Published on Thu, 03/08/2012 by Royal Bank of Canada

Sustainable business practices improve farm productivity

Canadian farmers have an established track record as leaders in sustainable farm management and are always looking for new ways to improve their farming practices, while minimizing their impact on the environment. With the latest innovations in new technologies, farmers are now able to do far more with much less.

"It's no surprise that farms employing sustainable business practices such as farming with GPS or implementing water-saving best practices use less energy and generate lower greenhouse gas emissions," said Gwen Paddock, head, Agriculture and Agribusiness, RBC. "By creating the right mix of environmental considerations and efficiency improvements, farmers can also enhance productivity and profitability, which makes good business sense."

Here are some tips from "Growing from Strength", a report on sustainability in agriculture, to help farmers increase productivity:

  • Increase efficiency of inputs -- Switching to energy-efficient equipment or installing water meters on irrigation equipment can reduce energy and water consumption, thereby reducing energy costs. Reviewing energy and water bills can also help you better understand your environmental footprint.
  • Reduce cost of inputs -- Targeted use of fertilizers and pesticides or implementing no-till best practices, which require less fuel, can improve soil fertility and increase crop yields which directly impact soil productivity. Keeping these costs low can help you maintain your farms profitability.
  • Invest in innovation --Investing in new renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels, wind turbines and biofuels can help offset rising costs of fossil fuel-based energy inputs putting less pressure on already stressed natural resources. As with any new technology, the cost of early adoption can be high but over time costs will diminish.

For more information, visit the rbc.com/business-advice.

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