According to a WFP study, almost 345 million people face high levels of food insecurity in 2023, so feeding them will be an enormous challenge. Moreover, as the world’s population multiplies, the demand for food will surge by 70% by 2050.
Because of this, the agriculture industry must become more innovative to cope with environmental changes. So far, there are signs of hope. Agriculture will continue to be a significant force in human life for decades, and we won’t have to wait three decades to see how it can improve things.
In the following sections, you’ll discover the innovations and technologies that shape agriculture today. You’ll learn about five emerging trends shaping the future of farmers and producers that promote growth and manage their produce.
Emerging Trends Shaping the Future of Farmers and Producers
1. Sustainability: A Mainstream Goal for Agriculture
Sustainability is no longer a niche or optional goal for agriculture but a mainstream and mandatory one. For instance, climate change affects the availability and quality of water, soil, and biodiversity resources essential for agriculture. Moreover, consumers are becoming more aware and concerned about their food choices’ environmental and social impacts.
Therefore, farmers and producers are adopting more sustainable practices to increase productivity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, waste generation, and chemical inputs. It may also involve improving transparency, traceability, and accountability along the food value chain from farm to fork.
For example, as the soybean industry transitions to sustainability, U.S. soybean farmers and producers play a crucial role. They are exploring innovative techniques such as precision agriculture, digitalisation, and sustainable farming practices to address the challenges of climate change and increasing food demand.
These emerging trends can enhance productivity, reduce environmental impact, feed a growing world population, and ensure long-term viability while improving productivity.
2. The Integration of the Agri-Ecosystem
Numerous participants exist within the farming industry, including seed producers, farming individuals and food manufacturers, innovative companies, and public authorities. It is usual for these actors to work autonomously, which blocks progress and partnership.
Farming automation is gaining popularity due to challenges such as hunger, environmental risk, and logistical disruptions. As a result, stakeholders are collaborating more amongst stakeholders—the agricultural ecosystem benefits significantly from collaborations and data sharing with agrotech companies.
For example, locally in Kenya, a technology platform called Farmshine facilitates connections between smallholder farmers and buyers, input suppliers, extension agents, and financial service providers. The platform uses cryptographic technology to create encrypted and transparent arrangements between farmers and producers, ensuring fair pricing and punctual disbursements.
By integrating the agri-ecosystem through digital technologies, Farmshine helps farmers increase their productivity and incomes while reducing post-harvest losses and improving food safety.
3. Novel Biocontrol Products
Pest and disease management is a significant challenge for farmers and producers as they adversely affect crop quality and quantity. Chemical pesticides and fungicides are often ineffective, costly, and harmful to human health. Fortunately, there’s a solution.
Novel biocontrol products are biological agents that use natural enemies or antagonists of pests and diseases to control them. They include microorganisms, insects, nematodes, plant extracts, and RNA interference (RNAi) — silencing specific genes in target organisms. These products offer a more sustainable, safe, and effective alternative to chemical pesticides and fungicides.
For instance, Biotalys is a Belgian company that develops novel biocontrol products like Evoca, a fungicide that can control botrytis — a fungal disease that affects grapes, strawberries, and other crops — based on protein molecules called AGROBODY bioactive. These proteins can target specific pests or diseases without harming beneficial organisms or the environment.
4. Digital Agriculture
Technology and computerised tools are transforming the future of farmers and producers through digital agriculture solutions. A digital agriculture solution can boost crop yield by helping policymakers make better choices.
An uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) (remotely piloted aircraft) helps precision agriculture improve operational efficiency, crop yield, and crop field monitoring. It can spot soil changes, watering issues, and fungal infections with satellite imagery.
With the advent of innovative technologies and investment from venture capitalists, the crop monitoring drone sector may grow from $0.88B in 2020 to $5.89B by 2030. Farmers and producers also expect the government to implement more drone-related regulations.
5. The Resurgence of Regenerative Agriculture
Regenerative agriculture aims to reduce the reliance on artificial interventions, such as chemical pesticides or soil disturbances. It enables farmers to optimise the farm’s biodiversity, boost nutritional value, and enhance soil fertility by organically nurturing plants and animals.
For example, in Germany, a group of growers, scientists, and corporate collaborators have launched Regenerative Agriculture for Climate Change Mitigation (RACCM) project. The initiative aims to showcase the advantages of regenerative farming for soil quality, carbon retention, biological variety, and the economic success of agriculture.
According to the project, a group of 20 farms in Germany implements regenerative practices, such as zero tillage, reduced tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, organic fertilizers, and agroforestry. Moreover, it gauges the effects of these methods on soil organic carbon, greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, and crop production.
This project motivates farmers to implement sustainable farming and contribute towards the nation’s environmental objectives.
As time progresses, these and other similar trends will influence the future of farmers and producers of all sizes, shaping their priorities. Most of these improvements target farming businesses’ quality, yield, and profitability, but their objective is also to improve food security and reduce environmental impact.
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