The American agricultural industry plays an important role in feeding the US and the world. However, there are inherent and systemic challenges that face the raw agricultural process and the agricultural lifecycle. One of these challenges is agricultural waste.
The term agricultural waste refers to residues from growing and processing of dairy products, fruits, crops, mean, and poultry. Agricultural waste can be in the form of slurries, solid, and liquid.
The commitment to ensure that waste is properly disposed is not a mandate of the farmers, but of the American and global population. Therefore, the farmers are not alone in this endeavor. One of the most efficient ways of waste management is recycling.
This article is going to guide you on the importance of recycling in your farm.
Types of Waste Materials
There are many types of waste materials that farmers are going to encounter at one time or the other. These include bags, plastic, silage wrap, netting, and traditional bags. Other types of waste include slaughterhouse waste, cow dung, and manure.
The principle behind aquaponics is the usage of effluent from fishing ponds in order to feed the plants. There is treatment of water by the plants where nitrogen as well as phosphorus are removed. The waste provided by the fish farm is a form of fertilizer. Therefore, this waste does not pollute the environment, but rather, it is recycled early enough.
Aquaponics is common in the US and Australia. It is also common in arid areas where water is not common. In addition to that, farmers is urban areas may appreciate the principle of aquaponics due to land being expensive and the fact that land is generally small in size.
The importance of Recycling for a Farm
By supporting recycling, you are actually giving others an employment opportunity. Waste management initiatives employ thousands of employees all over the country. The industry is growing in leaps and bounds, thus offering a promising future. By giving work to such individuals, then you are supporting the American community.
Recycling is viewed as the greater part of sustainability and social responsibility. Organic waste is a reliable source of fertilizers. Therefore, such a strategy is going to save a lot of money in fertilizer. Again, some modern farmers are thinking about how to replace the conventional chemicals due to the disadvantages that they pose.
There is a strong correlation between the use of recycling and climate change. There are multiple factors that contribute to the phenomenon of climate change, with the degradation of the environment being the most pronounced. By cleaning up the environment, then you are playing a critical part in the mitigation of climate change.
Recycling ensures that there is no accumulation of general farm waste, dead stock, and waste from pesticides. This can attract the pests, which in turn, do spread the diseases. This could harm you, your family, employees, and animal life.
The Question of Plastics
Environmentalists have cried foul over the use of plastics in the US. Despite advancement in technology, there are no viable solutions which can be used to replace plastics in an affordable way. Again, the business community has cried foul over the limitations on the use of plastic bags stating that it affects their businesses. Accumulation of plastics in the US has affected eco-system functioning as well as the landfills.
Unfortunately, a big blame on the accumulation of plastic goes to American farms, including the small farms. Elizabeth Grossman, writing for Ensia, says that sources of plastic in farms include PVC water pipes, plastics sacks, and irrigation tapes. Other sources of plastic include wrapping of bales, covering of greenhouses, and storing of pesticides.
Naturally, the large farms are going to produce far more waste. Gene Jones, commenting from Southern Waste Information Exchange, states that the US agricultural sector alone contributes to 1 billion pounds of plastic waste. Such a big amount of waste is going to be counter-productive to the efforts of environmental conservation.
The good thing is that American farmers have dropped some habits such as burying of plastic and burning of plastic. This is after seeing the negative effects that such habits have over the environment. Therefore, recycling is the most viable option of managing the issue of plastic waste in the country. In the current American market, only 10 % of the plastic waste is recycled. American farmers should also consider using biodegradable waste.
Livestock and Recycling
The livestock industry is a source of odor, pathogens, and gases. Therefore, managing such pollutants will play a critical role in protecting the environment. The good thing is that livestock waste can be used to support crop production.
Manure is perhaps a livestock waste product which can be used to support crop production. Years of using fertilizers in farms have shown that fertilizer is not the best product to use in American farms due to its negative effect on the farms. With years of the use of fertilizer, the quality of the soil becomes weaker with time. In addition to that, the extra fertilizer is washed downstream thereby contributing to pollution of the environment.
The US can borrow from India and China which have mastered the art of biogas production in order to meet the needs of their big production. Biogas is not only efficient and clean, but also a renewable source of energy.
As a farmer, you can think about where you can sell livestock waste, and the market could be willing to buy the same. If you are looking for a buyer, you need to wait for your waste to pile up, and sell it in bulk.
