Let's get vertical




By Karli Vezina


We’ve heard talk of food prices going up over the last five to ten years but now it seems that time is here and most of us are not ready. With many of us looking at the end of a difficult year and a half, this is bad timing for rising grocery bills. To eat well is to live well and so, how do we adapt as a society?


Before turning to Soylent Green, let’s take a look at some farming innovations that could change the face of agriculture industries.


1. Higher quality seeds. Companies like East-West Seed, have been hard at work on developing higher seed quality for smallholder farms. They focus on breeding vegetable seeds that are high in nutrients and can be tailored to grow harmoniously in their local conditions. This would allow smaller farms to have larger harvests, something the big seed companies are not interested in.


2. Smart tractors. If you’re imagining a tractor on auto pilot with a napping farmer at the wheel, think again. Terms like precision agriculture, satellite farming or site-specific crop management all refer to using data, robotics and analytics to tailor the needs of each crop. Among other things, predictive farming helps with weather forecasts, soil information and pesticide use. These smart tools help farmers with a highly tailored solution to their specific issue which leads to less production wastage and more efficient farming practices.


3. Nanotechnology. Nanotechnology can help improve our food’s efficiency and also reduce the environmental impact of farming. With this microscopic tech, scientists have discovered a better way to apply pesticides to crops that don’t need so much water to disperse and hits the targeted areas more directly. Using the chemical only where it’s needed would also lead to less pesticide being used as less is wasted.


4. Cellular agriculture. Feeling like Matt Damon in The Martian yet? Cellular agriculture means products made of living cells. Food harvested from cell culture is exactly the same as food from an animal or plant, same nutrients and DNA, they are just made differently and more sustainably. We already make a lot of food this way, including milk and cheese, so why not crops?


5. Vertical farming. You won’t have to climb for your lunch, but indoor farming, or vertical farming is fast becoming the way of the future. With limited natural resources, growing produce on stacked layers of shelves with temperature controlled environments seems like the way to go. Controlling the climate also leads to fuller harvests and no need for pesticides.


With these innovative technologies on the agricultural scene, it is possible to keep eating fresh at a reasonable cost, without leaving such an environmental impact behind.