Here’s another example of how waste can be reduced on the farm!
Farm sustainability via use of organic fertilizer.
Our farm has been practicing sustainable agriculture for its obvious economical and environmental benefits. In attaining this sustainability, we utilize the goat’s manure from the barn as organic fertilizer in the orchard. Through this approach, we capitalize the organic fertilizer’s versatility and robustness in improving the soil properties through multi-pronged ways structurally, biologically and nutritionally. In addition to fostering improvement in the quality of soil, this method averts the relying on chemical fertilizers.
With orchard nourished organically, the farm nurtures itself as a promoter of organic farm products, keeping tab with the increasing worldwide demand of this niche, which has been growing steadily at a rate close to 9% annually for the past decade. Higher demand converts into competitive pricing and therefore, boosting the farm’s revenues, and placing it a competitive position for organic supply niche.
In 1979, the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations (FAO) proclaimed October 16th as World Food Day.
Today is a global observance designed to raise awareness and understanding of different approaches to ending hunger. Food is a wonderful thing, and thanks to new technology and innovation in farming practices, farmers today are able feed around seven billion people globally! However, because our population is growing at such a fast pace, there are still roughly a billion people around the world that do not get enough food. This means that almost 1 in 7 people go to bed hungry every night. As our population has grown, hunger has become an increasingly prevalent issue. World Food Day seeks to remind us of this challenge, and also spotlight the different ways in which we can help the farmers tasked with overcoming it. Every year, World Food Day is accompanied with a theme. Last year, the theme was “Food prices- from crisis to stability.” This year, the theme is “Agricultural Cooperatives- key to feeding the world.” As many farmers know, an agricultural cooperative is a member owned organization which allows farmers to pool all of their resources into different areas of activity. According to the FAO, agricultural Co-ops are fundamental in providing solutions to the hunger problem because they allow smallholder farms to negotiate better prices for resources such as seed, fertilizer, and equipment. Take for example one of AGCO’s customers, Agrifirm. Agrifirm is a Dutch cooperative that serves over 17,000 Dutch farmers and horticulturists. They offer “maximum purchasing advantage of high quality products like animal feeds, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.” In addition to product purchasing power, Agrifirm also offers knowledge and sustainable solutions to its members. Cooperatives such as Agrifirm allow farmers to access to knowledge and equipment that will help boost farm productivity at a lower cost. The more that small scale farms are able to produce, the better they will be able to support their local regions. This is why the U.N believes agricultural cooperatives to be a key element in providing for our world. It is no secret that farmers are faced with a huge task in supplying food, fiber and fuel for a rapidly growing population. It will not be easy—but with the proper resources, continued advances in technology, and widespread participation—it will be possible. Learn more about world food day, and see how you can help make a difference!
Maintaining farm sustainability for a small agribusiness
Sinar Utara Agrofarm (SUA), a small Malaysia-based farm that breeds over 100 goats and is host to a six-acre plantation orchard has always been an advocate of farm sustainability. We started this focus some four years ago. Central to this effort is our emphasis on a zero-waste concept. On our farm, the zero-waste concept is driven by recycling elements, which is acutely orchestrated through effective farming dispositions.
Here, the waste or residue from sugar cane and Napier grass are turned into compost used to maintain the soil humidity during hot or drought season. As the country resides within the tropical climate demography, embracing hot and humid season throughout the year, this practical approach is highly beneficial. The residue, made up of organic matters, self decompose into nutrient-rich compost which makes it a fitting conditioner that keeps the soil moist. Mobilizing the farm-generated materials back into its operating fold truly defines SUA’s ratifying commitment to sustainable farming. It has also benefits the farm by keeping the expenses at a minimum, bolstering optimization of resources, and aiding creation of healthy farming environment.
Today AGCO proudly published our first global sustainability report. The report describes our approach to enhancing the sustainability of our business processes and global agriculture. It presents data supporting the strategy and updates progress towards change. “At AGCO, sustainability is vital to our vision to offer high-tech solutions for farmers feeding the world,” said Martin Richenhagen, Chairman, President and CEO of AGCO. “We are in a very unique position to impact sustainability along the manufacturing and agricultural value chains. We developed our approach to provide the best impact to both.”
In 2011, AGCO kicked off a comprehensive corporate sustainability initiative. We developed a plan to invest in projects and program development in areas that will reduce operating expenses, develop revenue opportunities, and reduce operating risks.
We are already working to design and develop solutions that address the evolving needs of farmers and reduce environmental impacts. The report, which aligns with the Global Reporting Initiative™, includes company accomplishments such as:
- Downstream-focused innovation: In 2011, AGCO directed $275.6 million to research and engineering, a 25.5% increase over 2010.
- Operations: Among AGCO’s largest wholly-owned sites, more than half are certified to ISO 14001 and/or the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. Going forward AGCO will monitor and report energy use by source and develop an energy management program that drives efficiency and cost saving across its organization.
- Supplier relations: AGCO released the company’s Supplier Code of Conduct to build and strengthen relationships with preferred suppliers that support quality, environmental stewardship and high labor standards.
During the first half of 2012 AGCO began building the structures to drive accountability for our performance. AGCO’s development and progress will be disclosed yearly in our sustainability report.
The full report can be accessed at http://www.agcocorp.com/company/sustainability.aspx.
The first I heard of Sustainable Agriculture was in Robert Rodale’s New Farm magazine in the 70′s. It made sense as our farm practiced similar methods to the ones he described since grandpa moved his family the home farm in 1918.
The farm consisted of a 5-year crop rotation, limited plowing, and raising enough livestock to consume all of the production of the 300-acre general farm. The manure was spread back on the soil and cultivation was kept to a minimum to protect the nearly and highly erodible soils on the farm.
This worked well until the agricultural crises kept building momentum in each decadal cycle and the wheat price couldn’t be fed or sold at a profit nor the livestock or products you fed it to. There was no room on the farm for a third-generation so I was sent to college to make my own life.
I taught vocational agriculture and became an extension agent in 16 years. By then the sustainability movement was growing and agents visited Rodale’s Farm and taught the principals to those who were interested. Most of agriculture went to specialized production instead and cash grain farming, confinement hog and poultry production instead. Beef, dairy and lamb remained pretty much the sustainable way but dairy soon joined specialization.
The essence of sustainability to me is leaving the place better than you found it. I taught in my classrooms the principle of healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy livestock, and healthy humans; the chain is connected. Rodale and Albrecht’s teachings helped me learn these principles and teach them to others.
My mentor Paul Reed, Washington, Iowa teaches “speak with your fields.” Farmers will ask you how you did that. My crops right now are speaking volumes through this record drought. I attribute this to the sustainable practices of reduced tillage, balanced fertility, crop rotation and careful management.
I do this profitably by farming with used AGCO machinery and preventive maintenance. AGCO is usually the best buy in the marketplace new or used and lasts a long time; we still use 50 and 60-year old equipment. I have taught reduced tillage to thousands of other farmers across this country and beyond. The White Planters 5100 no tillage planter is the best one ever built in my mind. And the farmer designed Gleaner combine is easy to maintain.
I keep my cost of production low using these methods while yielding beyond my county average. The best part is my soil doesn’t wash away and gets more productive each year. Cover crops is an exciting new part of our crop rotation.
Sustainable Agriculture is a must for my grand children and just makes good common sense. AGCOhelps keep me farming sustainably.