Reducing Resource Use (Energy and Water) in Industrialised Farms

Resources such as energy and water are consumed directly and indirectly throughout the supply chain of products emancipating from industrialised farms.

The indirect use of resources in this context refers to the resources that are used for operations carried out by a third party on behalf of an industrialised farm as well as those resources used to fuel activities or processes that are linked indirectly to them. The indirect use of resources for farming processes can be the energy (https://permaculturenews.org/2017/06/07/benefits-energy-free-apliances/) used by third parties to pump water to a farm site and the energy used to operate hired trucks as well as the energy used to distribute farm products to the marketplace.

With regards to the direct use of resources in industrialised farms, these are resources consumed during farming operations that are within their direct control. Some examples of the direct use of resources in farming operations are the water used by farms for processing farm products and the energy consumed in operating refrigerating systems as well as the energy used to run tractors for clearing agricultural lands.

The supply chain areas where resources are used significantly can vary across farms based on their scale, location and farming practices. However, there are areas within agricultural processes that are likely to consume some significant amount of resources irrespective of their scale, location or adopted farming practice.

It is believed that the food processing, food transportation and storage stages within agricultural supply chains consume a significant amount of resources. According to the Circular Ecology, “around 16,000 litres of water is consumed to make just 1 kg of beef”. The use of this amount of water to produce 1 kg of beef is quite significant from a sustainability point of view and considering the fact that there are rising concerns about water scarcity and pollution in the world. In addition, this same source states that “Transporting goods by a rigid road truck is over 70 times more carbon intensive than bulk shipping”.

Here are a few resource use reduction tips that can be used by industrialised farms in the food processing, transportation, and storage stages to achieve resource efficiency.

Resource Reuse: An example of how resources can be used will be explained in the context of water. Water is used in food processing activities. The use of wastewater recycling and water harvesting solutions can make a difference to the way water is used in farms. Wastewater can be treated and cleaned as well as reused if it meets required health and safety standards. Furthermore, rainwater can be harvested and treated and used to carry out agricultural activities that rely on water, thereby conserving water resources.

Workers Sustainability: Resources such as energy and water are used in transforming farm produce into edible or viable products. Whilst it might be challenging or impossible to achieve 100% energy efficiency due to issues such as human errors, the use of resources in farms can be improved by constantly reminding workers of the need to save the environment by using fewer resources to do more operations. This can have a positive effect on the way agricultural workers use resources while at work.

Smart Technologies: There are smart technologies that can help businesses to detect energy and water wastage. These technologies can be adopted by farms to help them improve resource efficiency.

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