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How agriculture is reinventing itself through data and biotechnologies

Agriculture is facing many challenges ranging from environmental footprint to population growth and search for transparency from the consumers’ perspective. Today, it is transforming thanks to data analytic tools and progress made in biotechnologies.

data and biotech serve agriculture

We will be 9.7 billion by 2050. The increase in population focusing on cities are driving us to rethink the agricultural and food industry as a whole, starting with the very first link in the chain: the agricultural production.

In the meantime, agriculture faces major environmental challenges. According to the FAO, global livestock amounts to 14.5 % of greenhouse gas emissions. In the US alone, the CO2 emissions have experienced a 11 % increase since 1990. Moreover, the US agriculture is accounting for 80 % of the Nations’ water consumption (ground and surface water). According to NGO Global Footprint, we would need 2 planet Earths by 2030 in order to maintain our consumption habit. Thus, given agriculture’s current environmental footprint and restriction of resources, the sector needs to reinvent itself.

Whether animal related or crop related, the pressure on food production is paving the way for the rise of alternatives. AgTech, which relates to all innovations occurring within agriculture, and especially data driven farming, can help optimize production processes and offers the potential to empower farmers. Today, drones are a very good tool for data collection, first step leading to data analysis.

In addition, urban agriculture – indoor and outdoor farming – is coming up with a new way to supply smart cities with food products. Indeed, as it can be fully integrated to the urban landscape, it allows a local consumption of products.

Finally, a new type of agriculture is emerging in California. Based on recent progress made in tissue engineering and synthetic biology, cellular agriculture makes it possible to produce meat, eggs, dairy products but also leather and potentially all kinds of animal products from cell cultures without intensive crop and animal farming.

With this wrap-up, L’Atelier intends on showing how agriculture is reinventing itself today thanks to the data and biotechnologies tackling its current and future challenges.



Precision agriculture and Big Data: the next revolution?

By July 20, 2016
Agriculteur connecté

In 2050 planet Earth will be hosting over 9 billion inhabitants. The expected 2 billion extra mouths to feed are going to pose a real challenge for agriculture.

If everyone is going to have enough to eat in the future, agricultural production will need to increase by 70% over its current level. In other words, we will have to learn to produce more with less. How can this circle be squared?

One of the possible solutions is to make further technological progress in agriculture. Agriculture has already seen two major revolutions: the first, at the time of the industrial revolution when production was mechanised; the second was the ‘green revolution’ when pesticides and other agrochemicals were widely adopted. Now we are seeing the advent of a third revolution, one based on Big Data.

The use of data in agriculture will facilitate the switch from mass production, with its associated wastage, to optimised, customised production. When we are able to gain a better understanding of plants and animals by ‘listening’ to them via sensors, this will lead to radical change across the entire chain of agricultural production. At the beginning of the chain there will be fewer inputs – fertilisers, pesticides, even water. In mid-chain, the availability of accurate data will help farmers to take better account of the factors that have an impact on plant and animal growth – such as climate and diseases – and to plan more precisely the human resources needed to produce the foodstuffs.

At the end of the chain the aggregated analysis of all the data gathered will enable producers to predict their productivity and total output volumes, with ever-shrinking margins of error.

The use of Big Data in agriculture thus has the potential to help meet the challenge of our era: to produce more with less. We can only hope that the market will be able to adapt and seize this golden opportunity.

>> Download the Agtech Study infographics

By Nathalie Doré and Pauline Canteneur

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