Urban, vertical and connected: what are the key trends for the future of agriculture?

According to the UN, we will be 10 billion people on Earth by 2050, while climate scientists recall during the publication of numerous reports that natural disasters are just beginning. Floods, fires or even droughts make conditions for crops and livestock increasingly complex. Yet we will have to feed these 10 billion people. How to think about the agri-food of tomorrow in light of these major challenges? Forbes has just unveiled pathways for a sector of the economy essential to human survival.

Use digital tools

After machines and fertilizers, the agri-food sector will be transformed thanks to digital tools, predicts Forbes. The first challenge lies in the field of automation: thanks to drones and robots, but also autonomous tractors, agriculture or livestock farming is becoming more efficient.

This model has already been tested in a floating farm, set up in the heart of Rotterdam. There everything is automated for maximum profitability and minimum loss. “There is the robot that picks up the manure, the conveyor belt that brings the food and the attraction: the robot for 24/7 milking says Peter Van Wingerden, the engineer behind this unprecedented project, together with his wife Minke.

Thanks to digital weather, crops can benefit from “precision agriculture”, we can still read in Forbes. In other words, it is a matter of irrigating, applying fertilizers and pesticides at a variable rate and no longer a fixed rate, all according to the needs of each crop.

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Locating and Urbanizing Agriculture

To reduce the transport of food, the challenge is to be able to reduce the kilometers between growing areas and consumers. So Forbes is betting on the trend of urban farms. Last spring, Paris moved with the times by inaugurating the largest urban roof farm in Europe.

Installed on the roof of the new pavilion 6 of the Parc des Expositions, this project aims to produce up to one tonne of fruit and vegetables per day in high season, without the slightest use of pesticides. A major challenge under the responsibility of about twenty horticulturists.

In order for crops to be completely organic, different methods are used, such as using vertical aeroponic farming to grow lettuce, radishes or even strawberries.

Photo: Shutterstock

Grow fruits and vegetables outside the fields

These vertical farming techniques applied by the urban farm on the roofs of the Parc des Expositions are precisely part of the trends Forbes. In addition to aeroponics, we can also talk about hydroponics, a method of growing plants in nutrient-rich water.

Photo: Shutterstock

Promote cultured meat alternatives

Plant-based alternatives are no longer unknown to the general public. In France, offers are piling up from manufacturers and start-ups embarking on this thriving business. Forbes also mentions so-called “cultured meat”. That is, cultured in the lab and produced from animal cells. An ethical option for those who find it hard to do without their weekly steak and chips?

Cultured meat is not yet ready to end up on the menu of your favorite restaurant. But in Singapore, sales have been allowed since 2020. What will the market open up to other countries and to Europe in the coming years?

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