For humanity to prevail, conscious agriculture emerges as the culture of life.
A Symbiotic Relationship
Agriculture today faces imminent disruption. Some due to the insisting errors of the past. Others, due to completely new opportunities created by technology. However, as humanity evolves and creates new techniques to grow food to an ever-growing population, the expansion of agricultural land has put more and more pressure on Earth.
Every day there is a new confirmation of how destructive, inefficient and wasteful the industrial agriculture machinery has become. The global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will be only a quarter of the level in 1960 (FAO), and until now, about a third of the world's soil has already been degraded at the pace in which population continuous to growth, and in this duality remains the great paradox of the 21st century: How to coax greater production of food from less land and thereby offset resource constraints?
On the other hand, technology offers hope as much as it raises concerns. First, because it offers the possibility to rebuilt environments from scratch and ways in which we can produce food. By creating the necessary infrastructure, in terms of production methods and logistic, the transport of food from the rural fields to the city are still an issue when facing the environmental matter and cost inefficiency that it causes. As a counteract, society is further expanding its ability to produce and consume in a much more efficient way. One that is connected to the needs of local customers, looking forward to environmentally friendly practices able to reduce the amount of space used to achieve high production levels, overcoming the dialectical contradiction between city and farm dueling.
Continuous Adroit Movement
In this sense, as the city becomes agrarian, farms will turn digitized. The massive use of sensors, artificial intelligence and robotics is already changing the face - and hands - of agriculture. A significant change in the labor structure of developing countries, and one which will need to be thoroughly observed and studied due to the disruptive effects it might have in public welfare altogether. All in name of greater efficiency and productive output.
Both movements "agrarian cities and digitized farms" will play out on more complex supply-chains than we have today. Dependent on various actors in different places of the world, they will need data to work properly. Data that will not only enable more drilled trade, but also include the consumer. Voluntarily or not, companies will face a demanding customer, who will have the tools to effectively audit the chain for what is considered valuable. As blockchain or more traditional regulation techniques migrate and take advantage of this constant information exchange, the easier it will be to ensure that responsible methods are being developed.
A responsibility that will stand at the top of global priorities. As errors of the past accumulate, humanity will face ever-more threatening scenarios. An agrochemical refresh will be needed to steer the industry away from its current state of over-fertilizing to more sustainable techniques to deal with the soil. A proposed approach is to enhance the effectiveness of the products available today, using nanotechnology to guarantee lesser quantities are needed to achieve the desired results.
Augmenting nature itself can also help: a “meta” approach to agriculture might ensure more sustainable production methods, as bacteria, fungi and yeast are fused with high-technology detoxify and bioremediate different environments. This approach may lead to an anti-Darwinian world, based on evolution through cooperation, rather than competition based on a living food production system in which all species, especially the responsible for the pollination of one-third of all food grown on the planet - the bee, has their role to pave a brighter future.
All of this transformations has the goal to avoid catastrophic measures, as ongoing ones which are necessary due to the fact that climate has changed. For the first time in human history, it might be strictly necessary to conduct global experiments on anthropogenic environment change. An effort that will ask for greater cooperation between countries - which might prove to be a problem, given the present conflicts on the importance. But, much beyond our capability to cooperate, such endeavour might put humanity’s power over nature in check, as we discover its near-unavoidable unintended consequences.
Far Beyond Earthbound
Making the ultimate move, if hope cannot ensure our survival on this planet, technology could offer a way out. Not merely metaphorical, but a literal one. As we develop as a civilization and head up to the space, we will need a plethora of techniques to help us settle in another planet. By using different terraforming techniques, future generations will be able to completely manipulate the climate and geography of a certain planet. Making it as cold or as hot as we like, different possibilities will open up. We might want to live there, and we might just want to create the right conditions for a certain resource to be obtained. After we have discovered and manufactured our new home, a whole range of space agriculture practices will be deployed to enable humanity to thrive somewhere else in the universe.
The world is changing and so does the way we perceive food. Flavor, shape, color… All currently known food-related features might change in a few decades, creating emergent global patterns of diet and productive mechanisms. We have the opportunity to do it now in a different way, respecting both environment and culture. As society is adapting to become more modernized, history has shown us the importance of respecting some principles in order to prevail longevity and long-term thinking. New solutions are coming to light that hint at how we might achieve a re-coded humanity, thus challenging the status quo and helping to shape a newly society that aligns with their ethical standpoint, making this world (or others) a better place for everyone to perdure and unfold.
The interactive visualization that you're about to see, aims to be a tool for drawing scenarios for the future of the agriculture industry, In order to do that, we have mapped dozens of emerging technologies related to the subject, and analysed them according to their readiness level, providing a picture on their current stage of evolution. Altogether, we intent to open new perceptions all over imminent agriculture improvements responsible to assist this unique, intelligent and autonomous world to reach the expansion of humanity itself.
Envisioning is a virtual research institute. We provide technological foresight to policy and decision makers worldwide. Our global team of academics, hackers and designers study technology to understand accelerating change. We share our work with our own tools, methodology and design.