Animal & Plant
Efficiency

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Growing more. Using less. For farmers, it’s that simple. 

Sustainability and efficiency on the land go hand-in-hand. Farmers do more with less thanks to innovation and technology.

Over the last 70 years, U.S. farms nearly tripled production while resources, including land, energy and fertilizer, remained stable. 

In 1990, farmers would have needed almost 100 million additional acres to harvest the same amount of corn, cotton, rice, soybeans and wheat produced in 2018. That’s more than the land area of the entire state of Montana!

Biotechnology, such as genetic modification, reduces costly inputs and improves weed management, allowing farmers to reduce tillage. That means better soil, water and air quality. Roughly 90% of corn, cotton and soybeans grown in the U.S. have been improved through biotechnology.

Thanks to improved genetics, nutrition and herd management, U.S. farmers produce more beef per animal. Today, farmers produce the same amount of beef with one-third fewer cattle than in 1977.

The U.S. is a global leader in beef production efficiency. In fact, the U.S. produces 18% of the world’s beef with only 6% of the world’s cattle. 

Other than delicious and nutritious steaks, roasts and burgers, there are hundreds of uses for cattle byproducts. Think ties, asphalt, ink, dyes, adhesives and plastics. We use everything but the moo!

Reducing waste is a big deal for farmers. Think about cotton. The lint, or fiber, made into clothes, towels and dollar bills! Cottonseed is used for oil and cattle feed because it’s rich in fiber, protein and fat.

Chicken production has a relatively small environmental footprint. It takes 1.82 pounds of feed to produce 1 pound of chicken. Fifty years ago, that required 2.4 pounds of feed. 

Chickens are humanely and efficiently grown in houses, which saves water and energy as well as manpower. Modern houses allow chickens to be raised with carefully formulated feed, access to clean water, room to grow and professional veterinary care.

Poultry farmers use 39% less fossil fuels and 58% less water than in 1965. More than 95% of poultry bedding material is recycled and reused to fertilize crops.

Additional Resources:

· Forages: It Pays Farmers to Be Efficient Alabama Cooperative Extension System, June 2022​

· Alabama Farmers Grow More While Using Less Alabama Farmers Federation Neighbors Magazine, July 2022

· Cotton: A Sustainable Choice in Alabama's Climate Alabama Cooperative Extension System, June 2022

· Cattle: The Ultimate Upcyclers Beef. It's What's For Dinner, brought to you by beef farmers and ranchers

· GMOs: Unlocking Agriculture’s Potential Through Bioengineering Alabama Cooperative Extension System

· Alabama’s Commitment to Sustainable Aquaculture Alabama Cooperative Extension System

· The Protein Pact