Agriculture resilience is dependent on our farmers. What happens on the ground, year over year, will determine our future food security, supply chain stability, and in many ways, the future of our planet.
How can we enable the transition to sustainable practices on the ground? Farmers, policymakers, and sustainability experts discussed this at Regrow’s Agriculture Resilience Summit.
Together, we determined three core strategies for successful on-farm practice adoption:
- Enable support on the ground
- Support tech innovation
- Incentivize farmers appropriately
Enable on-the-ground support
In order to scale agriculture resilience, we must arm farmers and agronomists with the tools and knowledge to adopt sustainable practices.
A critical component of this support is empowering agronomists, who can help farmers develop and implement conservation plans tailored to their specific operations. These agronomists can provide farmers with technical assistance and advice on sustainable farming practices, as well as demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits of those practices.
Program developers, NGOs, corporations and other organizations can help empower agronomists by providing access to education and technology that facilitates sustainable practice adoption.
However, in order to do this effectively, they must connect with farmers and agronomists to understand their true needs, provide tools that have demonstrated effectiveness in farming communities, and allocate support in a way that incentivizes action for those in the field.
Continue supporting tech innovation
Continued support for technological innovation is essential for enabling a successful on-farm transition.
Technology and conservation go hand in hand — something we’ve seen demonstrated in precision agriculture. Precision agriculture can help farmers make smarter decisions on the field, increasing the efficiency of inputs and reducing the more harmful side effects of farming (nutrient leaching, runoff, increased fertilizer/Nitrogen use, increased fuel usage for machinery passes, etc.).
Now, we have an opportunity to increase our efficiency and support sustainable practices with climate data and predictive analysis.
Today, tools like satellite and hyper-spectral imagery can help farmers get even more granular with farming practices by accessing valuable data on soil moisture, nutrient deficiencies, and disease in crops. These tools can also help us understand farming on a larger scale, by analyzing data on weather patterns, growing seasons and the effects of farming practices on GHG emissions. By applying predictive analysis to this data, we can even start to understand how crop production and climate are likely to change over time.
With these tools, we can get a better holistic picture of the impact of food production on our climate, and vice versa. Utilizing these tools will be essential in building resilience on the farm and across our food systems. It’s like precision farming, but on a macro scale — and it’s an essential part of building agriculture resilience.
Providing appropriate incentives is crucial in encouraging farmers to adopt sustainable practices.
We’ve seen programs that pay farmers for the environmental benefits of their practices, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving water quality, or enhancing biodiversity. This can be done through government programs, private sector initiatives, or a combination of both.
This is a great incentive — but it’s only the beginning of what we can do.
Let’s co-invest in more programs with partners across the value chain. This will increase the value we’re offering farmers and allow farmers to realize a more significant return on their investment in time and resources.
We can also explore ways to incentivize continued action with farmers, rather than paying only for the work they’ve already done. Let’s make it easy for farmers to pave the way for others in their communities, building upon farmers’ expertise and accelerating the rate of adoption.
Finally, let’s streamline incentives so farmers can see at-a-glance the true value of their efforts. Providing farmers with an overview of the benefits associated with practice adoption — basis points off loans, government subsidies, payments for conservation programs, educational tools offered by project developers, etc. — can further incentivize and accelerate practice adoption.
Learn more about agriculture resilience and how to build it at resilience.regrow.ag.