Summary

Innovation is more important in modern agriculture than ever before. The industry as a whole is facing huge challenges, from rising costs of supplies, a shortage of labor, and changes in consumer preferences for transparency and sustainability. There is increasing recognition from agriculture corporations that solutions are needed for these challenges. Major technology innovations have focused around areas such as indoor vertical farming, automation and robotics, livestock technology, modern greenhouse practices, precision agriculture and artificial intelligence, biotechnology and blockchain.

Guiding Questions:


How can innovation help farmers around the world?
How can geographical areas affect the technology available to farmers?
What can we learn from innovations in other countries?

 

6 Innovative Agricultural Practices That Are Changing the World

1. Urban Agriculture, Smart Design, and Vertical Farms

The big advantage that urban farming touts is the innovative reimagining and utilization of space. Urban farms might be as humble as your traditional, outdoor community garden. On the other hand, they might be as complex and futuristic as well-regulated, self-contained, environmentally controlled pods that are stacked on top of each other.

3. Drones

An agricultural drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle used to help optimize agriculture operations, increase crop production, and monitor crop growth. Sensors and digital imaging capabilities can give farmers a richer picture of their fields. Using an agriculture drone and gathering information from it may prove useful in improving crop yields and farm efficiency.

Agricultural drones let farmers see their fields from the sky. This bird's-eye view can reveal many issues such as irrigation problems, soil variation, and pest and fungal infestations. Multispectral images show a near-infrared view as well as a visual spectrum view. The combination shows the farmer the differences between healthy and unhealthy plants, a difference not always clearly visible to the naked eye. Thus, these views can assist in assessing crop growth and production.

Additionally, the drone can survey the crops for the farmer periodically to their liking. Weekly, daily, or even hourly, pictures can show the changes in the crops over time, thus showing possible “trouble spots”. Having identified these trouble spots, the farmer can attempt to improve crop management and production.

2. Artificial Intelligence, IoT, and Automation

4. Blockchain Technology

5. CRISPR and Genetic Editing

Commodity traders Louis Dreyfus Co. (LDC) recently completed the first blockchain-powered agricultural trade, selling and delivering 60,000 tons of soybeans to China in December 2017. This trade represents how the blockchain will likely be used in agriculture early on, with decentralized transactions and self-executing smart contracts.

“Most of the early applications of blockchain in agriculture have to do with traceability and supply chains; a blockchain ledger could record and update the status of crops from planting to harvest to storage to delivery.

6. SMART Farming

Let's Keep GROWing

Teacher Lesson Plans

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Download the lesson plan and accompanying student worksheet to engage students and challenge them to think critically about technology and innovation.

Lesson Plan Sample

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Student Worksheets

References

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