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5 Things You Need to Start A Hazard Communication Program

Imagine you are the safety officer of your chemical company, and one of the operators told you this question: “We work with chemicals. How do you know the company is safe and the chemicals won’t make us sick?” If you know your job intimately and you’re passionate about safety, you can readily answer the question.

The truth is you don’t have to be a safety officer or a supervisor to provide the right answer. Anyone working in hazardous waste disposal, any chemical plant or other manufacturing facility are expected to possess the minimum knowledge of the hazards at his workplace.
But if an employee does not know these hazards, how can he know them? This is where a hazard communication program enters the scene.

Hazard communication covers lots of grounds. It’s talking about all the physical, chemical and health hazards in the workplace. Some questions that must be addressed are: What are the hazards? How can an employee protect himself? What should an employee do in case of accident or injury?
So if there is no such program at your company and you want to set one, here are five basic things you need to have. 
(1). A written hazard communication programImage Source:

Many companies use ISO 9000 and related standards for documenting work processes. At its core, this standard says “Write what you do, do what you write.” Work processes are written down, and the documented processes are then followed. Having steps written down ensures consistency on how employees do their work.  
The premise applies to a hazard program too. Having the program in written form erases ambiguities and misinterpretations. Some of the things that must be documented are:
  • The specific hazards in every area of the facility;
  • Location of MSDS (material data sheets) and other hazard information;
  • Training on the hazards in the workplace; and
  • A comprehensive list of chemicals (and their quantities) in each working area.

The documented program and procedures, along with the files of MSDS (more on this in the next section) and the chemical list must be readily accessible to every employee.  
(2). Material Safety Data Sheets Image Source:

A chemical’s material safety data sheet, or MSDS, must be both available and used.
Safety data sheets are useless if none (but the boss) can only access them, so every employee must be aware of the nearest location of the MSDS files. It’s good practice that several copies are distributed across the facility—like one folder in the laboratory, another in the control room, and a third one in the warehouse.
It is also equally important that employees know how to use them. It makes no sense to have the complete sheets if employees are not trained to use them. (We’ll tackle training a bit later.)
The MSDS contains valuable information. Included are the chemical’s name and nature (“Is it flammable or neutral?”), storage conditions (“Is it okay to store it outdoors?”), protection requirements (“Do you need a mask or a full-body chemical suit?”) and first-aid measures (“What to do if you got skin contact?”).
For this reason, every chemical handled in your facility must have a corresponding MSDS. Also, ensure that MSDS files are up-to-date. For instance, the acid you’re using now may be different in strength to the one used last year, so the current MSDS must be relevant to that specific chemical form.

While these data sheets are valuable, it’s better not to rely on them alone. Remember the documented work processes from the previous section? These documents must also contain some of the essential information from the MSDS to be readily used by the employee.
Information on personal protective gears and cautions are helpful if they are included already in the procedures.

(3). Labeling system
On a quick glance, signs and labels provide immediate information on the chemical in front of you. For instance, when seeing a fire symbol on a drum, in your mind, you are already alerted that it contains flammable content and must not be brought near sources of heat.
A good label must carry the chemical’s name as its proper ID. This must be consistent with the chemical’s name in its MSDS. It could cause confusion and uncertainty if the content of that drum is labeled as “dizzying liquid” while the MSDS says “ammonia”. Also, do not label a container as “acid” when there are lots of acid types in your inventory. 

Furthermore, put an immediate warning about the physical or health hazards if necessary. Indicate “do not inhale” if the chemical can cause instant dizziness or other illnesses. 
(4). Hazard rating
Some chemical labels have hazard ratings, particularly if the NFPA (National Fire Protection Rating) system is applied. This scheme is simple to use and comes in the form of a diamond symbol. The sign is divided into four sections: blue for health, red for flammability, yellow for reactivity, and white for a special category.

These four categories are rated independently from 1 to 4. In the case of red section, 1 is given for a material that does not burn (like water) while 4 is for materials that readily burn (like propane gas).
The NFPA system is not the only one used in the industry. Depending on what suits your company’s needs, you can use other schemes like HMIS, GHS or NPCA. 
(5). Training
Employees need to undergo training to gain awareness and knowledge on the hazards and protective measures BEFORE they handle the chemical. They must also be adept at knowing how to interpret and use the MSDS. Now and then, refresher training has to be conducted to ensure knowledge retention.
Contractors and visitors of the facility must also undergo briefing if they too are entering the facility or will be handling chemicals. If they’re bringing their own chemicals, they must have the safety data sheets with them.

These five is a good start if you’re initially setting up hazard communication in your workplace. You can add other elements, depending on the complexity and scale of your chemical handling done in your facility. What’s essential is that each employee must know how to handle chemicals they are working with and where to find the information if they need it.


