Sustainable Agriculture

Circular Economy- Agriculture Sustainability 

What does ‘circular economy’ mean? In recent years, this term has become more popular when talking about sustainability, but what does it truly mean and how does one implement these practices in a pragmatic sense? The circular economy method is ultimately trying to deal with the end state of materials, waste, and supply chains. However, that is such a broad definition it is hard to visualize it properly, in this blog post we will attempt to break down what a circular economy can mean and look like in an agricultural sense. What will the farming and agriculture industry look like once it becomes truly circular?

This applies directly to the BlueSky Harvests mission statement using patent pending WeightSense ™ technology on a home growing scale; if we are trying to design a new product and there are limited resources available in terms of investing in brand new patented technology or the up-front product leasing scheme- which will produce the most circular result? Sometimes, though it sounds counter intuitive, using renewable materials does not always result in less environmental impact. Sometimes trying to revitalize old technology creates more work and ultimately a less efficient design, leading to increased dependency on unsustainable practices. It can ultimately be better to scrap the old tech and start new and fresh using sustainability as the core principle in the new products design, which is the goal of BlueSky Harvests. 

When thinking of a circular economy in an agricultural sense, we are working to ensure resource cycles are closed, in similar ways to natural ecosystems (for example; ceasing the use of monoculture farming practices which we know are unsustainable in myriad different ways from depletion of soil nutrients making farmers become reliant on environmentally harmful fertilizers and nutrients and lack of biodiversity affecting other species- think of the honey bee crisis and almond farming.) So applying to working agriculture, all materials being used should be able to be cycled indefinitely, just as they are in nature. 

An example of this would be nuclear energy, because while it is highly efficient and cuts our dependence on fossil fuels- a very critical step to lessening the impact of climate change, nuclear energy comes with many other caveats that make it not very practical when considering the bigger picture. Nuclear energy creates waste that no one knows how to properly dispose of- the only thing known for certain is that it takes thousands of years to break down. We, as agricultural innovators, need to look at these practices through a more practical time scale lens. Shifting the perspective to look through the optics of the human life span of time, a fathomable timescale- not several generations and thousands of years, because burdening future generations to deal with our current lack of understanding of proper nuclear waste disposal is not only detrimental to the health of the population and environment, but additionally creates more harm than good. 

One of the biggest takeaways from the circular economy principle, is creating a thought out, closed loop system that is infinite- not finite. Instead of thinking of how to solve problems in the short term, like a band-aid fix, we need to be looking towards a much grander scale solution- the bigger picture that will benefit the population existing now and well into the future. Investment in long term solutions need to be made to ensure success well into the future for generations to come, not creating quick fixes that ultimately do not solve the core root problems. Some renewable energy is impossible to be generated without using scarce materials and still comes with a high environmental impact (CO2 emissions for example), we need to treat these scarce materials with care and ideally to be conserved, not depleted. 

Taking all these thoughts into consideration, the folks at Metabolic have created The Seven Pillars of a circular economy with these three core tenets; Equity, Resilience, and Transparency, we will briefly go over the seven pillars below; 

  1. Materials = that can be cycled at a continuous high value
  2. Energy = based solely on renewable sources
  3. Water = is extracted at a sustainable rate and resource recovery is maximized to the fullest extent
  4. Biodiversity = is structurally supported and enhanced
  5. Society & Culture = preserved through social governance 
  6. Health & Wellbeing = human and other species health are structurally supported and ultimately improved. 
  7. Value = is viewed not only in a financial sense, but in a community and environment understanding. 

Metabolic makes sure to emphasize that not all of these seven pillars should be equally prioritized, some are more urgent than others, one of those being biodiversity which has been severely negatively affected by climate change. Biodiversity is one of the biggest keys to sustainable agriculture, and so an emphasis on protecting and utilizing biodiversity in farming practices is incredibly important. At BlueSky Harvests, sustainable and practical ways to employ biodiversity through greenhouses, homegrown cultivated agriculture and equipment, and vertical farming, is principal to our mission statement. Ultimately, BlueSky Harvests aims to create sustainable solutions to modern agriculture that can be used both in small scale environments and large scale operations.