The current price (17/06/20) of Brent crude is very low at US$41 and we are told that known oil reserves are sufficient to last over 50 years. However, it is important to take a longer term view in terms of your own particular farming business. Regardless of the oil reserves and the price, the coronavirus crisis has served to reinforce the increasing pressure of the last several years to use cleaner, natural energy in order to care for the environment, including people’s health. Before the crisis governments across the world were already developing policies to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and this will certainly continue. As of February 2020, 189 countries have signed up to the November 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change, which focuses on the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Since then countries have been developing their own individual policies under the umbrella of the Agreement and with firm targeted actions. Thus the pressure is on to reduce the use of polluting fuels that release many toxic substances, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide. It is important that all farming businesses incorporate this reduction into their business plans, from both an economic benefit as well as a corporate social responsibility aspect.
The technology is already well advanced and widely used around the world to replace petrol with ethanol produced from sugar beet and sugar cane. Likewise, biodiesel is produced from sunflowers and oilseed rape and is much cleaner than diesel produced from oil. Plastic, mostly made from oil, is an artificial polymer and breaks down very slowly, however, this can be replaced by natural polymers derived from starch; e.g. cassava, which is clean, recyclable and nontoxic. A polymer derived from castor bean oil is used to develop a super-strong polymer blend by mixing it with the common household plastic polypropylene, and this could replace many of the plastics we use today. The polymer is a green material needing less energy to produce and thus emitting less carbon dioxide than oil-based plastics.
Livestock production systems contribute an estimated 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions . However, the main gas produced, methane, can be & is used to produce biogas to power; e.g. trains and buses and also electricity. For example, on the farm, through integrating an anaerobic digester into the livestock production system, the gas can be used to produce electricity for use on the actual farm and also to be sold into the grid.
The world trend is going to continue the move towards the reduction of the use of fossil fuels and the implementation of the sorts of examples given above. Subsidies already exist in some countries for farmers who reduce their use of fossil fuel based products and this will continue to expand worldwide. FGM International has extensive successful experience in the development and implementation of highly productive and profitable enterprises as described above. Contact FGM to discuss your opportunities.