With global population continuing to rise, there is now also the need to increase farming output. This has become quite a challenge for farmers and manufacturers alike, whose crop and packaged food production must continue to keep up with demand.
By some estimations, world population is expected to approach 10 billion people by 2050. Moreover, Earth is gradually losing arable land, which means that in a matter of 30 years, farmers must produce roughly 70 percent more food than they are currently delivering—but with the same amount of resources they have to work with today. Add to this the continuing problems of global warming, more volatile climate conditions, and severe precipitation and drought patterns—all of which combine to form a very real threat to food security that could impact us not just on a regional level, but all over the world.
Fortunately, technology has been empowering growers and manufacturers with cutting-edge methods and approaches designed to maximize their available resources, increase productivity, and create sustainable farming conditions. Here are five innovative solutions currently being implemented by the agricultural industry to help ensure global food security.
Aerial spectral imaging
On the ground, farmers can observe only so much. However, thanks to aerial spectral imaging, they can now have eyes in the sky to help them manage year-round crop production more accurately and more efficiently. In using aerial spectral imaging for detecting crop health issues, farmers are able to analyze soil fertility and irrigation conditions, identify pest and disease problems, optimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and estimate crop yield—all through technology centered on manned aircraft equipped with specialized camera systems that capture images at specific wavelengths. As a result, growers can readily identify problem areas on their farms and use real-time information to quickly devise a plan to address those issues.
As the term indicates, this technology involves crops literally grown one on top of the other. Aside from the unorthodox farming layout, vertical farming’s primary innovation is producing vegetables in a fully controlled setting, usually without sunlight or soil, and using approximately 95 percent less water. Furthermore, this technology even has the capability to control various characteristics of a vegetable—from shape and size to color and taste.
Biological pest control
This method is gaining popularity as a viable alternative to using chemicals because it’s safer for people, more cost-effective for farmers, and very friendly to the environment. Biological pest control replaces pesticides and poisons with biological controls—such as a parasite or a pest’s natural predator—to disrupt and, eventually, eradicate pest populations. Plus, biological pest control also reduces our risk of being exposed to hazardous materials, nurtures plant and animal ecosystems, and makes good use of natural resources.
Because the earth is running out of arable land, rooftop farming is an excellent way to address this issue. This method is designed to deliver immediate environmental benefits: maximizing use of limited space in urban areas, increasing crop production to feed a growing urban population, preventing potential sewage problems due to storm water runoff, controlling pest populations, and conserving energy.
Due climate change, many crop-growing regions around the world are increasingly at risk from heat waves and overall hotter temperatures. To help overcome this problem, agricultural scientists have developed genetic traits that not only increase a crop’s resistance to heat, but also its yield—even in extremely hot conditions.
Despite the many challenges they are currently facing—and imminent ones on the horizon—farmers and manufacturers fortunately have the benefit of technological tools at their disposal. They must harness the use of these innovations if they are to guarantee the immediate success of their business, as well as develop optimal crop production that ensures the long-term survival of generations to follow.