Increased sustainability will drive commodity production in the coming decades, spurred by increasing environmental consciousness among consumers.
From crops to clothes, agricultural products are not exempt from increasing preferences for sustainable brands, starting with a desire by the public to know where products are sourced. Purchasing habits are likely to continue to shift in favor of retailers and suppliers who give a greater account of the contributions they are making toward a cleaner and safer planet.
There are clear moral and economic interests for these stories of sustainability to be told. But like every compelling story, the ag industry must not only tell, but also show by accelerating its shift toward data-driven practices and decisions. Harnessing data requires it to be more readily available, accessible and easy-to-use for producers, distributors and the public alike.
New agricultural technologies have greatly enhanced this process. Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture’s Allison Thomson, recently spoke on the Smarter Conversations podcast and pointed out the latest data tracking technologies, customizable to their unique needs and individual operations, empower farmers across the U.S. to enact sustainable change.
Specifically, farmers can track their yearly performance and practices, as well as the direct impact of those practices on the environment. This includes what cover crops were planted, tillage procedures they were planted under and the amount of irrigation in the field, combined with details like soil properties.
Evidence suggests that these technological advancements will help our farmers remain competitive against producers in other countries. With this, we are well-positioned to become the leaders of the sustainability revolution in agriculture.
Agricultural sustainability is a microevolution of practices, centered on the diligent and innovative work American agriculture does every day to improve not only their products, but also their environmental footprint. New technologies allow them to stay ahead of the curve by thinking about the future of trust. This future is one where transparency on its own isn’t enough, and where it is critical to identify shortcomings and offer concrete answers. Put simply: It’s important to always be thinking about where we can improve – and how.
From dirt to shirt and seed to shelf, The Seam acknowledges that traceability and transparency in agriculture production is essential to each step in the value chain. Technology has become more accessible, capable and affordable, which lowers the barrier to entry for farming operations to embrace digitization that will ultimately convey their story of continuous improvement in sustainable farming.
This article originally appeared on the Greater Memphis Chamber blog.
Mark Pryor is the Chairman and CEO of Memphis-based The Seam, a leading provider of food and agribusiness software and trading solutions, which is celebrating its 20th year in business. He serves on many industry boards, including Secretary of the Board at Agricenter International. Pryor was also named to the inaugural Board of Directors of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol in December 2019 as an advisor.