Writen By Walter H. Singer, for Environmentgo.

How to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

With each passing season, resource depletion and global warming becomes more terrifyingly real.  Our planet’s future depends on the changes that we humans make – which is why it’s vital that we evaluate the eco-friendliness of our houses.

In recent years, environmental researchers have proven that domestic carbon emissions and energy wastage as significant contributors to the eco-crisis. If you want to halt the rate of climate change at its source, then these are the easy changes you can make to your home which will reduce your household’s environmental footprint.

  1. Go solar
We’ve all heard about solar homes – but did you know that solar panels are becoming an ever more economical and accessible design choice in the current home-building market? 
Previously, only the wealthiest homeowners could afford to install these shiny black panels atop their roofs – while as of 2018, you’ll be able to choose the panelling that suits your home’s needs, and most importantly, your budget.

Solar panels draw energy from natural sunlight and convert it into power. Depending on how many solar panels you have and how large they are, you may be able to power your entire home without depending on manmade electricity.

2.                   Install eco-friendly fittings
Being environmentally conscious doesn’t just mean large-scale alterations to the home; making seemingly-microlevel changes can have just as much impact. For instance, switching your current tap fittings out for motion-sensor models will allow you to save a massive amount of water in the long-term by shutting off water flow whenever your hands aren’t near. Motion-sensor taps are safe and convenient for the very old and very young, too.

two brown spray bottles on brown table
Image Source: Unsplash

3.                   Stock your home with eco-friendly accessories and materials
Another micro-level change that guarantees a significant impact is ensuring that your house is fully furnished with products that align with your larger eco-friendly ethos.
After all, your solar panelling won’t match with supermarket-bought plastic bags that take hundreds of years to degrade.

It’s easy to make the transition to reusable cloth bags to carry your groceries, or to look for gentler, more eco-friendly cleaning products to use for your dishes and laundry. The best news is that these eco-friendly resources are becoming increasingly popular, meaning that you’ll get to choose from many different options for outfitting your eco-friendly house.

4.                   Greenify your home
You can also fill your home with literal green products – houseplants.
Decorating your home with potted plants or installing a green wall add a lovely aesthetic touch.
In addition to this, leafy plants have also been proven to absorb the kinds of nasty chemical compounds which would otherwise wheedle their way into our lungs.

white rod pocket curtain on window frame
Image Source: Unsplash

5.                   Insulate for heat retention
An excellent way to ensure your family’s efficient energy use is to correctly insulate your home.

Heat can quickly escape out of draughty floorboards and window panes, so stopping all gaps and stuffing your walls and attic spaces with batting will help to keep heat inside.

Also, remember to check your window frames – double-glazed wooden frames are a far superior option to synthetic frames when it comes to retaining heat, and a set of thick drapes or curtains will further aid your energy-saving mission during colder months.

6.                   Upgrade your appliances
Upgrading your appliances from energy-hungry, old-fashioned models to sleek, energy-efficient ones is a straightforward, satisfying means of reducing wastage in the home. From smaller kitchen appliances like electric kettles to larger household items like boilers and fireplaces, always look for the sustainable energy-star rating or an equivalent score.

Article Submitted By Cleo
Dunedine, New Zealand.
For EnvironmentGo!

Cloe believes that sustainable and eco-friendly practices can easily start in our own homes. Her journey began humbly with the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) - and she is now working towards her goal to live a zero-waste lifestyle. To see more of Cloe’s published work, visit her Tumblr page.

5 Ways to Have an Eco-Friendly Business

As our planet's landfills continue to overflow, and the environment continues to suffer under the stress of our lifestyles, businaesses all across the world are looking to create and lead positive change by running a green business.

In addition to the environmental benefits, becoming a “green” company can also have an incredibly positive long-term impact on the reputation and profitability of your business.

And who doesn't want to grow their business while also saving the planet?

Eco-friendly business

Here are five ways to have an eco-friendly business. 

1. Use solar/renewable energy
Depending on the type of business you run and where you are located, you may be able to update your office to using solar or renewable energy. Not only will this increase your office sustainability, but it will also make money as a long-term investment. Both large companies and smaller businesses are using solar and renewable energy to assist in helping the climate crisis.

In 2018, you have various options for alternative energy sources to power your office, such as wind and solar power, hydropower and geothermal.

While installing solar panels can require serious investment, over a long period it will be an advantage for your business. Undoubtedly, solar/renewable energy is the future, and if your organization chooses to incorporate green energy now, it will make it far easier to continue to include developments in the renewable energy market.

2. Start a waste management program
One of the simplest and quickest ways to make your business more eco-friendly is to implement a waste management program. First, understand where your waste is generated and how often and where it ends up. From here, see how you can develop waste prevention strategies.

