The rise in unnatural processed foods and the awareness that they will eventually kill us has sparked a newfound interest in agriculture. The average consumer now wants to know where and how their food is grown or raised, and this demand is shaping the way large and small farmers plant, raise, and track their product. Technology will play a massive role in allowing farmers to manage their farms. It will also help consumers learn more about the food they eat.
But aside from the trend towards provenance in agriculture, what more will define the future of agriculture?
These industry insiders have seen the waves shaping the sands of agriculture, and they've shared their opinions on what that future will look like:
1. Mark Young, CTO & Head of Product, The Climate Corporation (subsidiary of Bayer)
“My vision for the future of agriculture is a digitized world where all farmers are able to use data to make better-informed decisions and precision technology to flawlessly execute every decision on their farm. Perhaps I'm being optimistic, but it's also a world where AgTech innovators adopt a collaborative approach to deliver integrated solutions to all the world’s farmers – from the 50,000-acre soybean farmer in Brazil to the two-acre vegetable grower in rural India.”
2. Pauline Canteneur, Business Strategy Analyst at FarmWise
“At FarmWise we believe that autonomous and sustainable plant-level farming is the future of agriculture. New kinds of agricultural machines are now starting to arise. They're able to collect data on soil- and plant health and trigger actions on each crop individually, in real time.”
3. Dylan Bathurst, Software Engineer at Purse
“I work in the blockchain space as an engineer but grew up in Kansas on a wheat farm. I’ve seen first hand the issues with supply chain, and centralization of money in futures trading so I believe that blockchain/crypto is going to have an equalizing impact on agriculture in the coming years. On a micro scale, I’m noticing a trend in “efficienc farming” with technology like farm bot as well as “social farming” where small family farmers are much more present on social media to promote their farms and sell their produce.”
4. Emma Weston, CEO and Co-Founder of AgriDigital
“To provide food and fiber for an increasing global population, the future of agriculture is all about technology, connectivity, and sustainability. Precision farming innovations such as moisture sensors, drones, and GPS enabled tractors are helping farmers collect and analyze vital data on their crops and paddocks, ensuring they optimize each growing season, and manage resources and outcomes for future seasons. It’s not just farmers focusing on sustainability; consumers are also increasingly demanding their food be produced using techniques that conserve natural resources and limit environmental pressure.”
5. Michael “Mr. Hemp ” Bowman, co-founder of First Crop
“Our future is being driven by technology; the transition from commodities to ingredients. A tech-savvy consumer, empowered by tools like Block Chain that empowers new entrepreneurs, will deliver nutrition in a transparent way. New crops like hemp are full of promise for a new generation of ingredients, supplements, and environmentally beneficial consumer products. At First Crop, we're integrating the power of the cannabis plant, healthy soils through regenerative agricultural practices and focusing on a new generation of farmers to contribute positively to this paradigm shift.”
6. Ramsay Huntley, VP of Wells Fargo's Clean Technology and Innovation Philanthropy Program
“The question we need to be focused on is ‘what is the future of food production and consumption in a world facing resource scarcity and climate change?”That answer has two parts: First, agriculture producers (i.e., farmers) need to produce grain, dairy and livestock in ways that are more environmentally and economically sustainable. Second, we need to get serious about reducing food waste, a $200 billion problem in America that equates to 30% to 40% of total food production. Since most waste occurs after first-level food processing, there are a number of areas we can focus on such as extending shelf life and logistics issues including optimizing the cold chain, delivery and sale of perishable products, and repurposing food waste into biofuel or fertilizer before it hits the landfill.”
7. Jehiel Oliver, CEO of Hello Tractor
“Mechanized farming coupled with modern technology is ultimately the future of agriculture. In order to achieve global food security, crop yields need to double. But this cannot happen if farmers across the world still rely upon antiquated ways of farming. More effort needs to go into the work of constantly bringing farmers up to speed regarding all modern technologies such as tractor-service-on-demand, precision farming, weather forecasting, etc. available to them. They need to understand how these technologies optimize their production, help them better manage their operations, save money and make even more money off bigger yields.”
8. Raffaele M. Maiorano, Chairman of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR)
“Precision farming is real, agtech is growing day by day and IoT is part of the process for the bigger companies. Of course, smallholder needs to be integrated, but they can't avoid the future. The role of an agricultural organization like Confagricoltura or Agricoltural forum like the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) is sharing knowledge with farmers worldwide.”
