Find out about the importance of sustainable agriculture, potential solutions to achieve it and how you can contribute. The future of farming is here!
Agriculture is the world's largest industry. Intensive agriculture as it has been practiced since the 1960s has very high yields, but depletes the soil and pollutes the environment: greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, etc.
The recent awareness of the limits of natural resources and pollution of soil, air and water, is pushing for sustainable farming. What are sustainable agriculture solutions?
The Solar Impulse Label is granted to innovative sustainable agriculture solutions that meet high standards of sustainability and profitability.
Each solution goes through a strict assessment process performed by independent experts.
Automatic irrigation system using the sun to power and alter the watering, according to current conditions and season
A solution to improve the efficiency of nitrogen fertilizer applied on crops
An aquatic connected weather station for real-time water-quality monitoring
Acidification of ammonia to reduce airborne pollution from slurry application
An optimized drip irrigation system for outstanding water saving, ease of use and plant growth
Equipment for establishing and maintaining efficient seaweed farming
Drone-based data analytics delivering environmental savings
Large areas vegetation maintenance using herds of industrial solar robots
Digital supply chain monitoring and elimination of chronic waste problems
A feed additive certified to reduce enteric methane production in dairy cows and beef cattle
Green agriculture is the application of the sustainable development principles to agriculture: ensuring the production of food, wood and fibers while respecting the ecological, economic and social limits that ensure the durability of this production. For instance, sustainable farming minimises the use of pesticides that can harm the health of farmers and consumers.
Key principles are linked to sustainable agriculture:
Sustainable farming methods include:
Crop rotation and diversity
Crop rotation is the practice of growing a variety of different crops on the same plot in sequenced seasons. Polyculture is an important element of soil fertility management and pests, and therefore an asset for increasing yields.
Cover crop is an intermediate culture between two production cultures. Its main function is to protect land against erosion and enhance soil quality.The use of cover crops reduces the need for chemicals such as fertilizers.
Reducing or avoiding tillage allows to grow crops without disturbing the soil arrangement and thus reduce erosion, but also increases the amount of infiltrating water, boosts organic matter retention and nutrient cycle.
Integrated pest management
IPM is based on experimentation and observation, allowing to develop crops in harmony with their environment and make them profitable. It takes into account biological methods of plant protection and ensures their integration, in order to control the development of pests while minimizing the use of chemical pesticides.
Agroforestry & natural animal raising
Agroforestry is the association of trees and crops or animals on the same plot. This ancestral practice allows a better use of resources, a greater biological diversity and the creation of a microclimate favorable to yield increase. Likewise, a smart integration of animal production can be a recipe for more efficient crops and profitable farms.
Renewable energy use
For agriculture to be sustainable, using clean, efficient and renewable energies is crucial. Examples of renewable energies and energy efficiency in agroindustry systems include solar irrigation, geothermal heating and drip irrigation.
Smart farming and precision agriculture play a crucial part in sustainable agriculture, using big data and new technologies such as IoT, drone imagery and smartphone apps to harvest as much matter and products as possible, while consuming less energy and inputs (fertilizers, phytosanitary products, water).
The 3 main goals and benefits of sustainable farming are:
The first advantage of sustainable agriculture is the protection of the environment, reducing erosion and natural resource degradation, improving air and water quality, increasing biodiversity, as well as decreasing carbon emissions.
Public health improvement
Sustainable agriculture don’t use hazardous pesticides and fertilizers. As a result, farmers are able to produce safer and healthier food for consumers and surrounding communities.
Economic and social equity
Another benefit of sustainable farming methods is that they provide decent income, but also jobs, food and other goods and services for the majority of people now living in poverty. Besides, it allows to boost rural territories and create social links between the rural and urban world.
1. Food security and productivity
Sustainable agriculture will have to prove itself facing with intensive agriculture. Even though it is more reasonable, it cannot offer the same short-term returns. With the growing population and the persistently high levels of hunger and malnutrition, sustainable agriculture yields need to address the food security issue by producing more in less time, while using fewer natural resources.
2. Natural resources availability
The other big challenge that green agriculture is facing is undoubtedly the rapid degradation and depletion of natural resources.
A label focused on both the environment and profitability.
For the first time a label proves the economic profitability of solutions that protect the environment. The Solar Impulse Foundation is selecting 1,000 solutions that protect the environment in a profitable way and awarding them the Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions Label.
Collaborating with independent experts and with renowned institutions, the World Alliance proposes to evaluate its members solutions free of charge. The Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions label will offer a competitive edge to innovators and a guarantee of quality to solution seekers.
A label focused on both the environment and profitability.