Low-Input Agriculture Key to Increased Farm Incomes While Reducing Emissions
What comes to mind when you hear the word “sustainability”?
If you find yourself rolling your eyes or shrugging, you’re not alone. For many “sustainability” has become a buzzword, one that may not hold much meaning, at least not in the way it’s been tossed around in advertising campaigns or on sales sheets.
When farmers think of sustainability, they understand that the concept goes beyond the most widely used definition of ‘practices that protect the environment’. A sustainable farm is one that delivers both present-day and long-term economic viability at the same time as protecting the future health of the soil.
Driving Global Economies – and Farm Debt
Agriculture has long driven the economy of nations. In North America, governments have historically prioritized maximized agricultural outputs above all else. While this priority continued to boost economies and global trade, it also contributed to farmers maximizing their use of inputs to get as much return out of their crops as possible.
While this may have seemed viable in the beginning, farm debt in North America has risen rapidly, has doubled in Canada since 2000, standing at more than $500 billion today. While farm revenue is expected to outpace debt growth in 2021, the situation remains dire. The farm income crisis is forcing out young farmers and small farmers, reducing the number of overall operations in the country.
The resilience, hard work, and dedication of farmers has put food on family tables across the globe. Yet only 5 per cent of farm revenues end up in the hands of farmers. Farming practices that reduce inputs (and therefore reduce emissions) can only benefit the long-term viability of the industry, both economically and environmentally.
The Potential of Low-Input Agriculture
Of course, we know that farmers have long been the target of claims and promises that never come to fruition. Higher yields, increased ROI, more efficient operations – you’ve heard it all.
However, the most promising path forward – one that can help relieve both the climate crisis and the farm income crisis – is the adoption of low-input agricultural practices. Fewer inputs reduce both the financial burden on farmers to purchase the inputs and the emissions created by their use. In the 2019 report Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis, published by the National Farmers Union, general solutions are outlined, including:
- Increased adoption of electric power
- Use of existing technologies to reduce emissions
- A focus on decreasing emissions from nitrogen fertilizers, cattle and fuel use
- Distinguishing between soil carbon sequestration and emissions reduction.
“Path planning for agricultural field operations is a core activity that has a major impact on minimizing
economic (fuel, inputs, and time) and environmental (emissions, soil erosion, and water run-off) costs
for the farmer. The team at Verge are the first ones to develop a truly interactive web application that
integrates all the complexities of path planning in an accessible way to drive farmer adoption. We
believe this will be game-changing for farmers.” – Clay Mitchell, Managing Director, Fall Line Capital
Increase Net Income With Path Planning
Building and optimizing path plans can help farmers reduce the overall cost of farming, increasing operational efficiency and productivity without an added demand on a farmer’s time or energy. In addition, path planning can support 4R Nutrient Stewardship and sustainability goals.
Among many other features, Launch Pad includes Growing Season Analysis, allowing farmers to modify and layer path plans according to their needs and to evaluate dependencies for more efficient outcomes. This allows farmers to make decisions with more information, giving them more control over the way they choose to work their fields.
The only software of its kind currently available, Launch Pad provides an easy-to-use solution to automate your operation, increasing productivity and ROI. When paired with autonomous farm equipment, Launch Pad offers farmers the ability to manage their fields without ever having to set foot in them, executing path plans optimized by all of the data that is so often collected but rarely analyzed.
To learn more about Launch Pad, click here, or start your free trial by clicking the “Start Trial” button at the top of every page of our website!