How sustainable farming is changing the face of the agricultural industry and what you need to know to get on board.

With the events of COP26 still fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s unsurprising that a focus on sustainability remains at the forefront of agricultural practices.

Many family farms and small agricultural businesses are looking for ways to increase sustainability and compete with overseas ranches and corporations.

For businesses new to the world of sustainable farming, it’s worth getting to grips with some of the eco-friendly operational changes that can be made, and consulting any relevant specialists within the industry to help ease your transition.

When making these adaptations, you may need to factor in the cost of any land, equipment or supplies. Working with a currency specialist like Clear Currency can help you save money, navigate the process smoothly, and ensure there are no disruptions to your supply chain.

Below, Clear Currency outlines some of the sustainable farming methods available, and the benefits they can offer to help your business move towards a brighter and greener future.

1. Crop rotation

Crop rotation involves growing different varieties of crops on the same piece of land each year, which helps to replenish the soil’s nutrients, prevents pest infestations and reduces the need for weed maintenance. This technique also allows farmers to use fewer pesticides and chemicals, and improve the land’s fertility to increase crop yields; all while reducing any adverse impact on the environment (

To prepare the fields for the annual switchover, specialist farming machinery is required. Despite the initial costs, investing in high-spec equipment can improve your company’s long-term efficiency and profitability.

Purchasing machinery from overseas can help you save money. China, Italy and Germany are among the most popular countries for UK businesses to source farming equipment, thanks to their more affordable rates. However, making cost-effective overseas transactions can be tricky, especially if you’re new to international markets.

Eastern Daily Press: Widening the range of crops you grow can make it easier to adopt sustainable practices, protect farmland and improve yields.Widening the range of crops you grow can make it easier to adopt sustainable practices, protect farmland and improve yields. (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Brexit and Covid-19 have slowed the global market, blocked supply chains and impacted shipping costs – all of which could see you spend more on equipment than you had intended. With exchange rates continually changing, working with an international payments specialist can help to minimise your exposure to currency risk.

Using an FX tool like a forward contract lets you lock in a favourable exchange rate for up to 12 months. Clear Currency’s account managers can offer guidance on how to utilise a forward contract and provide guidance on risk mitigation strategies to protect your bottom line.

2. Crop diversification

Crop diversification involves adding different varieties of crops, trees and plants to farmland, which can offer both environmental and financial benefits for small agricultural businesses.

Agroforestry, for example, is a combination of agricultural and forestry practices, designed to help diversify regional wildlife, increase biodiversity and prevent desertification (degradation) in soil. For example, this can be achieved by planting hedgerows and trees on crop fields to provide more shade so that the land doesn’t dry out. Agroforestry also helps to remove harmful carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere (Friends of the Earth).

UK farmers could also consider growing protein types such as soya to meet the increasing demand for plant-based and vegan products. Presently, three crops dominate arable production in the UK. Wheat and barley each account for 32 per cent of the UK’s total arable crop area, while oilseed rape accounts for 9 per cent (Innovate UK KTN).

Diversifying crops can make it easier for farmers to implement other sustainable strategies such as crop rotation, while helping to protect farmland and improve yields. It can also present new networking and consumer opportunities for small agricultural organisations, and allow them to compete against larger corporations.

To make the most of these opportunities, having a global payments solution is essential. Sourcing supplies or manufacturing abroad can help to lower expenditure and boost profit margins. Using Clear Currency’s online payment platform allows you to check live currency rates 24/7, track every payment you make and receive, and complete same-day transfers with no additional fees.

Eastern Daily Press: Smart farming technology can track data such as weather, humidity, soil quality and asset location to increase efficiency.Smart farming technology can track data such as weather, humidity, soil quality and asset location to increase efficiency. (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

3. Use of smart technology and data

Smart farming technology, such as real-time data sensors, the Internet of Things (IoT) devices and agricultural drones, can revolutionise the way your business operates. This technology can track data such as weather, humidity, soil quality and asset location (GPS trackers that can track the location and movement of your machinery) to help you make better business decisions (

Introducing AI to daily work routines can help farmers cope with current labour shortages caused by the pandemic, minimise environmental constraints, reduce waste and lower production costs. The use of AI also allows companies to achieve greater product quality and yields. Automating irrigation, fertilisation and pest control can reduce the number of chemicals used, and the damage caused to surrounding land.

4. Investing in renewable schemes

Green technologies and renewable energy sources will also play a fundamental part in helping to ensure companies reach government climate aims and avoid fines from the Environment Agency.

Eastern Daily Press: Farmers may be entitled to government subsidiaries, such as The Sustainable Farming Incentive, if adopting more sustainable practices.Farmers may be entitled to government subsidiaries, such as The Sustainable Farming Incentive, if adopting more sustainable practices. (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is one of the government’s new environmental land management schemes, that will deliver payments to farmers as a reward for them helping to enhance the natural health of UK soils and contribute to efforts to reach net zero (

Those working within the agriculture, energy and technology sectors may benefit from an overseas land purchase to help them achieve these goals. Buying land or property abroad can offer better value for money when extending your business and workforce overseas, and provide the much-needed resources required to develop sustainable projects.

However, it’s not only the UK that has experienced rising inflation costs and an economic downturn in the last three years. Therefore, it’s essential for business owners to be aware of the current financial state of the markets they’re interested in buying land in.

Clear Currency can offer bank-beating exchange rates to help you save money on your international payments. As land sales can take years to complete, it’s vital to look ahead and understand what factors could impact your bottom line. By getting to know the intricate details of your business, their currency specialists can provide expert FX insights to help you make more effective decisions about the future of your business.

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