9. Darcy Pawlik, VP Global Agriculture at Understory, Inc.
“AI in Agriculture will be rebranded to Autonomous Intelligence to reflect the robotization of the industry using hardware such as tractors, combines, grain trucks, etc. The hardware is networked together with sophisticated software to increase scale and efficiency to meet today's advanced technological demands generated by urban centers worldwide. “
10. Michael Ott, CEO at Rantizo
“The future of agriculture is automation and technology. There aren't enough workers to feed a growing population. Automation helps with repetitive tasks and enables food production in areas with decreasing population. Labor is a constant need- across different crops and geographies.”
11. Jeff Klaumann, CTO of Internet of Things America
“We are facing a global food crisis as the population is expected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050. Food production must increase by 50% in order to meet the population needs but farmland is decreasing as urban areas are expected to triple in size by 2030. Technology is key to addressing this crisis and will transform agriculture with automation and remote monitoring.
Despite being one of the oldest industries in the United States, agriculture as a whole has been one of the slowest to leverage new technologies in their business. However, as new technologies enter the market and existing technology scale with reduced costs, we expect agriculture to accelerate it’s the adoption of emerging tech for various applications.”
12. Josh Siteman, Managing Director at Intravision Light Systems, Inc.
“Controlled Environment Agriculture will have an important role in the future of food. Not as a replacement — that would be an entirely too pessimistic outlook on our planets future – but certainly as a compliment to industrialized agriculture. The core staples will continue to be produced and controlled by the industrialized farming industry but skews like leafy green produce, berries and traditional medical plants will move indoors into controlled environments; stabilizing supply chains, standardizing quality and ensuring repeatability of products all year round. “
13. Chris Rawley, CEO of Harvest Returns
“People increasingly want to know how, where, and who is producing their food. The desire for traceable, farm-to-table food is driving the decentralization of agriculture in the United States. The vast majority of America’s food production takes place in the Midwest and West Coast. Locally grown food is fresher, contains more nutrients, and uses less energy to transport to market. The growth of controlled environment or indoor agriculture production like hydroponics and aquaponics will result in fewer ‘food miles' and year-round food production closer to where it is consumed.”
14. Oswaldo Loor, Founder and CEO of Shenzhen Drones
“In the last few years the technology for agriculture has developed fast, still has room to mature and improve, but as never before the tools that are now appearing will help to reduce costs, improve yields and be more environmentally friendly.”
15. Meg Kummerow, Owner of Fly the Farm
“If there is one thing guaranteed in life it's change. Farmers have always been seen as salt of the earth people, hardworking and simple, mass producing foodstuffs for the greater population. However, I can see the change, where farmers are the leaders in nutrition provision. Bringing multiple technologies together to produce highly nutritious food to the masses. And not just for the most wealthy, but for those amongst us who are the most vulnerable to poor nutrition. Farmers boots will still need to be seen in their fields (or warehouses), as they say, the best fertilizer is the farmers' footprints in the paddock. But technology will make the must of those footprints.”
16. Ryan Chan, founder and CEO at UpKeep Maintenance Management
“Agriculture, like many industries in the US, is undergoing a transition towards automation. With a booming global population not appearing to slow down, efficiency will be key to sustainable food production. Agriculture is an aging workforce, with twice as many farmers aged over 65 than under 45.
Because of this, consolidation and conglomeration of farming operations will likely occur. Agriculture dynamics will change as farms become larger and more business oriented than they ever have been before. To support farmers through this, CMMS softwares have the potential to make a huge impact. CMMS softwares make it easier to manage inventory, access data on the go, improve efficiency, and improve productivity.”
17. Pat Rogers, founder of AgFuse
“The future of ag is doing more with less…more productivity, more sustainability, and more profitability all while having access to less labor, land, equipment and other resources. The ag industry is adapting and leveraging technology because we have to. There are two dramatic shifts undergoing in ag right now which are forcing tech adoption:
1) there is a shortage of farm labor to choose from and 2) sustainability is being driven by the actual farmers who not only care for their land but see it as a way to improve profitability.”
18. Vibor Cipan, CEO and co-founder of Point Jupiter
“The future of agriculture is necessarily the future of human civilization. As much as the birth of agriculture contributed to creating permanent settlements and enabled first organizations to grow and thrive, it will have an equally profound effect on us and our future. However, if I have to pick a single element, then I would say it is climate-smart agriculture closely tied to advances in AI and the fourth industrial revolution.
There is no unique technology or approach that will (re)define the future of agriculture – instead, it's the entire gamut – from better and improved types of crops to precision agriculture, sensors and IoT (especially with 5G), and all the way to blockchain, robots, and more sustainable pesticides and fertilizers.”
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