By the year 2050, there will be an estimated 10 billion people living on Earth, many more than our agriculture industry is built to support. Besides that, our world today is marked by a food disparity. We leave tons and tons of food each year to rot in landfills while people are malnourished or starving, and the food we do eat travels an exorbitant distance to reach our plates, which maximises environmental impact while minimising taste.
As humans become increasingly aware of the food gap and environmental issues raised by food production, they begin to look toward sustainable agriculture as a way to produce food more efficiently and waste less. That might look like consumer micro gardens, or on a bigger scale, a technological revolution in agriculture.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at agricultural developments that have the potential to sustain our food supply chain and Earth for the years ahead.
Why do we need “Sustainable Agriculture”?
In the years to come, scientists anticipate an increase in extreme weather events, declines in crop yield and livestock productivity, widespread pest and weed distribution, and countless environmental events that will impact our food production levels and quality. Global warming is already upon us, and believe it or not, climate change affects your food.
If we want a future filled with food availability and security for all, we will have to look towards sustainable agricultural methods. Sustainable agriculture involves the use of renewable resources and environmentally friendly, non-toxic methods of crop growth and livestock raising.
Although it may initially run up against implementation barriers, the benefits of sustainable agriculture are simply too powerful to be denied. Those farmers and scientists trained in sustainable methods have the power to reduce hunger levels to zero, provide communities with clean water and sanitation, and produce tastier, healthier food for generations to come.
One of the issues facing farmers today is a lack of arable land. As building development has ensued and soil quality has declined, food producers find themselves needing more and more ground they simply don’t have access to. That’s when they started looking for alternative solutions and discovered vertical farming.
In urban communities pressed for space, vertical farming offers a practical, economical solution. By stacking crops vertically rather than horizontally, producers can increase yield per square meter and grow chemical-free, clean food. Besides decreasing water and land waste, vertical farming even gives producers the flexibility to grow unique heirloom crops in the middle of a major city.
From San Francisco, California to Yokosuka, Japan, vertical farming and the IoT intersect in the cleanroom, relying on efficient IoT solutions and crop rotation methods to produce more food that’s better for you.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is an interconnected network of devices and sensors that aims to maximise efficiency and minimise price points. In sustainable agriculture, moisture sensors and drones are key aspects of producing food without waste. With today’s technology, nothing is impossible.
For instance, drone sensors can allow farmers to determine the best way to water crops while tractor sensors can detect which crops need the most fertiliser. GPS and telemetry systems can gauge tractor engine speed and alert farmers when maintenance checks are needed, helping them increase fuel efficiency and make better use of the fuel they do use.
Water sensors determine the appropriate time of day and amount of water when it comes to crop irrigation. By detecting moisture levels and planning comprehensive irrigation systems that take into consideration factors like temperature, sunlight, and drip irrigation, copious amounts of water waste can be avoided.
Wearable tech for livestock
Don’t be surprised if, in the coming years, you hear about FitBits for cows. Just as humans might use an Apple Watch or similar device to track their vital signs and movement, farmers can use wearable tech to track animal activity and well-being, helping them to raise healthier, happier animals.
Biotechnology breeding development is an important component of sedentary agriculture. For hundreds of years, humans have increasingly bred plants to develop specific traits, like faster germination, disease tolerance, and slower rates of perishability. Recent research has looked at ways to improve crop yield and drought resistance to combat region-specific problems and feed more people with fewer crops.
The Future of Agriculture
One study by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action revealed that “56% of consumers said they expect farmers and ranchers to use new technologies and innovations to protect the environment.” If consumer preferences are any indication of trends in agriculture, the future promises to be greener and overall less wasteful.
Although initial adoption of sustainable methodologies may be slow to roll out, once they’re underway, it’s not too difficult to put sustainable living on autopilot. Whether farmers are making use of sustainable energy practices, practicing efficient fleet management, or reducing their toll on soil and water supplies, one thing is certain. The way to ensure a healthy, plentiful food future is to look towards sustainable agriculture and its most loyal aide, technology.