Always be educating and engaging with employees to develop your waste management program. Make sure they understand that a lot of "trash" can actually be recycled or reused as valuable resources. Rethink the kind of packaging used by your company at all stages, and find eco-friendly alternatives or techniques for cutting back.

Next, implement a waste recycling program within your store or office. Start by making sure everyone in the business knows what can and can't be recycled and composted. Provide staff with reusable water bottles and coffee mugs, and make it a company-wide mission to reduce, reuse and recycle.

3. Recycle electronics
There is a good chance that your company and your company's employees use a considerable amount of electronics. But did you know that ensuring your excess electronic equipment stays out of the local landfill is an excellent way to help sustain the planet? (Just remember to erase any personal information first!)

There are a few options when it comes to recycling your firm's electronics. First of all, if they are under five years old and still working, then you can donate them to local schools, charities or shelters.

Alternatively, various manufacturers (such as Dell and HP) and electronic retailers have technology recycling programs that allow credit for trade-ins on used equipment, and donation programs for charities.

4. Utilize technologies that minimize the environmental impact
From prefabricated metal buildings to inflatable packers for grouting to green web hosting, eco-friendly envelopes, and natural cleaning products, there are so many new technologies that can minimize the environmental impact of your firm, and its projects or products on the environment.

Spend some time researching which ones work for your industry and create a strategy for implementing them into your company's practices and processes.

5. Engage with other businesses and your community
Not only will engaging with other business and your community on green-related activities help sustain the environment, but it also is likely to introduce your firm to new potential clients or customers (win-win scenario!).

With your team, brainstorm events or activities that you can organize — for example, advocating for local protection programs which involve water remediation or bioremediation, educating the community on recycling practices, or manufacturing products that are entirely eco-friendly.

Ensure that all members of your firm are involved to show the community that you really care about the wellbeing of the environment.

In fact, making your business more eco-friendly can be more accessible than is commonly believed. Start with small changes as, over time, these can have a massive impact and, once you’ve started, you will want to continue reforming your workplace.

 Dave Baca is the General Manager at Aardvark Packers LLC, overseeing day-to-day operations as well as sales, marketing, purchasing and work order manipulation. He received his machinist degree in 1989 and excels at design on AutoCAD, transforming designs into the packer systems requested by clients.


The most important things about biodynamic farming

 Agriculture has always and will always be an important part of every society. But farming won’t be possible when natural resources are being abused to only meet today’s demands. Sustainable, organic and natural farming have all changed the name of the game in terms of agriculture. Where the appreciation for the products being farmed is a priority and the future is being considered.

And now we have biodynamic farming. Another revolutionary approach to agriculture that is gaining preference and popularity. We’ll be looking at biodynamic farming and the most important things about it that every farmer and person should know.

Biodynamic Farming 
What is biodynamic farming?

Biodynamic farming, or biodynamic agriculture, is similar to organic farming with a few differences. It is a form of agriculture that recognises ecology to have a spirit in nature, making it a holistic, ecological and ethical farming, gardening, food and nutrition practice.

The origin of biodynamic agriculture is based on Dr Rudolf Steiner’s approach to organic farming in 1924 and has since been adapted. Biodynamic farms are seen as a whole organism with a variety of elements that make it up. This would be referring to the farmers, plants, animals, soil and so on. The work that happens on the farm is an attempt to bring and maintain harmony across these elements as a means of supporting the whole organism.

Biodynamic farms work by adapting to the natural landscape, climate and culture. Through that, they promote biodiversity and encourage natural ecosystems. So, where organic farms would either grow crops or raise livestock, biodynamic farms bring the two together. They also strive to use seedlings and bring livestock into the farm from within their farming system so as not to rely on out-sourced products. This means that in order to be certified as a biodynamic farm, the whole living organism is required to be self-sustaining.

They also make use of biodynamic calendars that look to the earth, sun, stars, moon and cosmos to make their farming decisions regarding when to sow, transplant, cultivate and harvest.

What are the advantages of biodynamic farming?

The main advantages of biodynamic farming are that it’s sustainable, natural, nutritious and combats climate change.

  • Sustainable: Not only is a biodynamic farm literally self-sustaining in that it’s responsible for bringing new life onto the farm in order to meet demands, but it also promotes sustainability in its farming practices. It is all about thinking and acting with the future in mind and protecting the limited natural resources that are available.
  • Natural: Being all-natural is an advantage because it means quality and healthy produce. It means there are no harmful chemicals or questionable farming practices that would lead to disease (in consumers or the farm’s plants and livestock). Natural farming methods also lead to more nutritious and tasty food for consumers.
  • Combatants of climate change: Biodynamic farms, because of the humus in their soil, are able to store more carbon in their soil than what other conventional farms can. This means that there is less carbon being released into the air. Biodynamic farms are doing more to add less to the effects of climate change by simply respecting the environments and maintaining their organism.  

