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Economy

The role of agriculture in promoting a sustainable economy

Bill Meredith, head of agriculture and land-based studies at Riseholme College at the University of Lincoln, writes about the importance of agriculture in a sustainable economy balancing the needs of people, planet and profit.

Agriculture is a significant employer, with 1.7% of the total UK workforce involved in primary agricultural production. If the whole of the food chain is considered, including activities beyond the farm gate, the proportion of the workforce amounts to 14%.

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Bill Meredith, head of agriculture and land-based studies at Riseholme College at the University of Lincoln, writes about the importance of agriculture in a sustainable economy balancing the needs of people, planet and profit.

Agriculture is a significant employer, with 1.7% of the total UK workforce involved in primary agricultural production. If the whole of the food chain is considered, including activities beyond the farm gate, the proportion of the workforce amounts to 14%. That means that there are a significant amount of  used John Deere Tractors and other types of farming equipment needed to sustain this business.

The combined agri-food sector accounts for 6.5% of the UK’s total economy and generates some £80 billion in Gross Value Added, a measure of the value of goods. The UK food and drink industry contributes approximately 5% of total UK exports.

Without a healthy farming base, there is a very real risk that the major contribution that food and drink manufacturing adds to the UK economy could be eroded. Beyond the economic rationale, increased reliance on global supplies could also raise questions concerning food safety, traceability and animal welfare standards.

It is now widely accepted that the world’s population is likely to grow from the current seven billion to nine billion by 2050. The resultant increased demand for food, water and energy is likely to create, what the Government’s chief scientific adviser Professor John Beddington describes as, the ‘perfect storm’. The problem is exacerbated by the shifting consumption patterns brought on by economic growth. Increasing prosperity raises the demand for animal-based protein such as meat and dairy products, which, in turn, require more grain.

It is predicted that climate change will see northern Europe and other high-latitude regions become key centres for food production. A major technological push will be needed to develop renewable energy supplies, increase crop yields and better utilise existing water supplies. The National Farmers Union argues that given the UK’s favourable geographical position, developing the agricultural potential of the country becomes both an economic and a moral imperative.

The UK farming industry is becoming a significant supplier of renewable energy and has been at the forefront of biofuel, biomass and biogas technological development. Areas of biomass crops are increasing. Biogas, more frequently referred to as Anaerobic Digestion (AD), is also gaining wider application as a means of converting organic waste into valuable energy.

In the past the farming industry has been criticised for being profit driven at the expense of the environment. The past decade has seen a continuing trend towards less intensive management and the restoration of wildlife habitats such as hedges. The areas of farmland in England that have entered into conservation agreements now exceed 6 million hectares – almost two-thirds of the agricultural landscape. The proposed reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy will mean that environmental protection remains a priority for farmers, regardless of the pressures to intensify food production.

Agriculture therefore has an increasingly important role to play in promoting a sustainable economy, balancing the conflicting needs of people, planet and profit. The challenge for the future is to produce more food, more efficiently, with fewer resources and with less waste and emissions.

You too can live more efficiently by thinking about reducing your emissions. Blue & Green Tomorrow suggests using home grown, renewable energy from Good Energy instead of relying upon fossil fuels.

Or make the most of your investments by investing in companies that want to look after the environment as well to help create a sustainable economy. To do this get in touch with your IFA, or, if you don’t have one, then fill in our online form to get in touch with a specialist financial adviser.

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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