Paid Post – Agriculture’s New Apps: Innovation to Feed the World | FT Rethink Sustainability

There will be 9 billion people on the planet
by 2050 and to feed them will require a 50% increase in agricultural production …. For millennia, farmers have fed the planet.
But population growth, climate change and over-farming have drastically changed the
industry. Agriculture now consumes 70% of global freshwater
resources. Over-fertilisation, meant to enhance a crop’s
chance of success, has degraded the Earth’s land and is responsible for major waterway
disruptions, such as this dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that stretches more than 6000
miles across. Modern farms are starting to embrace precision
agriculture to ensure growth without harming the environment.
It’s a market predicted to be worth 14.1 billion dollars by 2026. Companies such as Yara, based in Norway, are
helping farms to use data to be more efficient. This water sensor measures the tugor pressure
of the leaf, essentially the blood pressure of the plant. The data is sent directly to
the central portal which interprets the information and makes a recommendation. Yara claim this can save up to 20% of water. When we talk about making farming more sustainable,
one of the premises is to grow more, or the same, with less imputs. And we have a suite
of solutions that take geospatial data, weather data, the soil reality, the practices that
the farmer has, and help the farmer really find out how much nutrition to put when and
where on the field. When exploring what really matters for small holder farmers, so those
farmers in Africa and Asia that have a very small piece of land. What they tell us very
often, it’s the weather. So together with IBM, we have actually launched ‘Farm Weather’.
‘Yara Farm Weather’ which is a solution that helps farmers find exactly the right weather
insights and agronomic advice for their farm. The number of precision agriculture installations
has increased to 75 million, up from 30 million over the past few years. We’re talking artificial Intelligence, we’re
talking handling terabytes of data every second, we’re talking about the ‘Internet Of Things’
connecting all tractors in the world. If we can improve farming output per field, we can
reduce the amount of land that is needed for the food that we need to produce and thereby
reduce carbon emissions, create natural habitats create carbon sinks and increase biodiversity. Farms that have embraced precision agriculture
have seen yields rise, energy costs drop and water use fall. Digital farming is a global opportunity. Sustainable
business development today means of course building a business that is viable but at
the same time it has to serve a higher purpose, doing business with a purpose.

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