What are the disadvantages of biodynamic farming?

A few disadvantages associated with biodynamic and even organic farming don’t have a negative environmental impact but, ultimately, its effects reside in the consumer’s experience. The disadvantages include more time and effort to care for the farm, having smaller yields at harvesting and having to charge more because of those facts.

  • More time and effort: Biodynamic farms require more personal care, time and effort from the farmer’s side. There is more work to be done through a sustainable method and relationships between elements that need to be monitored and maintained than one would find at an industrial farm. But the people who work on biodynamic farms enjoy the work they do, which is a result of that holistic and spiritual approach to farming. So, in their eyes, it’s not a disadvantage.
  • Smaller yields: Because there is more time and effort that goes into biodynamic farming, there are generally smaller yields. It’s also because their farming philosophy requires them to respect and work with the environment. Mass production doesn’t fit with the biodynamic principles.
  • Pay a higher price: As a result of smaller yields and more hands needed to staff the farm, consumers have to pay a higher price for the produce that is then sold from these farms.

Biodynamic farming practices

Any farm can adopt biodynamic farming practices and work towards being a certified biodynamic farm. A few of these sustainable and holistic practices include crop rotation, planting cover crops, introducing organic matter to the soil, recycling and using natural pest protection.

The most important thing about biodynamic farming is to respect the environment and be self-sustainable for future generations.


The process of recycling effluent water and should we drink it?

Many countries around the world are facing a water crisis. For example, The Western Cape in South Africa is currently working through their worst drought in over a century. So when it comes to saving water, recycling water or finding a way to keep up with the water demands of societies and industries, it can be quite a tough job.

But there are a variety of water processes that come to aid in the time of crisis. A popular (and expensive) one we’ve all heard of is desalination, but we will be talking about another potable water process. And that is the recycling of effluent water and distributing it back to the city as clean and usable water. Before we discuss the process, let’s define what effluent water is exactly.

Effluent water is an umbrella term for wastewater or sewage that is excreted from a source (usually as a result of an industrial, commercial or household activity) into the ocean or a river. Basically, it’s not anything you want to be drinking before any treatment processes.

The water recycling process

There are different methods of treating effluent water. And we’ll be exploring some of those stages of the water recycling process which water treatment specialists like PROXA Water, for example, are to follow.  

  • The screening process: The treatment starts with a screening process where the effluent water is filtered in order to remove large foreign objects from the body of water. Depending on the source of the effluent, this could include things such as plastic items, sanitary items, cotton buds, material, stones and sand.   
  • Primary treatment: With the obvious elements removed from the water, it goes into the primary treatment phase where the human waste element can be removed from it. This happens within a settlement tank that allows solids or sludge to sink to the bottom of the tank. This sludge is then frequently scraped off the bottom of the tank and pumped for further anaerobic treatment while the rest of the water is sent for secondary treatment.
  • Secondary treatment: To treat the remaining contaminants in the water, secondary treatment makes use of aeration where bacterial microorganisms digest what’s left of the organic matter. After secondary treatment, the water is deemed clean enough to be pumped back into the rivers.
  • Tertiary treatment: In some cases, there will be a tertiary treatment or disinfection process after secondary treatment. This stage can include another settlement tank, passing through a sand filter and possibly a denitrification or dechlorination process.

The entire water recycling and treatment process ensures that any harmful contaminants are completely removed from the water source to secure it as clean water that can be released for public use again. And if it doesn’t go back into the municipal water system, it can be reused in the environment to maintain habitats or back into the commercial or agricultural sectors.

And in the season of a drought, countries cannot undervalue the aid that recycled water brings during a water crisis. Recycling water is a great way to appreciate and make the most of the limited resource. It’s arguably a process that should be in constant production and not only in the time of a water crisis. It’s a process that creates clean and potable water from the type of water that has the potential to kill those who drink it. Which leads us to the question of should we then drink recycled water based on its pre-treated source?

Should we drink it?  

There is a good chance that you have, at some point in your life, consumed recycled water. And because it’s a process which many societies rely on in order to exercise their basic right to clean water, it must be safe to drink. Here are a few reasons why recycled water is safe option.

  • Namibia has been recycling effluent water into drinking water for over 50 years and has relied on this water supply to get through some of their toughest droughts. There has never been a problem with the recycled water.
  • It doesn’t taste any different to “normal” municipal water and, in some cases, is regarded as cleaner than municipal water. It will never not be safe to drink because of the safety regulations that are required before redistribution.
  • It allows the town, city and country that adopt this practice to add to the sustainability of the earth’s limited water resource. Reusing recycled effluent water is, therefore, an environmentally friendly practice.
  • It’s cheaper than other water sources but not because of quality standards. We've already established that recycled water is considered cleaner and sometimes tastier than municipal water.  

