More than 10,000 years ago, agriculture revolutionized the way people live. It's the reason humankind stopped traveling in search of food and settled down in towns and villages for the first time.
Today, it's time for another innovation in agriculture: sustainable farming. While farming has provided us with our basic needs for millennia, modern farming practices can also be destructive.
However, sustainable farming practices that won't have the environment exist. Even better, these techniques can make your farm more profitable every year.
Wondering which agricultural techniques you should try this year? We've put together some of our favorite innovative farming ideas here -- keep reading to learn more!
You've probably heard of hydroponics. Aquaponics takes the concept a step further, by mixing hydroponics with aquaculture.
In this sustainable farming method, your plants get their nutrition from fish waste. Meanwhile, the plants filter the water so fish and other aquatic creatures can live in it.
Fish won't be the only creatures helping your aquaponics setup. Red worms and microbes also help keep things running smoothly. They both can take the ammonia out of fish waste and turn it into nitrates, and eventually, into the kind of compost that plants can use to thrive.
With aquaponics, you won't need any pesticides or weedkillers, since you'll grow your plants in water. This means that anything you grow will be organic by default. This is a safe, healthy, and sustainable way to grow crops.
The more purposes each building and piece of equipment can serve, the more sustainable your farming practices will be.
Innovation in agriculture doesn't have to be all about fancy technology. Sometimes, it just means getting creative with the things you already have.
For example, instead of buying a single-use building that you'll only use to store crops for part of the year, why not find a building you can use all year long for different purposes? Do you really need that new machine, or could a different tractor attachment do the trick?
This kind of creativity saves money, which is crucial for small farming operations. It also saves the environment by eliminating waste, making it a win-win.
In the offseason, instead of leaving the soil empty, plant some cover crops to increase sustainability.
Cover crops keep your soil healthy. They reduce erosion, prevent weeds from taking over, and add more nutrients to the soil. That way, you can grow your crops with fewer herbicides and higher yields every year.
Even if you don't have a rural space to work with, you can start sustainably farming too. In fact, urban farming holds some of the most exciting innovation in agriculture.
For example, vertical farms allow growers to maximize space and grow crops just about anywhere. This innovative use of space means you can grow more with less room.
A vertical farm operates far more efficiently than a traditional farm and gives much higher yields in the same amount of space. These setups use systems like hydroponics, which are efficient, organic, and sustainable.
Even if you have a traditional farm, you can still borrow some urban agricultural techniques. These methods can help you maximize your space, or turn unused buildings into places to grow crops.
Support the Bees
As bee populations decline, issues of reduced pollination threaten farming.
Making your farm bee-friendly is an important innovation that will help your crops now and in the future. You might even decide to raise bees on the premises.
If you prefer high-tech solutions, some farms have experimented with using drones to pollinate their plants. This technology is a long way from wide adoption. However, you might decide to become a pioneer by using drones to support pollination on your farm, too.
Use What You Have, Rent What You Don't
If you have empty buildings or unused equipment, find a purpose for it. This can help your space grow further, and reduce the feeling that you need to buy or build new things.
If you don't have a piece of equipment, try renting it before you buy it. This helps you keep costs low while reducing the amount of equipment that will sit unused for much of the year. Renting lets you see what you should really buy, and what you can get away with renting indefinitely.
In addition to renting equipment, you might even try renting land. It's more sustainable to rent than to buy a piece of land only to find out that you don't really need it. Renting ensures that if you don't use the land, someone else will.
Mix Crops and Livestock
Traditionally, farms always kept crops and livestock separate. But the more you can integrate these two facets, the more sustainable your farm is likely to be.
Integration lets you do more with less space. It keeps feed closer to the animals that need it and puts manure that you can turn into compost closer to your crops. You'll run a more efficient operation and make more money if you streamline your practices this way.
Get High Tech
New technology also helps your farm become more innovative and sustainable.
For example, everything from soil monitors to GPS systems can give you the information you need to maximize yields and farm more sustainably. Take advantage of technology and data, and use it to put new agricultural techniques into practice.
The Future of Innovation in Agriculture
The Industrial Revolution brought new equipment and techniques that changed the face of the farming industry. Today, we're poised for another revolution that will make farming even more sustainable and profitable.
Modern innovation in agriculture blends technology and creativity to get results. Whether you try one of these ideas or all of them, you'll improve your profits and help the planet at the same time.
Just getting started in the farming world? Don't miss these essential crop tips to set yourself up for success!