Published by AMTEC on 09th Feb 2022
We explore how the farming landscape may look in a few years time
The future of farming is an important subject, with discussion around the future of the agricultural industry becoming more and more frequent, and with new technologies being harnessed for the power of food production every year. Whilst it’s currently considered a major issue around the world, many would say that over the last few decades there has been little in the way of innovation in the farming industry. Thankfully, it seems like that’s starting to change. Increased effort is being put into developing and applying new technologies to improve modern farming. Here, we break down 5 new ways of improving on traditional farming practices.
Vertical farming is the process of creating areas to grow crops that can stack on top of each other. This then reduces the space needed to grow crops, as the same yield of crop farmed vertically will need far less space than of traditional farming methods. In fact, statistically, vertical farming is 390 times more productive than traditional methods. Vertical farming for the future has other bonuses as well as just saving space. Most vertical farms are set up indoors, so that they can be used all year round and be temperature regulated. This can prevent the need for seasonal growing, as a crop can be grown this way no matter the time of year, independent of the weather. In fact, in Clapham, an underground farm is being operated right underneath the busy pavements. Using LED lights to regulate growing conditions, Growing Underground produce salads and microgreens for use in the capital.
Nearly 70% of the world’s surface is covered in seawater, which isn’t great for growing much other than seaweed and algae. However, Australian company Sundrop Farms are looking to capitalise on this fact. By using innovative technologies, they are now using seawater and solar power to farm in new areas. The process starts with using seawater as a coolant for the greenhouses some of their crops are grown in. The seawater then evaporates, which removes the salt from it. This then provides water to irrigate the crops. It’s a sustainable, innovative solution.
Whilst using the seas helps to increase efficiency in farming techniques, there is still some of the dry surface of the planet not used for farming. 1/3 of the world’s land surface is covered with desert, which can prove incredibly resource intensive to farm. However, studies in Saudi Arabia are focused towards creating efficient methods of farming the deserts. This includes GM crops that are resistant to drought and intense heat, which usually accounts for around 60% of crop loss. Studying microbes that work with crop plants to help increase suitability to desert life is also an important part of this agricultural research.
Printing a meal really does sound like something from the future! But with advancements in technology, this may be the way we get our food in only a few years. 3D printing technologies are already being used to help manufacture some products for engineering industries, as well as others. Tests are now being done on using microalgae to provide proteins to 3D print into foods. Insect protein, which is another source of sustainable food, can also be added into the mix to produce more realistic printed foods.
Perhaps most familiar to current farmers, using more traditional methods, is the suggestion of the incorporation of drones. Drones could help the modern farming industry by providing a more efficient and faster way of monitoring crops. Soil health, which is a vitally important part of farming, could be monitored by drones from the sky. Tests are also being carried out with using drones to complete irrigation, crop spraying, and even seeding. These could help make the farming process much more accurate, with maximum yields being prioritised.
Whilst it’s impossible to say which of these methods will be successful at replacing the traditional farming methods used today, all the possibilities are exciting. Marrying technology with food production can help farming become more efficient, sustainable, and can reduce labour. The future of farming promises to be beneficial for all, and it’s potentially just around the corner!
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