People need to get over the stigma around effluent water and start taking advantage of the safe, drinkable and completely-good-for-you water.


Innovative ways to improve your farm’s income

Being a farmer comes with its own set of perks, such as having access to fresh fruit and vegetables from your crops or organic meat from your livestock. However, it can be tricky to maintain your income during hard times. Applying for plant and machinery finance when you have a tight budget is difficult and stressful, so if you are looking for innovative ways to improve your farm’s income here are some top tips.

Transform some land into the perfect wedding venue
Weddings are big business, as any wedding planner will tell you, and one of the most important aspects of any wedding is the venue. In today’s fast-paced modern world, more and more brides are choosing to have weddings at peaceful, tranquil venues. What could be better than a rustic, elegant farm for the perfect wedding venue?

It might seem like a lot of work, but if you have help and a little guidance from a wedding planner on what brides look for in a wedding venue, you can create a spectacular space for weddings to be held. You can create packages for brides on a budget, or even host conferences and team-building events during times when there are no bookings for venues.

Go glamorous with glamping sites
If you have large enough land, you can set up ‘glamping’ sites for people to enjoy on weekends or during holidays. ‘Glamping’, put simply, is glamorous camping, and involves setting up ‘tents’ with flooring, electricity points or wood burning stoves and comfortable beds.

Glamping is camping for people who do not enjoy roughing it outdoors but still want to experience nature. This makes it the perfect venture for a farm that has stunning surrounds or a lot of land available for guests to explore and glamp in. You will need to get planning consent from your municipality, and you will need to set up the glamping site in an area that is relatively flat and far from your crops and livestock.

Supply food artisans
If you farm vegetables, crops or farm livestock then a lucrative way to make money is to supply artisanal kitchens with your produce. Unlike bigger kitchens which will simply create commercial dishes, a food artisan will use your food to create unique taste experiences for select diners, showcasing the true taste of your produce.

Food artisans who create jams, chutneys and sauces might also be happy with slightly damaged or less-than-perfect options, which can save you from having to get rid of fruits and vegetables that do not meet your standards. If you have certain items in abundance, the chances are that you will find an artisanal chef who is interested in using this product as part of their new menu, and it could mean that you have a return customer during this product’s peak season.

Sell farm by-products
All farmers will, at some point, need equipment finance for their farm, and one easy way to raise the funds for this is to sell the farm by-products that you have on your land. This could be anything from manure from cows and horses to feathers collected from ducks and chickens.

Manure is the perfect product to market to nurseries and garden stores, and feathers can be used in bedding and clothing. You could also sell excess compost that is unused or even sell worm castings or ‘worm wee’, if you have an active worm farm. ‘Worm wee’ is one of the most valuable liquids used in organic gardening today and can provide a steady income when you are not harvesting and selling crops to markets or stores.

Swap knowledge for money
Farm income does not always have to come from selling products, you can use your knowledge as a farmer to make money too. You can host workshops for people who are studying towards an agricultural degree or give talks to schools on the processes that happen on your farm during everyday life.

You do not have to be an expert in the field, but you do have to be entertaining, informed and passionate about your topic. Hosting the event on your farm will further increase your income, as you can set up a conference area and provide food made from the produce of your farm. You could offer schools and universities the option to have regular talks on your farm for students who are interested in agricultural topics.

Be creative
Creativity is one of the most important things to have when thinking of ways to boost your farm’s income. You could provide a stunning wedding, conference or event venue to bring in more customers or offer ‘glamping’ sites to those who enjoy the outdoors without wanting to rough it. If you have by-products you may not be using, you can offer these to nurseries or other industries who use them. The possibilities are endless if you have a little creative spark and the ability to persevere.


The benefits of biodynamic farming for small farms

Eco-friendly farming methods have seen a boom in popularity over the years for both small and large farms, with smaller farms preferring these methods over more conventional ones.

These methods include no-till and biodynamic farming, with biodynamic meaning being very similar to natural farming but including esoteric and spiritual aspects. It is a highly eco-friendly way of farming, but for small farms, there are other unique benefits, as outlined below.

Natural disease and pest control
One of the major benefits of biodynamic farming is that you will eliminate the need to use chemicals for disease and pest control. You will be able to eliminate both weeds and harmful insects naturally, by planting plants that are natural enemies of insect pests. This is known as biological control agents

Using crop rotation is another popular method against crop disease, as it prevents the pests from becoming used to the type of plant that is being cultivated, as well as promotes balanced, healthy soil to protect against pests. By using natural disease and pest control, you will also decrease the amount of chemicals there are in the run-off of your crop fields, reducing the chance of contamination of the soil for your future crops.

