Today’s global agriculture has a bad reputation, it is often considered a problem rather than a solution. Desertification and loss of fertile soils, over-fertilization and eutrophication of soil and water pose high risks to biodiversity conservation and the food security. Extensive pesticide use with strong environmental impacts damage insect population and cause the death of bees. Agriculture is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
The good news is that research and industry are working on solutions – we are on the brink of a high-tech revolution in production of food, feed and biomass in the future. The goals are to achieve significantly less resource consumption at more output, which would mean to strongly increase resource efficiency. In parallel, the negative impacts on ecosystems need to be minimized – human cultivation needs to find a new harmonious way to co-exist with nature.
For the first time in history, we understand in detail how a healthy soil works, what role bacteria and fungi play in the nutrient uptake of plants and trees. We know how to achieve healthy and productive soils with biostimulants while nitrogenfixing bacteria will reduce the use of additional nitrogen. Precision farming with Artificial Intelligence (AI), robots and drones can help to fertilise and protect plants more efficiently and with lower environmental impacts. Latest gene editing technologies can improve plant ingredients and make better use of solar radiation with an updated photosynthesis system.
Marine farming means the cultivation of marine organisms for feed, food and other products in the open ocean and enclosed sections of the ocean, in tanks, ponds or raceways filled with seawater. Forestry will supply a wide range of chemicals and bio-based products in biorefineries, including environmentally friendly textile fibres.
With indoor farming in our kitchens and vertical farming on an industrial scale, healthy food can be produced efficiently and locally. Insects, algae and bacteria can be used to develop new sources of protein. Bacteria can even digest CO2 to produce feed proteins for aquaculture. Organic farming as well as smallholders will also strongly benefit from many of these new developments and increase their efficiency while respecting their original ideals and principles.