Implementing sustainable practices isn’t the responsibility of just one person or link in the supply chain. It’s a necessary shift that all industries need to make. So how can we, as a society, make sustainability easy, accessible, and mainstream?
In fact, it’s easier than you’d think. One of the best ways to better promote sustainable practices is by investing in our roots: agriculture.
What do we mean by sustainable agriculture?
Sustainability is a big word (for more reasons than its 14 letters). To us, sustainable agriculture means employing practices that drive efficiency, affordability, and, most importantly, less waste.
With the realities of climate change becoming harder to ignore, it’s important that we define the biggest issues in agriculture and outline practical solutions. For this reason, the goal of sustainable agriculture is “to meet society’s food and textile needs in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Why focus on sustainability?
Sustainable agriculture is in itself an investment: it will pay off. Think cost–, time–, energy–efficiency, and reliable and consistent results. However, aligning environmental sustainability with economic sustainability is often a point of contention, with detractors arguing that current economic growth is hinged on today's not-so eco-friendly activities.
Achieving environmental sustainability becomes less graspable when companies focus on immediate gratification. That’s why investors have a perfect opportunity when backing sustainable agriculture.
What needs to change?
The impact of agriculture is far-reaching. From the care and collection of crops and livestock to deforestation for more farmland. According to the EPA, these agricultural practices produce one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Farms need reliable processes that won’t threaten the resources and ecozones we rely on and that won’t need consistent changes and tweaks.
That’s not to say that changes shouldn’t happen; sustainable practices just solve this problem. Investing in sustainable agriculture now creates a better future, a step in the right direction.
1. Plastic-free products
No, saying goodbye to plastic doesn’t mean throwing it in the ocean and hoping to never see it again.
Plastic waste management is an imperfect colossus when it comes to turning the world around. But who do we blame and how do we implement real change?
While we struggle to find effective methods to dispose of plastic products, more and more plastic is still being made each day. In fact, with over 100 years and billions of tons of plastic production, only 9% of the world’s plastic is recycled. Clearly, this isn’t enough.
Within the next few years, we’ll learn to stop distributing plastic, stop relying on single use of plastic products, and stop pretending that recycling facilities are effective solutions, but are rather a last resort.
Plastic collection schemes have been mainstream since the ‘80s. But this process only allows certain plastic products to be repurposed once or twice, after which, the down-cycled material is sent to a landfill, ocean, or incinerator. So, while over 155 million tons of plastic is wasted, criticizing this industry is essential in order to reach sustainability.
To accelerate the shift away from plastic, there are a few trends gaining some traction.
Replacing fossil-fuel-based plastics with bioplastics is among the most innovative solutions. Bioplastics are plastic materials that are created from renewable sources, often corn starch, potatoes, vegetable fats, woodchips, sawdust, and other types of food waste. Same products, greener production.
I’m sure you’ve heard of boxed water. Of course paper is better for the environment than plastic. While paper that is food-stained can’t be recycled, it can be composted, a much more sustainable alternative.
Yes, companies plant trees in exchange for the trees they harvest. That’s part of what makes paper a more sustainable resource. However, it also has its downside. Deforestation harms ecosystems and animal habitats. It’s not a perfect system. (And replacing a hundred year old, huge tree with a sapling isn't exactly sustainable either).
Reuse is not a new idea. But when it comes to trends, we’re approaching a social expectancy of reuse. While reusing materials is by far the most eco-friendly option, is it sustainable? The answer depends on the material and frequency of use. To be sustainable, the practice must be, literally, sustained over time. This brings us to our next point.
Regenerative agriculture takes sustainable agriculture to the next step.
Rather than just implementing processes that won’t degrade soil or harm the environment, regenerative agriculture promotes nutrients and aims to eliminate the need for synthetic fertilizers, increase crop productivity and yields, promote biodiversity, conserve water, and sequester carbon in soil. The best part is, most regenerative agricultural practices are achieved rather easily and affordably.
But what does it mean exactly? Regenerative agriculture describes “farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.” In short, it’s farming that betters the land and resources, rather than deplete them.
One major form of regenerative agriculture is composting. Composting, especially, is constantly evolving. It’s not just rotting fruits and veggies. It actually works to sustainably replace synthetic inputs like herbicides and fertilizers that are used to manage in-crop insects, weeds, and diseases.
Aside from composting, regenerative agriculture comes in many forms, like no-till farming, intercropping, cover crops, and tile drainage. All of this promotes carbon sequestration and can prevent soil erosion, improve water use efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Aside from these ongoing benefits, investing in the diverse world of regenerative agriculture helps farmers reach their full potential in terms of incorporating sustainable practices and tending to climate concerns.
Until now, green energy extraction hasn’t exactly been accessible to the average Joe.
Farmers are increasingly using their land for green energy extraction, whether for personal use or to sell back to their municipalities.
Green energy extraction (and its storage) increases the value of the property, giving it yet another avenue for resource extraction. This opens diverse doors for investors.
Investing in green energy can also help farmers who struggle with ways of storing green energy, which often vary depending on the time of day and weather. However, solar, wind, and biomass energy are otherwise unlimited and thus sustainable; they will not run out.
Upcycling food waste and energy
Food waste is unsustainable for obvious reasons. Upcycling food waste is a trendy way companies are repurposing food waste for profit. From orange flour to day-old bread beer, digging in scraps is proving to be a sustainable investment.
Not only does upcycling help farms dispose of waste and unwanted materials, it’s also an investment in unique and sustainable products, such as health supplements, sweeteners, fashion and clothing items, and even cleaning products.
From “leather” made of mushroom roots to shoes made from used gum, converting natural waste into new products reduces the amount of materials that are otherwise burned or left to rot and produce greenhouse gasses which contribute to global warming.
Circular solutions in agriculture like these set off a chain reaction of productivity, including job creation, better waste management, and fewer expenses for all industries. However, the ability to produce more amazing products like these depends a lot on how farms are able to dispose of waste. That’s where investors help. By backing farms with greener goals, like the ones FarmTogether offer, you help pave the way to more circular solutions.
What we’ve lacked in agriculture is the ability to receive information in real-time. Farming is not all fields and dirt. In fact, the agriculture sector is a leader in the implementation of new technologies. We see this in solutions like tracking, automated reporting systems, artificial intelligence, sensors, and more.
Having the ability to monitor productivity, water usage, and waste is essential to a more sustainable future in agriculture. When investing with FarmTogether investors can ensure the productivity of their farms by receiving regular automated updates on farmland investments.
Blockchain is a base technology used to share information. It’s defined as “a decentralized, distributed ledger technology that records the provenance of a digital asset.” All this means is that information and assets can be securely, efficiently, and transparently shared.
Aside from company workflow tools, blockchain use helps supply chains with visibility, therefore reducing biodiversity loss, water scarcity, and human rights breaches, while also helping to balance ethically-sourced and high-quality products.
Invest in sustainability now!
By investing in farmland, you get a say in how agriculture works and what practices are being used. Together, investors and farmers can build towards a future in agriculture with wealthier ecosystems, thriving soil fertility, and ultimately reduced carbon emissions, in order to reverse the effects of the climate crisis over time.
In order to achieve these goals, FarmTogether connects investors with diverse investment opportunities in sustainable agriculture. You can help promote sustainable technologies in agriculture by investing with us today.
At FarmTogether, our mission is to leverage technology to support sustainable and profitable farming. See our current investment opportunities here.
Download our free Farmland Investment 101 White Paper to learn more about farmland as asset class