It builds healthy soil
One of the most important aspects of farming, whether you are on a small farm or a large commercial farm, is the health of the soil. With conventional farming methods, chemicals are used to fertilise the soil but with biodynamic agriculture, mulch and compost are used instead.

This leads to healthier soil, which also leads to a healthier farm and crops. Natural cultivation practices are essential to creating healthy soil, and these methods include no-till farming. Earthworms are used to provide oxygen to your soil and compost and mulch is used as fertilisers. This will encourage the growth of good, healthy bacteria in the soil, which is vital for creating soil that can thrive on its own and crops that are healthier to eat.

The input costs are lower
As a small farm owner, you know how expensive it can be to have to run equipment on a daily basis for tilling, ploughing and spraying chemicals. However, with biodynamic farming, you do not have to spray chemicals or use machinery to till your land.

This helps you save a huge amount  of your input costs, which you can put towards other more important ventures on your farm, such as farming livestock or introducing new crops to your rotation. Biodynamic agriculture allows you to eliminate the expensive costs of fertiliser and equipment, which is especially useful for small farm owners with a tight budget who cannot afford to maintain expensive equipment.

Your crops become more drought resistant
One major benefit of using organic and biodynamic farming methods is that the goal is to plant crops that are suited to your climate. This means that your crops will become more drought resistant, which is ideal for more arid areas and can also reduce crop damage from unsuitable weather.

Drought resistant crops are popular among biodynamic farmers because it allows the farmers to use drip irrigation methods as well as timed irrigation methods. Having crops that do not need to be watered as much will not only save water but will also allow you to save on irrigation equipment costs. Planting crops that are suited to your climate is one of the major tenets of biodynamic farming, making it highly desirable in drier climates, such as the Karoo and other Northern Cape areas.

It combats soil erosion
Soil erosion is an issue that many farms face, especially smaller farms that might have less space for surface-water runoff and for root growth. By using biodynamic methods like no-till farming, you are actively preventing soil erosion from happening.

Organic farming creates healthy topsoil. This  prevents runoff from the crops causing erosion and it helps to maintain soil moisture and alleviate compacted soil, which is one of the contributing factors of soil erosion. Soil erosion is a serious blight for many farms, which is why you should look into adopting biodynamic agriculture or at least organic farming practices which can help to improve your soil health and reduce erosion.

It supports animal welfare
As a small farm owner, you most likely have an abundance of animal and insect life on your farm. This can include anything from the fish in the ponds on your land to the livestock you farm. Biodynamic methods encourage and support animal welfare by causing less harm to the environment.

Organic farming methods encourage you to use natural pest and disease repelling methods, such as inviting in insects that are predators to pests or using ducks to eat snails off of wine grapes. Animals that live on organic farms are exposed to clean, chemical-free grazing that helps them naturally healthy and resistant to illnesses associated with conventional farming methods. Supporting animal welfare is beneficial to both the environment and to your farm’s health.


What is conservation tillage and is it right for you?

Conservation in the agricultural industry is at an all-time high in recent years, with significant efforts being made to limit the impact of farming on the environment. These efforts include embracing organic farming and biodynamic farming, and implementing tillage practices such as conservation farming which is also known as ‘no-till’ farming.

If you want to look into a more environmentally friendly way of farming, outlined below is an explanation of conservation tillage and its advantages and disadvantages.

What is conservation tillage?
The creation of cultivated land includes tillage, which is a staple of the agricultural industry. Conservation tillage or ‘no-till farming’ is a method of soil cultivation which leaves the residue of last year’s crops (such as corn stalks or wheat husks) on the fields before, during and after the planting of the upcoming year’s crops. It is a popular method for  farmers who want to embrace a more natural approach to the industry.

This form of tillage is especially useful for regions that are prone to soil erosion. In some areas where this problem is rampant, it has become more common than other forms of tillage on arable land. Conservation tillage methods include no-till, strip-till, ridge-till and mulch-till.

  • No-till farming is the method of leaving mulch or crop residue on the surface of the soil before, during and after the planting period. Soil disturbance is kept to a minimum and many farmers combiner no-till farming with a more organic approach, such as natural herbicides and fertilisers.
  • Ridge-till farming is a method which involves scalping and planting on ridges built during cultivation of last year’s crops. It does involve the use of a herbicide or fertiliser but farmers often opt for an organic option. Most of the weeds and fertiliser are moved into the middle of the row, with clean and smooth surface areas for plants to take root on.
  • Mulch-till farming is a method similar to no-till farming in that the residue of previous crops is  left on the surface of the soil before, during and after the planting process. One difference is that a maximum amount of mulch is left on the surface in order to maintain maximum moisture and regulate the temperature of the soil for good crop wields.
The pros and cons of conservation tillage
Now that you know what conservation tillage is, you can decide whether or not it is right for you. Before you make any decisions about changing your farming methods, you will need to take into account what your own farming needs are. Outlined below are the advantages of conservation tillage.

