Report Synopsis

The Circular Economy, Biocycles within Agriculture. Closed loop farming using waste streams

Steve Grist

The United Nations (UN) (2017) is forecasting a total of ten billion people on this planet by 2050, with a requirement of 55% more food. Large challenges lie ahead for food production including water scarcity, land degradation, higher input costs and climate change. The waste generated from agriculture and food production is difficult to quantify, but the figures are around one trillion tonnes per annum, and contribute to 13% of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (World Resources Institute, 2014).

This report explores the concepts, applications and solutions of the circular economy and closed looped agriculture systems on a sub five-hectare farm basis. Separating waste, repurposing it and recycling it are not new concepts, and more recently the waste is being identified as a resource rather than a costly problem, and environmental polluter. This report highlights solutions which can be integrated into current farming systems with relatively little technical know-how and infrastructure. By turning organic waste into a source of added value, farms can essentially move towards a triple bottom line in operations and build in more resilience when facing an uncertain future.

Although circular economic fundamentals remain in their infancy, they are just a macrobased system of the micro/small scale subsistence farming that has taken place for centuries. With careful future urban planning, emerging technology and global governmental commitment, agriculture can be remodelled to be regenerative by design and bring on a second green revolution.

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