Impact of agriculture is enormous and constant. Roughly 40 percent of the Earth’s suitable land surface is used for cropland and grazing. The number of domestic animals far outweighs the remaining wild populations. Every day, more primary forest falls against a tide of crops and pasture, and each year an area as large as the United Kingdom is lost. To address climate change we need to rethink farming.
Covid-19 has also exposed weaknesses with current food systems. Agriculture scientists have been aware for many decades of the dangers associated with farm labor. It shouldn’t be surprising then that Covid-19 has exposed weaknesses in current food systems.
It is similar to “just enough” and “just in case” food supply chains. They are effective but provide little redundancy. Humans are exposed to viruses when they invade the wilds by converting farmland into wilderness.
The promise of new technology is to help address these issues.Greener approachesreduce food production by focusing on local, intensive and plant-based production. If done correctly, these technologies could be —Vertical, cellular, and precision agriculture— Rebuild the connection between land and food
3. The Farm in the Box
Vertical farmingStacked trays aren’t something new. Innovators have used them for decades.Growing crops indoors has been practiced since Roman times. Vertical farms are now able to produce 20% more food with the help of modern robotics and LED lighting.
Currently, most vertical farms only produce greens, such as lettuce, herbs, and microgreens, as they are quick and profitable, but within five years many more crops will be possible as the cost of lighting continues to fall and technology develops.
Vertical farms are able to reduce herbicide and pesticide use and also recycle water. Vertical agriculture offers a way out of expensive, environmentally-intensive imports such as avocados and small fruits from California, for cold or hot climates.
Cellular agriculture, or the science of producing animal products without animals, heralds an even bigger change. The first products came to market in just the last six months after hundreds of millions were invested into this sector by the end of 2020.
Brave Robot “icecream”, made with no cows, as well as Eat Just’s very limited “chicken” release that has never been cluck.
Precision agriculture is another big frontier. The next big thing is self-driving tractor technology. They will collect data and plant the seeds in the most appropriate places and fertilize each plant with the right amount.
All three methods, precision, cellular, as well as vertical farming, should give us more food production on less land. We will also be able to use fewer inputs. Ideally, we’ll be able grow any crop at any place, anytime of the year. This will eliminate long and vulnerable supply chains which can waste energy.
2. Can agriculture 2.0 be ready?
They aren’t panaceas. While these technologies are slowly maturing quickly, they still are not quite ready for widespread adoption. Many are still too costly to be used on small or medium-sized farms. This could lead to farm consolidation.
Some people and some food theorists may bePlease be cautiousSome are puzzled as to why modern agriculture doesn’t allow us to produce the same food products our grandparents did. The critics of these agricultural technologies demand agri-ecological farming or regenerative farming. This would ensure sustainability via small, diversified farms.Provide local food for consumers.Regenerative agricultureVery promising.However, it isn’t certain it will scale..
Could cultured meats become common in grocery stores in the next decade?Firn/Shutterstock
These are all important points, but food security isn’t a universal solution. Small-scale, mixed-crop farm alternatives can suffer from labor shortages. These farms often produce high-end food which is out of reach for low-income households. This doesn’t mean that it has to be an “either/or”. There are benefits and drawbacks to all approaches and we cannot achieve our climate and food security goals without also embracing agricultural technology.
1. A bright future for agriculture
It is possible to combine some of the best features of alternative farming, such as sustainability and nutrition, with those of conventional agriculture (the economy efficiency and ability to scale), in order to create an agricultural revolution.
This approach is new in agriculture.a “closed-loop revolution,”Is already flowering in field (and labs), from high-tech greenhouses.The NetherlandsTheIndoor fish farms at SingaporeYou can visit theSilicon Valley cell agriculture companies.
Hydroponic cucumbers can be grown indoors with LED lights.Lenore Newman
Closed-loop farm use minimal pesticides and are energy- and land-efficient. You can have year-round local production. Repetitive hand labor is reduced, the environment is better, and animals are happier. With good policy and the provision of these facilities, it is possible to see land left uncultivated be restored to nature in parks or wildlife refuges.
Our world is shaped today by an agricultural revolution which began 10,000 years back. Next revolution will prove just as transformative. Covid-19 may be the first to bring up the shortcomings in our food system, but there is good news for the future of this important industry.