  • Soil erosion is reduced: One of the major benefits of using conservation tillage, such as no-till farming, on your land, is that soil erosion is reduced. Soil erosion is a major issue faced by farmers and conservation tillage helps to maintain the structure of the soil by using little to no tilling techniques.
  • Water conservation: Because conservation tillage methods leave residue on the soil rather than removing it, the evaporation of soil moisture is decreased and the soil is able to absorb more water. This helps farmers in keeping the amount of water used to water crops relatively low. The amount of irrigation water and rainwater infiltration is also increased.
  • Beneficial insects and soil microbes increase: As the soil fertility increases, so does the health of the overall soil ecology. With reduced disturbance, there is usually an increase in beneficial insects and soil microbes. This helps to support the base of a healthy environment for a wide array of wildlife, as well as the necessary nutrients in the soil.
  • Reduced fuel and equipment costs: Farmers who practice no-till or conservation tillage farming do not have to use their equipment as often, which means that they save on fuel costs and equipment repair expenses. The farming equipment also tends to last longer as it is not used on a daily basis.
  • May not suit every soil type: Conservation tillage may not be successful in certain types of soil, and so you should do research into whether or not your type of soil and climate is conducive to this farming method. You may find that it is ideal for your soil and area, but if it is not then you should consider other organic farming methods.
  • Fungal disease possibilities: Because the crop residues are not fully incorporated into the soil, there is a risk of fungal disease being contracted by crops. The most common solution to this is to rotate crops that are not susceptible to the same diseases. However, this can be difficult for farmers who prefer practising monoculture.
Once you have weighed out the advantages and disadvantages of conservation tillage, you can decide whether it is right for your farm. For those who want to adopt a more eco-friendly way of farming, it is the ideal solution to conventional tillage which can damage the soil and cause a myriad of other environmental concerns.

Proper Land Cultivation is Environmetal Friendly

What qualifies as cultivated land

In farming, there are certain things that are absolutely necessary in order to run and maintain a successful business. And having an area of land is rather important when wanting to start a farm. Then again, it’s not always as simple as just having a large plot of any old land. Is it?

What’s the deal with cultivated land? And what exactly qualifies as cultivated? Here’s all you need to know.

Cultivated land -EnvironmetGo!

The definition of cultivated land

So, according to the dictionary, cultivated land is farmland suited to growing of crops through plough and sow methods. So, basically, if you plan on starting a crop farm, you're going to need cultivated land in order to do so.

Cultivated land is, therefore, important in farming as it is the way in which the land can be suitable for the growth of crops. Without it, farming efforts would be for nothing and crop farmers would not be able to keep up with the rising demand. But cultivated land isn’t always something you can just find. There are certain activities that need to be carried out in order to cultivate land.

How to achieve cultivated land

As cultivated land is a necessity in farming, you’re going to need to know what must be done before you can even think about what type of crop you want to grow. The process of cultivating your land can take up to two years to get it where it needs to be for successful yields, so you better start now. It’s time to prepare your land, even if it’s been deemed as non-agricultural land. So, here’s what you need to do:

  • Clear it out: You start by clearing out the land. Weeds are crop killers and if you start farming on land with weeds in the ground, you’re setting yourself up for failure. This is also your opportunity to remove unwanted foliage and rocks from the area in order to design the layout of your crop farm.
  • Level the field: Once you’re confident that there are no weed roots to be found on your farmland, you’ll need to level out the field. There are regulations for farming on slopes steeper than 12% and, in any case, it will be easier to work on level ground. Once this is done, you can also start digging out holes for where your crops are going to be planted.
  • Test your soil: Your soil is the most important factor of your land. Without the right soil, you’ll just be wasting your time. Once you’ve cleared and levelled the land and dugout your seedling holes, you can take a sample from each of the holes and different areas of the farm where you will be farming, and send them off for testing. These tests will cover a whole lot of aspects (such as soil structure, pH levels, available nutrients and aeration ability) that will all influence what type of crops you will be able to grow. Then you’re going to have to work hard to keep your soil healthy. Healthy soil retains water, has plenty of nutrients and is fertile. All of which can be achieved through the addition of organic matter to the soil, as well as a few other practices.
  • Time for tillage: Tillage is another soil preparation activity. For cultivated and arable land, you need to till the soil with tillage machinery. This will encourage water retention, nutrients and organic matter. There are different methods of tilling which will depend on the type of farm you plan to run and the amount of tillage the soil needs in this preparation phase.

