Agriculture is regarded as the world’s oldest profession, a vital transition in human history dating back millennia and the foundation for the complex societies, technologies, and economies of today. The agriculture sector embodies innovation, adaption, and perseverance, undergoing remarkable developments when faced by societal and environmental challenges over the centuries, inspiration for and enabled by advancements in science and technology. Comprising of crop cultivation, livestock farming, agribusiness, research and technology integration, the agriculture sector is fundamental to sustaining life on Earth, as well as advancing economic growth and environmental stewardship. Today, the agriculture sector faces a range of challenges including climate change, resource scarcity, global food security, environmental sustainability, and technical advancements, which require innovative solutions and advanced materials to ensure resilience, sustainability and prosperity for today and the future. Goodfellow, a trusted global supplier of advanced materials, provides quality advanced materials and expert technical advice to support current industry requirements and partner with the world’s innovators in research and development to enable scientific and technological advancements in this sector.
The industry is facing ever-growing challenges on a number of fronts. The global coverage of arable land is diminishing. Changes in the global climate and threats to water supplies are also threatening global food security. While it is clear that the agriculture sector desperately needs innovation to rise to these challenges, it is also apparent that the future threats to food security pose a highly multifaceted and complex problem, and any solution will involve tackling practice and technology across all areas of the agricultural sector.
When it comes to improving agriculture practices to help move towards a sustainable future for food production, one challenge is to find new materials to support and improve agricultural practices. Large-scale farming relies heavily on the use of industrial farm equipment, including tractors, for preparing, planting and harvesting fields.
Rising diesel costs are often sufficient to further pressurise already limited profit margins in agriculture; improving vehicle efficiency is an important route to reducing costs, improving profitability and also reducing the environmental impact of agriculture vehicles.
One route to improving fuel efficiency for vehicles is to reduce their overall weight. Materials science can be one approach to achieving a weight reduction of agricultural vehicles with no compromise in performance.
Other areas of improvement include the replacement of many other types of farm equipment, from feed containers to milk pails that have to be transported around the farm. Finding sterile, inert materials that can be cheaply transported is another route to finding cost savings and minimising the environmental impact of farming.
Steels in the Agriculture Sector
Steel is a material found everywhere in the agricultural sector. From fence construction to most farm equipment, steel is a widely used material for its relative weather resistance, physical strength and relatively low price. However, there are now many improvements that can be made to steels to achieve better performance while still meeting the important criteria of affordability.
Goodfellow is an expert material supplier who has developed an extensive catalogue and expertise in the creation of alloys with the ideal properties to address customer needs and challenges. Goodfellow offers a range of off-the-shelf catalogue solutions and options for bespoke development. Whether it is finding the right combination of materials or the right machining option for your needs, Goodfellow can help you realise the benefits of high quality materials for your applications.
Stainless steel is an excellent choice for many agricultural options as it is easy to sterilise using high temperatures, easy to machine, and is corrosion resistant. Goodfellow offers a comprehensive range of over 300 stainless steel options in a number of thicknesses and formats so you can avoid wastage and speed up processing times.
Hardened using chromium, Goodfellow’s stainless steels can be provided with a number of tempering options to achieve the exact material properties you desire. Goodfellow is also happy to provide expert support with choosing the right kind of stainless steel that is best suited to your application.
Aluminium in the Agriculture Sector
Aluminium options are becoming increasingly attractive for a sector looking to make efficiency savings. With lower densities than their steel counterparts, aluminium alloys offer a lightweight alternative to steel with excellent corrosion resistance thanks to the oxide layer that forms spontaneously on the surface. Aluminium and its alloys are often more weather resistant than their steel counterparts.
Suitable for outdoor or indoor use, Goodfellow offers over 200 different aluminium products. Choosing the right quality materials can help extend the working life of farm equipment and furnishings; for instance, a good quality steel or aluminium farm gate, particularly with the right metal treatment, will easily last for years, in comparison to cheaper materials that may start to rust and age.
Aluminium is being increasingly incorporated into farm vehicles. Replacing cabins or the tractor cockpit is one relatively straightforward area to substitute steel with aluminium. The weight savings do not just mean fuel efficiency savings, but it also means that the tractor exerts less pressure on the ground it is navigating. Reducing pressure reduces the risk of soil compacting which can have a detrimental impact on water infiltration and drainage as well as oxygen penetration to plant roots.
The ductility of aluminium makes manufacturing complex farm equipment simple and is another attractive area for making weight reductions for efficiency savings. Another advantage of lighter farm equipment is that it also reduces the risk of injury from falling equipment or strike damage.
Tractors are one of the most common sources of farm injuries, and many of these are crush injuries due to vehicles overturning or falling equipment. Given that farming accidents are still alarmingly common, reducing the risk of the main source of farming injuries is also an important part of improving farming practices.
Contact Goodfellow today to see how your agricultural challenges could be addressed with the right choice and quality of materials.