken to farm smarter, adopting new technologies to improve sustainability across the sector. These technologies, including robotics and drones, are energy-efficient alternatives which, unlike tractors, remove the production of harmful emissions, such as greenhouse gases.

But what kinds of renewable energy supplies should the industry turn to? The farming industry has the technology to produce food sustainably, but what are the cleaner options to oil and petrol?

Utilising renewable energy sources
At the moment, UK food production is heavily dependent on the use of oil to fuel machinery. Although there are ways to store and dispose of oil safely, there is no denying the fact it is hardly a sustainable solution to powering the country’s farms into a greener future.

So what are the alternatives and, more importantly, are they efficient?

Biofuels: Estimated to reflect 3.4 to 7.5% of UK energy consumption by 2020, biofuels are a great solution to alleviating the industry’s dependence on oil and fuel. Biomass converts organic matter into renewable energy (biofuels), creating resources such as biogas. Methane from animal and plant waste can, and is, used to power tractors, for instance. Other biomasses include: grown resources (cereal crops), grasses and other forestry, and residues.

As waste is a natural by-product of the growing process, biofuels are effective alternatives for both small and large scale farmers and are a friendlier choice to damaging fossil fuels.

Solar energy: For pig or poultry farmers consuming a high amount of energy on a daily-basis, solar PV panels are the answer to transforming excess energy into their own supplies.

Solar panels absorb sunrays to convert them into energy – and they still produce up to 25% energy on a cloudier day. To save costs, farmers can produce solar energy through a power purchase agreement (PPA); alternatively, farmers can purchase a battery storage unit which enables them to draw on their own energy supply when needed.

Making a more assured transition to renewable energy supplies is highly important to sustaining the health of the planet and indeed the agriculture market. Moving away from the use of harmful fossil fuels will relax the industry’s reliance on oil to power machinery; and will effectively improve the industry’s sustainability as a whole.

But more importantly, and as the UK steadily shifts into an uncertain Brexit-based political period, renewable energies also guarantee self-sufficiency. As UK industries are heavily dependent on overseas oil imports, the transition to communal, domestic renewables will be the farming world’s saving grace. It’s a solid move towards ensuring a more resilient, sustainable and independent future for UK agriculture.