Renewable Energy Can Increase Sustainable Food Production

published May 28, 2018
2 min read

Adopting renewable energy sources not only benefits the planet but helps people, too. In modern societies, food production and resources are intrinsically linked. In places with a lack of traditional access to energy and water, food production can suffer. Green energy makes sustainable food production possible.

Waste in Food Production

Food production today is embarrassingly wasteful. In the United States, it takes 10 units of fossil fuel energy to create one unit of food energy. In the past, this disparity did not cause concern, but as the population grows, food requirements go up. Without a change in the energy sources used in agriculture, future farmers will need more fossil fuels to feed the world.

Additionally, more people are moving into areas that require food transported to them, using more fuel. Transportation costs also accrue when people import foods from around the world rather than eating local produce. The farther food must travel, the more nonrenewable fuels are used in its production. This wastefulness will negatively affect the number of available resources in the future unless something changes.

Meeting the World’s Food Needs

The amount of waste in food production is disconcerting for meeting the planet’s growing food needs. Experts predict the world’s population to surpass nine billion by 2050. And with rising incomes around the globe, more people are eating foods that were once considered luxuries, like meats and cheeses. Increasing food production through using green technology to make the process more efficient can help feed a hungry world.

Increasing food production sustainability means making better use of the land we’ve already set aside for agriculture. But this should not come at the cost of the environment. Incorporating renewable energy sources into agriculture can help increase the amount of food we produce while preserving the planet. It’s already happening in some parts of the world.

Increasing Productivity

Though it may seem like a gargantuan task to change agriculture, it’s possible. Plants have used solar energy to generate food since the dawn of time. Today, farmers harness this power to fuel their crop irrigators, which makes it easier to farm drier lands. For instance, in India, when farmers switched from diesel irrigation systems to solar-powered ones, they saved 161 percent of their earnings each year.

In Benin, the increased productivity of farms with solar-powered drip irrigation systems freed the women who farmed from four hours of daily labour. Thanks to the solar-powered system, the women had more time to care for their families, rather than tend the farm. With the renewable energy source for their irrigation system, the farmers would not have to worry about purchasing fuel for their farms.

Better Efficiency, Better Equipment

With a more productive farm, equipment does not endure the same wear and tear. By saving the farmers time and money, renewable energy sources on the farm could allow them to pay for repairs before their equipment breaks down. On average, waiting until a breakdown could cost two and a half times as much as fixing equipment before it fails. It makes better sense to make regular repairs to prevent this situation.

Renewable energy in agriculture also reduces the impact unexpected repairs have on their livelihoods. If a tractor or other major piece of equipment breaks, a greener farm could more easily recoup the cost in time and money thanks to the money saved by renewable energy sources. Over time, farmers could even invest in better, longer-lasting equipment.

Creating a Better Tomorrow

Sustainable agriculture starts by incorporating renewable energy sources into food production. When farmers can save money and time with greener products, they can invest in better equipment and become more productive. That increased productivity can reduce the current waste in agriculture while helping feed the planet’s growing population. The future of food production is on farms today in the form of renewable energy.



Emily Folk is a conservation and sustainability freelance writer and blogger from Lancaster, PA. Check out her blog, Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter for the latest updates.