The Next Generation Of Farming

As we Rethink Humanity, we appreciate that the next decade represents what is likely the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruption in history. By 2030, much of what we know could be completely reimagined. Something as basic as food and farming could look quite different, as the possibilities cover a wide spectrum. In the short term, we find different ways to farm, optimizing yield and improving our environment. In the long term, we likely witness the complete transformation of farming.

Let’s start with the short-term view. This recent Article describes vertical farming and its impact on the food services industry. Author Sumner Park describes vertical farming as the practice of cultivating crops in vertically stacked shelves and often in a controlled indoor environment. As with most things these days, the pandemic is accelerating the path of this emerging innovation. The article states that the coronavirus outbreak has accelerated the demand for fresh and locally grown produce. Local food production allows produce to be shipped to grocery stores, restaurants, and other dining services in a matter of minutes. Ms. Park provides a look into the growth potential:

A new report by Allied Market Research shows that the global market for vertical farming crops is projected to reach $1.38 billion by 2027 with a compounded annual growth rate of 26.2% from 2021 to 2027. Last year alone, the industry was estimated to be around $212.4 million.

Local production of food enabled by technology that consumes up to ten times less water compared to traditional approaches, can be controlled to minimize pesticides and other dangerous chemicals. The visual identifies several innovations that will completely reimagine food. It’s the long-term view however that enables the rethinking of food and agriculture.

Tony Seba and James Arbib are founders of RethinkX, an independent think tank that analyzes and forecasts the speed and scale of technology-driven disruption and its implications across society. I just finished another book from the duo titled Rethinking Food and Agriculture and added it to my Book Library. Using their disruption framework, the authors conclude the following:

Our core model runs to 2030. By then, our central scenario shows that the disruption will be irreversible but incomplete – so our analysis considers a period out to 2035 to provide a more complete picture. We focus on cattle but have extrapolated our findings to cover all livestock and the impact on arable crop farming, global agriculture, and beyond. Given the magnitude of the disruption, society should be prepared for the dramatic changes to an industry that has not seen this scale of disruption in thousands of years.

The invention of agriculture drove a tipping point that transitioned us from the hunter-gatherer era. This radical shift in food and agriculture is but one contributing factor to a Third Tipping Point. The book describes in detail how this industry will be completely transformed in less than 15 years. As I mentioned when I finished their most Recent Book, these pictures of possible futures are critically important. It is through education and awareness that we enable society to manage the transition to this third tipping point. I highly recommend the book.

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