Engineering for the Environment

After hearing from the farmers at Life Monteverde and seeing the coffee farm, I cleared up a lot of misconceptions I had  prior to the visit about being a coffee farmer. The thought process and methodology that Tico farmers use when growing their crops is very much centered around problem solving, especially when dealing with sustainability and environmental issues. I was always aware that problem solving has to be a part of virtually any business, but I didn’t fully understand how much they focus on constantly improving their processes and technology. I learned today that one motivational system for continual improvement used at this particular farm was the Bandera Azul (Blue Flag) certification. In order to maintain this designation, the farm must keep careful documentation of their sustainability regarding water and other resources while also setting attainable goals to promote improvement. This shows that although the farmers have already made sustainability a focus of their work, they are still using government programs, such as Bandera Azul, to keep them on the right track.

 

It was very clear through the entirety of our visit that the Life Monteverde farm places an emphasis on finding ways to promote the health of the environment. This is one of their biggest challenges to face when solving problems because they must constantly evaluate the environmental impact of their actions. Additionally, they are working to help the environment recover from the deforestation practices that were once used by planting new trees in and around their farm. The Tico farmers were also very excited about educating people about the environment and their sustainability practices.

 

Engineering and new technologies are extremely important in sustainable agriculture because of the emphasis on problem solving. One of the most interesting technologies I saw today was the way they capture the gases and recycle the water used in the decompostion when producing the organic fertilizer. They are ensuring that the process doesn’t harm the environment by capturing the gas to use as fuel and recycling the water used. However, they are still applying engineering principles to this process by trying to improve the current system in order to make it even more environmentally friendly. One improvement they are hoping to make is developing a way to store the gas produced instead of simply sending it through the pipe. This would both increase the efficiency and maximize the gas they can use as fuel.

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