Organic farming has grown rapidly in recent years, surpassing $45 billion in sales in the US in 2017. The amount of acreage dedicated to organic farming has increased as well, by as much as 20% between 2011 and 2018. Still, the industry faces many barriers to growth. After all, even at 20% more acreage, organic farming still only accounts for a small fraction of farming in the US. One of the biggest factors is the increased time and manpower it takes to manage an organic farm. Solving problems like how to increase crop yields and extend growing seasons, while still maintaining organic methods, will be key to promoting the further spread of organic farming and food production.
New Developments in Farming Greentech
Green technology can help. Already, some of the most successful organic farms are finding natural ways for new greentech to fit into their practices. Alternative energy is an obvious fit and can help provide added power with a minimal environmental footprint. In fact, passive solar energy, in particular, can turn unused or underused space into a source of power.
Space is another major issue. With modern farming methods, crop yields can be increased in a small space — even more so if you’re not concerned about soil degradation, runoff, and the other environmental issues. So one area where new technologies are helping support organic methods is in the development of vertical farming techniques. This technology can be used in conjunction with organic methods and could help bring sustainable farming into urban areas, further reducing the environmental impact of the journey from farm to table. Even drones are being used as a tool to support organic farming methods, by providing a low-energy way to monitor large areas. Since personal attention is so important to managing a sustainable farm, having “eyes in the sky” helps promote sustainability while making it easier to grow over large areas.
Supporting Organic Methods
These are just some of the ways in which greentech is already supporting the growth and success of organic farming. Interestingly, a lot of people assume that organic farming is about eschewing technology entirely, but new tech is being integrated into organic food practices every day. One big area of growth that tends to go overlooked is the role of software and other planning technologies in maintaining an organic farm. As data analysis improves, so does our ability to manage farmland in a sustainable way. Fine-tuning is part and parcel of any organic project, so there’s a natural fit for farm management software in organic growing.
So new technologies, whether explicitly green or not, can be helpful supports for an organic farm, helping to increase crop yields, cut down on grow times, and make organic produce more accessible to everyone. After all, the environmental gains from organic growing are best achieved by spreading the practice. Green technology makes that easier to do, and it’s just one of the reasons why so many organic farmers are tied into cutting-edge environmental science. As we learn more about the environment and proper agricultural management, we might find even more ways for green tech to support sustainable growth, and help organic farming spread into new areas.
Author: Jenny Holt
Jennifer Holt is a freelance writer and mother of two, who loves nothing more than to play, “where has the cat hidden itself now.”