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From Farms to Solutions: Tackling Agricultural Waste for a Sustainable Future

Climate change presents a significant waste management challenge, including agricultural waste that often goes overlooked.

Eashani Chettri
Agriculture generates immense waste that needs to be tackled (Photo courtesy: Unsplash)
Agriculture generates immense waste that needs to be tackled (Photo courtesy: Unsplash)

Climate change is real, folks and it’s happening all around the world as we see it. One of the greatest challenges that climate change brings is that of waste management. We see people talk about household waste, electrical waste, the piling industrial waste but what doesn’t factor into the conversation is agricultural waste.


We’re too busy focusing on policies to increase production and productivity- that we’ve forgotten to take a look at what happens to a huge portion of the produce. It goes to waste and along with that the by-products from the farms also do not meet proper disposal.

Now, let’s take a look at the classification of agricultural waste. They can be classified as follows: Animal production of solid wastes;

  • Food and meat processing solid wastes: These include solid wastes generated by animals. It can be bedding, litter, damaged feed, animal remains, and so on.

  • Crop production solid wastes: Produced from agricultural activities including crop production. This includes crop residues, husks, and so on.

  • On-farm medical solid wastes: on-farm healthcare Solid wastes are wastes produced as a result of using pesticides, medications, or vaccines on humans or animals. These wastes include syringes, disposable needles, vaccination wrappers or containers, and more.


  • Horticultural production solid wastes: These solid wastes from agriculture are produced when horticultural plants and landscapes are grown and maintained for aesthetic purposes. Prunings and grass clippings are two examples of these wastes.

  • Chemical wastes: The term "chemical wastes" in this context refers to agricultural solid wastes, such as pesticide bottles or containers, produced by the use of pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides on farms and in stores. Many illiterate and untrained farmers still use pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides for agricultural purposes in developing nations, which leads to abuse by these uneducated farmers.

There are ways to reduce agricultural waste and recycle them in order to create a more sustainable environment. The conversation around sustainability greatly focuses on soil health and human health but it rarely tackles what we can do with the by-products of farming. And when we’re feeding a population as large as the one that we have right now; the amount of waste generated demands another industry by itself to be fixed. Here are some common ways and methods to reduce agricultural waste:

  • Composting/organic manure: Kitchen wastes, which are primarily agricultural solid waste from food waste, can be sterilized and utilized to make fertilizer, animal feed, and bioenergy through anaerobic digestion.


  • Substrates for edible fungi cultivation: Different agricultural solid wastes have been used as substrates to grow mushrooms. This is a great way to earn additional income as well.

  • Nonconventional feed ingredient: There have been several attempts to recycle agricultural waste by feeding it to cattle as a cheap source of feed for producing animal-source protein. Mycomeat, a novel feed component, is likewise made from agricultural solid wastes. The wastes were used as a substrate, and the chicks were fed a combination of the substrates and the growing fungi (mushrooms).

  • Alternative energy sources and bio-fuel production: Anaerobic digestion is a method for converting agricultural solid wastes into green energy. Due to the high protein and fat content of these wastes as well as the lack of effective technology needed to dispose of biogas residues, anaerobic digestion stability may be compromised.

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