The future of agriculture: Can we feed the world without destroying it?

Our current industrial food production methods fail to provide the agricultural products needed to support a growing global population and damage the environment. The complexity of the issue requires different answers. This article explores the future of farming by analyzing the various ways in which we can improve the sustainability of traditional farming, as well as how new, advanced technologies can offer us a much-needed solution to feeding our world without destroying it.

The future of agriculture

according to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a quarter of the world’s population is “moderately or severely undernourished”. If the world population is projected to reach 10 billion by 2050, the question of how to feed the world will become even more pressing. Along with this situation is the fact that industrial agriculture is unable to meet the global food demand and causes great damage to the environment.

In it new book Georges Monbiot of “Regenez” describes agriculture as “the biggest cause of environmental destruction in the world”, adding that farmland covers 30 times more land than urban areas. Widespread use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, depletion of aquifer water sources, overgrazing, and loss of topsoil are common problems. was analyzed and clearly leads to the conclusion that farming practices must change.

However, the nature and direction of these changes are complex. inGreen Transformations Policy‘, for example, authors Ian Scoones, Melissa Leach and Peter Newell warn that there is much to debate about what causes instability. They ask, “Who is to blame for what, and how can we balance our existence according to planetary boundaries?” they emphasize the importance of the question.

With this in mind, we must accept that the notion of a single, “silver bullet” solution to the problems caused by industrial farming is a pipe dream. As Scoones, Leach, and Newall explain, different paths to sustainability exist, from technology-led and market-driven to state- or citizen-led, and which is most appropriate is largely contextual.

Technocentric ways, from vertical farming for lab grown meatfor example, it has been praised as “the future of farming”. However, such technologies are still not available globally.

Therefore, we must adopt a mixed approach to agriculture, supporting the development of paradigm-shifting technologies while not forgetting the important benefits of low-tech, traditional and community-based farming practices.

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3 examples of what the future of agriculture looks like

With the emergence of “landless” agriculture (eg hydroponics and aeroponics) in the late 20th century the seeds were sown for the agricultural revolution that separated production from the land at scale. As we will explore, numerous companies, organizations, and technologies have since been developed that seek to increase productivity while reducing their environmental impact.

1. Vertical Farming

A wide variety benefits from vertical farming is well documented, so we’ll address its features first Fischer Farms, a vertical farming company based in the UK. Focusing primarily on leafy greens (such as rocket, leafy greens, chard, basil, dill, and parsley), Fischer Farms uses a water solution (hydroponics) to ensure that the nutrients are delivered to the plants. Plus, the plants are grown in a medium like rockwool or perlite, which takes soil use out of the equation.

By carefully controlling the indoor conditions of their facilities, Fischer Farms is able to completely eliminate pesticides, herbicides or insecticides from production. At the same time, stacking their products on several levels allows them to produce more than what is grown in the field. This means that a single Fischer Farms vertical farm can produce the same amount of food that would require 250 acres of field-grown crops per acre. This type of production is critical to the sustainability of our food systems as we face a future with increasingly harsh weather conditions.

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2. Data driven hydroponic farming

Similarly, AppHarvest, a US-based indoor farming operation, claims Obtaining 30 times the tomato yield of conventional farms using 90% less water. This is made possible by using 300 monitors strategically placed to measure the indoor climate of the greenhouses and deliver accurate levels of important inputs from light to carbon dioxide (CO2). In addition to, solar panels deliver clean energy to the greenhouses to power the operation. Most importantly, by increasing agricultural productivity while reducing demands on land, both Fischer Farms and AppHarvest help facilitate a situation where we can continue to return marginal farmland to desert.

the future of farming

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3. Carbon-Neutral Animal Feed

A pioneer in the food chain, taking on a different challenge from the agricultural industry Better origin developed a system to provide carbon-neutral animal feed such as insect protein on site. This is achieved by converting farm waste into larval feed, which in turn feeds chickens, pigs, fish, etc. it feeds on insect larvae before becoming food for

The benefits of such a system are countless. First, farm waste is used to its full extent instead of having to be removed or allowed to rot. This creates a circular system that dramatically reduces inputs and waste. Second, it eliminates the need to import food from elsewhere, thereby reducing the amount of CO2 that goes into production – Better Origin calculate that their X1 (their flagship biomass converter) can save over 130 tonnes of CO2 each year. In addition, it helps reduce the need for conventional feeds such as grains and soybeans, which are grown on a large and destructive scale. Estimates show that about one-third of all grain produced is used to feed livestock.