Companies in the natural gas industry are engaging farmers in order to buy waste from their farms. This is an effort to find a replacement for natural gas. In other words, manure could become a gold mine in the future as Americans seek alternative sources of income, and these are opportunities that you can take advantage of.
The best thing is to work hand in hand with the Municipal Council in order to ensure the proper management of waste. You will find that some services are going to be offered free of charge.
There are non-profit organizations which work hand in hand with the agricultural industry in order to enhance recycling of waste in farms. Such non-profit organizations can help you in the collection of waste products such as pesticide jugs.
You need to be very careful about the safety of the organic waste. It has been reported that organic waste could contain heavy metals. There are two main sources of heavy metals in the USA: urban areas and the farms. Heavy metals are less than 0.1 % on earth, but they are known to have a devastating effect on humans and animal life. The paradox of heavy metals is that they are very important to life, but when they exceed a certain pre-determined level, they are toxic. Examples of heavy metals include lead, copper, zinc, and cadmium.
You cannot have a successful recycling strategy in isolation. If your farm is free from waste, and the surrounding areas are not, then such an initiative is not going to be consequential. The best thing is to collaborate with your neighbors and the community at large.
It is very important to understand that recycling of agricultural waste can be an expensive process. Therefore, farmers should be sure to incorporate that cost in the budget. The good news is that recycling is equally rewarding and it carries a high cost of return on investment.
The following three words could form an effective mantra for handling farming wastes:
Examples of farming practices that support reducing and recycling of waste include the following:
-Making silage with the use of a chopper baler. This enables one to use fewer bales
-Rapid wilting in preparing silage leads to better concentration of sugar as well as a drastic improvement in the dry matter
-Buy livestock feeds in bulk in order to make less use of plastic bags
-You should consider re-using your seed bags
Recycling and the Law
Where the law might not require you to recycle all the waste, the law will not allow you to dispose waste as you want it. For example, in Nashville Recycling any actions regarding waste disposal must be done in the spirit of the protection of the community. The government will not take it kindly when it knows that your behavior is affecting animal life, marine life, and other people’s lives.
The law keeps on changing. Therefore, check with your state and municipal authorities on what the law saying. It is your responsibility to be responsible about what the law says concerning your profession or niche.
The Help of a Professional
It is possible for you to have a Do It Yourself (DIY), in recycling. After all, recycling could be a part of the day to day work. However, in order to do a better job, think about seeking the advice and services of a professional. Whereas you are good at farming, you may not be good in activities such as recycling which is a science.
When seeking a service in agricultural waste and recycling services, think about insisting on a customized and tailor-made service. Different farms are going to be in need of different agricultural services. A one-size fits all strategy is not going to work for your agri-business and it is inconsequential.
Agriculture comes with its set of expenses, and you need to make informed decisions concerning the cost. Cost containment is a critical skill of a farming manager. Remember that you should only pay for the products and the services that you need.
Professionals have the relevant expertise and experience which they can bring in to your farm in order to help you in your recycling. You may not be able to solve complex problems that the recycling industry poses to a farmer. In addition to that, you may not be able to have a deep knowledge in recycling and you may not employ the best practices.
Towards the Future
The future is going to bring better opportunities for the recycling of waste in farms. This is due to better technological solutions and more opportunities in research and development. It is therefore important that American farmers position themselves for these opportunities and take advantage of them as soon as they are rolled out.
In the future, the country is going to appreciate the American farmers more. More people are shying away from farming with few replacements. As the older generation continues to age, and the younger generation preferring other professions, then, American farmers will have more economic opportunities and less competition. The population is increasing, and therefore, there is a need to seek solutions towards the best way of feeding the population.
Research needs to be carried out on more effective use of biogas. It has been reported that biogas could, with better refining techniques, replace crude oil. Whereas this is an ambitious objective, the viability of the idea cannot be entirely ruled out. Such advancement takes long to initiate, but it does achieve a lot in the long run.
The future of any industry in the US heavily depends on the research and development that actors involved in the industry undertake. This is majorly a responsibility of the government and the private sector. However, as a farmer, you can still participate in research and development through the following:
-Making observations on peculiar characteristics that your farm faces
-Filling out surveys and being truthful
-Working hand in hand with authorities in order to identify problematic areas in agriculture
-Writing articles about farming (and you could be paid for it)
The importance of recycling in farming cannot be under-estimated. It is beneficial to the farmers and the country as a whole. As a farmer, recycling should be part and parcel of the farming process. If you follow best practices, you will definitely reap the rewards that come with recycling.