Vineyard on rural hillside

Food security and sustainable farming are key priorities in both the agricultural sector and on the political agenda, with industry stakeholders working to maximise operational efficiency. But is there a solution for keeping machinery moving, while helping to produce our food more sustainably?

Globally, sustainable agriculture and food production are hot topics, with an estimated 800 million people worldwide suffering from hunger. 70% more food needs to be produced by 2050 to meet the demands of a constantly growing population1.

Consumers are also becoming much more conscious of food provenance and production, looking for clear traceability from farm to fork. With 84% of shoppers admitting they check where their food comes from ‘all’ or ‘most’ of the time2, this presents a unique and complex challenge for food producers all over the world.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2 aims to end hunger, as well as double agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, by 2030. In addition, it seeks to ensure sustainable food production systems by reinforcing agricultural practices that adapt with climate change and other disasters and improve land and soil quality.

This combination of factors means farmers will have to alter their business models to play their part in decreasing food waste and eradicating hunger at the same time. Availability of farming resource will play a vital role in helping them to achieve this, as well as reap the benefits of a more sustainable, competitive output.

Secret to Success

Technology is key to driving efficiency and exponentially scaling the value they deliver. Farmers and food producers now have access to more advanced precision equipment than ever before.

Regardless of your views on technology, there is no denying that agriculture is being revolutionised by industry 4.0. Drones are increasingly a regular part of day-to-day farm life, helping growers monitor their crops where land conditions don’t. Meanwhile GPS technologies installed on tractors now play a vital role in jobs such as soil sampling, field mapping and crop scouting to increase efficiency.

Today’s industry even has access to autonomous vehicles and robotic technology, which helps farmers gain something that can’t be quantified financially - time. As sustainable production becomes a more integral part of modern-day farming, the productivity of agricultural operations will increasingly depend on equipment working efficiently and reliably.

While critics of sustainable agriculture claim that it results in lower crop yield and reduced efficiency - as well as queries over how sustainable it actually is - the right lubricants and partnerships can help farmers ensure that equipment productivity is maximised. As well as this, it can help to protect the environment and expand the natural resources supply, moving us as an industry closer towards these 2030 goals.

Breakdown to Breakthrough

Effective lubrication is often undervalued on farms and its benefits are not understood. As a result, equipment breakdowns can be a frequent part of day-to-day life, which is particularly frustrating and costly during the busiest periods in the farming calendar. Ensuring equipment is always working at peak performance will become increasingly important as the sustainable agenda becomes ever pressing.

Extensive research carried out by Shell has shown that 68% of those surveyed say maximising the lifespan of existing equipment is a priority, while 77% recognise that effective maintenance can lead to cost savings. However, 41% often experience equipment breakdown due to ineffective lubrication, while 42% admit that lubrication is rarely a priority. A further 57% admit they didn’t realise effective lubrication leads to shorter periods of downtime3 - highlighting a real knowledge gap in this area.

But there is a solution. Shell Lubricant Solutions has the people and expertise to help farmers upskill and increase their knowledge of lubricants. This goes hand-in-hand with an impressive product portfolio that is proven to extend equipment life, reduce fuel consumption and extend oil drain interval. This enables farmers to play their part in meeting the UN’s sustainable farming targets.

By using the right combination of lubricants together, companies can improve vehicle and equipment productivity. Lubricant costs can be as little as 1-2% of total maintenance cost but optimising lubricant use across all operations can save 30% of operating costs4.

Knowledge is Power

To avoid unplanned machinery downtime and optimise cultivation, planting and harvesting, lubrication is therefore key. Services such as Shell LubeMatch allow farmers to find the right lubricant for their equipment in seconds. While Shell LubeCoach offers an expert-led training programme to help employers, and their staff deliver better performance through an in-depth lubrication training programme.

From farmers in the field to tractor manufacturers, sustainability will play an important role in the future of agriculture. The targets set by the UN are just over a decade away, so as an industry we need to take action now. Products and partnerships are key solutions to this global challenge. Food security is a serious, complex issue but farmers can play an important role in delivering a sustainable future.

1 Agriculture 4.0: The Future of Farming Technology, Oliver Wyman, February 2018

2 Do we care about the origin of our food? Elementar UK, 2017

3 All data from Agriculture: Global Report Powering Peak Performance, Edelman Intelligence, May 2018

https://www.shell.co.uk/business-customers/lubricants-for-business/agriculture/driveline.html

Featured content

Distributor Locator

Where to buy Shell oils and lubricants.

Industry Insights

Find out how lubricants can affect you and your maintenance costs, and what else you should think about, including getting the right partners involved.

Data sheets

Find key technical and safety information on our products at www.epc.shell.com.