How to maintain cultivated land

Now that your land is ready and your crops are planted, you need to be able to maintain the cultivation of the land. It will all come down to the maintaining the quality of your soil so that it is a productive environment for crop growth. And that will require agricultural practices such as:

  • Planting cover crops: If you want to protect the crops you have and enrich the soil at the same time, you need to plant cover crops. Legumes, brassica and ryegrass are popular cover crops that can be planted among your regular crops to help maintain your cultivated land by crop protection soil enrichment.
  • Adding a layer of mulch: Mulch is a layer of practically any material that is thrown on top of your soil. Leaf, peach pit, bark and compost are examples of mulch that can be used on your soil. The function thereof will be to help the soil retain moisture, regulate temperature and even discourage weed growth.

It’s safe to say that, technically, any land qualifies as cultivated land. As long as you take the necessary steps to make and keep it that way.

Article Submitted By:
Mitchelle Jones.
South Africa.
For EnvironmentGo!

Best ways to purify water and make it drinkable

Best ways to purify water and make it drinkable
Water is a basic need to which all people have the right to have access to it. But, unfortunately, that is not the case for many countries and areas in this world. Besides it being a fundamental right, you may also find yourself in a situation where you’re forced to turn to natural (but not always fresh) sources of water which you would need to purify it before you can drink.

Best ways to purify water and make it drinkable

The ways in which you can purify water to make it drinkable that will be discussed in this article aren’t all possible for individuals alone and are also solutions for the governments of countries without clean water. Purifying water can be a lengthy and costly process, but it will always be a necessary one as long as there are people around who need it.

Before we get to those ways, we’ll be looking over the dangers of unclean water and how to know if water is unclean to drink. Clean drinking water is used daily to keep us alive, prepare and cook our food and keep us clean. Everyone needs it.

Dangers of drinking unclean water

Many people have no alternate water source to go to and have no choice other than to drink unclean water in order to survive. The problem is that there are many dangers to drinking unclean water.

When we talk about unclean water, we’re referring to water that has been contaminated. This can be anything from untreated sewage, leaked chemicals, agricultural runoff, pollution (plastic, oil, glass, etc) and even as a result of urbanisation. And consuming these types of water can cause many health issues for those who drink it.

Unclean water becomes a home for a range of harmful bacterias such as E.coli and total coliforms. Besides from bacteria, they may also contain traces of lead, pesticides, nitrates, chlorinated solvents and dangerously high levels of fluoride and arsenic which are already naturally present in water.

Diseases and health concerns that arise from drinking unclean water include (but are not limited to):

  • Cholera: You’ve probably all heard of cholera and how serious it is. The culprit bacteria is Vibrio cholerae which is commonly found in contaminated water. The symptoms include severe diarrhoea and vomiting which lead to dehydration. The treatment plan for cholera includes hydration and antibiotics but, if left untreated can result in shock and death. There are in many places (should be all places) where there are water and medical solutions to address cholera outbreaks in rural areas.  
  • Dysentery: There is Shigella and Amoebic dysentery to be aware of, both of which entail an infected intestinal tract, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and dehydration (which, again if left untreated, can be fatal). Fluids are an essential course of treatment and antibiotics only if necessary.
  • Typhoid fever: Headaches, fever (go figure), abdominal pain and constipation are onset symptoms which can lead to bronchitis as well. Typhoid fever can be treated with antibiotics but can persist for up to four months without treatment.

Signs that a water source is unsafe to drink

The dangers are undeniable and the worst part is that you can’t always help it. What you can do is make sure you know what the signs are of contaminated water.

  • Murky, cloudy or discoloured water
  • A strong smell of chlorine or sulphur
  • Tasting anything chemically or bitter
  • Any water from a stagnant water sources

If you are wary of the water running from your taps, you can buy a home-test kit and test the water for any signs of contamination.

Different ways to purify water

There are a few good ways to purify water and make it safe to drink and use.

  • Desalination: The process of converting seawater to freshwater by extracting the mineral components is called desalination. Through desalination plants, freshwater can be distributed to areas where no clean water is available, so much as two megalitres a day. The problem is that these plants can take up to three years to build.
  • Boiling: For at-home water purifying solutions, the easiest route is through the boiling of water. Boiling may be effective in getting rid of bacterial organisms, but may prove ineffective in removing any metals or chemicals. In those cases, you will need to look at other purifying methods.  
  • Chemicals: Water treatment via chemicals has to be “just right”. Too little and the water won’t be cleaned enough and too much and you’ll likely fall ill anyway. Yes, you may taste the chemicals you use, but it will be safe so long as you’re aware of correct dosages. Types of chemicals used to purify water include chlorine bleach, iodine and chlorine dioxide tablets.
  • Filters: There are a variety of ways you can filter water – cloth, plant material, carbon filters – and all can be effective. You even get bottles with built-in filtration systems and filter-straws that filter water as you drink it (these are ideal if you’re hiking in the middle of nowhere and run low on your water supply).
Michelle Jones.