New Technologies are what we need, but it is too early to fully trust them

However, as impressive and inspiring as these technologies are, we must keep in mind that many are still in their early stages and therefore still expensive and unsuitable for large-scale production. Despite their undeniable importance, we won’t be able to trust such companies until they replace conventional farming, allowing them to scale up and thereby provide operational efficiencies that will significantly reduce costs. But this can only happen if governments and the private sector recognize the importance of investing in sustainable farming technologies. If these institutions take the lead, it is reasonable to suggest that private funding will follow.

However, until these technologies can take over and eventually replace conventional farming, we must consider how traditional farming can improve its industrial practices.

3 ways to increase the sustainability of traditional farming

There are many ways to make traditional farming more environmentally friendly: from pasture-raised beef herds to community-organized urban permaculture.

1. Rewinding and food production

Our first example here is the Knepp Estate in the UK. Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree towards the end of the last millennium recognized the intensive farming ethic meant that they could not produce enough from their farm and make a profit to sustain it. So they were empowered by reality to restore their 3,500 acres with amazing results.

As part of the project, a herd of longhorn cattle was introduced as a proxy for the now-endangered auroch. Their breeding success was such that their numbers soon had to be controlled, providing high-quality, organic beef with almost zero feed or infrastructure costs. But the benefits of the project did not end there. Chemical analysis of meat from pasture-fed cattle showed twice as high levels of powerful antioxidants like selenium and beta-carotene, along with higher levels of vitamins A and E. In addition, the newly revitalized ecosystem at Knepp, of which longhorns are an integral part, began sequestering increasing amounts of CO2 as soil health continued to improve. Along with the elimination of feed imports, beef production in this way has demonstrated that cows do not have to be the enemy of the climate.

2. Pasture-fed beef and regenerative agriculture

Patrick Holden, co-founder of the UK-based Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) and the US Sustainable Food Alliance, agrees with Knepp’s conclusions. A longtime advocate of sustainable farming practices, his cattle are rotated between pastures to prevent overgrazing and ensure the soil remains healthy. He also points out that ruminants (including cattle) are the only animals that can digest the cellulose in grass and alfalfa, which is essential for transferring this energy to trophic levels. On a smaller scale, when cultivated in a regenerative manner, cattle can be of great benefit to ecosystems.

This is a theme that long-time eco-activist Simon Fairlie has identified for decades. “Feeding Britain from scratch” citing SFT reportFairlie favors halving grain production, promoting mixed organic farming, growing more pulses and ensuring that waste feed and by-products are fed to livestock. Such measures are supposed to “increase the level of food self-sufficiency while allowing an additional 2.5 million hectares of land for tree planting and nature restoration.” Basically, it’s a call for more humane farming practices, a radical reduction in chemicals, and a comeback. regenerative agriculture.

3. Urban Permaculture

Shifting our focus away from traditional farming, the trend towards community-led urban farming projects is playing an important role in reducing food miles, getting people involved in food production, and addressing food insecurity in cities where fresh vegetables are few and far between. . Taking Detroit as an example, ‘Keep growing Detroit‘, an organization that promotes and supports food self-sufficiency in the city, estimates that 1,400 urban gardens and farms have sprung up. Such projects not only ensure the availability of local fresh produce, but also community ownership of the means of production, thereby ensuring supply chain transparency that is sorely lacking in the production of many industrial agriculture organizations. Plus, engaging with the land has proven mental and physical health benefits. Perhaps most importantly, urban agriculture and community projects diversify the food supply, which will become an increasingly important trend as the climate continues to change.

the future of farming

Feeding the world without destroying it

It is undeniable that modern industrial farming practices are causing environmental destruction in the developing world. Despite the obvious cuts to higher yields, we still struggle to feed the world. If we want to succeed, we need to adopt top-down, technocentric to community-led solutions.

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