Data Science Saves the Planet – Agri-tech is growing
AgriTech – not just the future of farming but the future of the planet – Data Science Saves the Planet.
This might sound like a dramatic title but it’s really not. Food is responsible for around 30% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, and if we don’t take action this number is predicted to grow
Agritech is not an industry that just offers convenience like personalised exercise apps. It is using Data & Technology in a way that has potential the to save the Planet from humans and keep us fed at the same time.
Companies like Vertical Futures “are looking to build a healthier sustainable future of Global Cities” by using technology to produce high-quality, ethical food in controlled environments. They also develop efficient and sustainable methods of food production and supply systems, with a long-term commitment to improving health and reducing CO2 emissions in cities.
Reversing the Bigger is Better mentality
Others Like the Small Robot company are developing robotics to replace traditional farm machinery. This is nothing new Automatic Milking machines and GPS tracking for tractors have been around since the 90’s but the technology available now has the ability to be less invasive allowing for more flexible approaches than previous generations. As the name suggests one of the main elements about them is that they are smaller than many of the machines they will replace.
So what you say. It is large machines that particularly in the UK from the mechanisation post-war continuing until today have meant that bigger is always better. Larger farms, larger fields, larger herds, all in order to gain the scale of production to meet the cost and scale of the machinery.
This has led to loss of hedgerows (affecting biodiversity) ditches (affecting flooding) and more and more use of chemicals and medicines for livestock. Increasing the cost of production but also costing the wider environment. Agriculture is the biggest cause of forest loss, meaning that our current food system is responsible for 60% of biodiversity loss worldwide.
Can Data science save the Planet?
Smaller is Smarter. Small machines allow for smaller fields to be more easily farmed and significant potential reductions in the cost of ownership.
Do you know how much a Tractor Costs?
Tractors can cost anything from £25,000 to £150,000 and prices have gone up by 42% since 2011. Whilst the number of sales per year have actually gone down, fewer larger machines, but with a high cost. Smaller machines and other versatile robotics not just doing one job like a milking machine offer a much greater level of flexibility and optimisation.
Companies including Farmbot monitoring are looking at optimising water usage using Sensors and cellular communication. Meanwhile, machine learning is being used by MIT for monitoring plants for optimal growth periods.
KFC is experimenting with 3D bioprinting Chicken, much of the food grown in fields are used to produce animals we then eat. The animals themselves and the rearing of them are also responsible for large amounts of methane and Co2
This could be the future of Meat production, it takes care of the animal welfare worries and doesn’t even require a farm. Question remain. Will this technology ever viable for production? and will people be prepared to eat it?
Let’s hope Data Science saves the Planet.
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