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THE FUTURE IS FARMED

Agtech innovations are bolstering modern farming

The area of farming has met—and embraced—today’s preeminent tech in an effort that has and will continue to supercharge this millennium-old practice. Boasting capabilities that harvest crop-to-crop data and employ artificial intelligence to generate insights, these new agtech innovations have become vital for today’s farmers, who in the very near future will need to produce about 70% more food to meet the need of the growing global population, which is on track to increase by 2.2 billion people by 2050.

ALPHABET'S MINERAL

Google’s parent company Alphabet has unveiled its latest X labs project. Called Mineral, this robotic buggy inspects crops to generate data that will digitize agriculture and ultimately make farming techniques more data-driven to better meet the needs of today’s tech-enabled world. This plant buggy travels entire fields without pause, inspecting and measuring each plant to gather information that will allow for individual, location-based crop adjustments. Tech like this shows great promise for a more sustainable food supply chain in the near future, as farmers will know where exactly to mete out certain resources, ultimately leading to a more successful harvest.

MICROSOFT'S FARMBEATS

Microsoft’s FarmBeats program is the tech behemoth’s solution to strengthening the agricultural sector, despite the many natural and manmade obstacles this vertical faces each year. The data-driven project helps drastically improve farming techniques while reducing resource usage. The project’s data is farmed from drones, local farm computers, and the farmers themselves, and fed into the Azure IoT Suite, a cloud-based storage space. There, the data is analyzed with the help of machine learning techniques, turning the numbers into useful and actionable insights. The process removes most of the guesswork traditionally associated with the farming industry, which is key for successful crop growth and yield.

VERTIVEGIES

VertiVegies is an indoor vertical farm that utilizes precision-controlled farming technology to produce sustainably grown food in land-scarce Singapore. The company grows a range of plants and vegetables in a vertical, indoor environment using stacked bins filled with a hydroponic solution (an alternative to soil), and LED lights that replace natural sunlight. The resulting produce is safe and nutritious, and cultivated using less space, time, and natural resources. For Singapore, having this innovative farming technology lessens reliance on imported food, which accounts for 90% of its supply and costs around $10 billion yearly.