In this present day and age, agriculture faces one of its biggest challenges — feeding a growing population. It is estimated that the world’s population will grow to about 10 billion people by 2050. With so many more mouths to feed, one can almost say that the appetite for food is voracious. Scientists, researchers and farmers alike are thus finding the urgent need to increase crop yields to meet the demand.
Using Technology to Help Farmers
At the forefront of modern farming is technology. Without science and the advancement of technology, farming and crop production would never have been revolutionised or improved. Thanks to technology, farming practices have been made easier and more productive. This helps in producing and harvesting more crops within a shorter time frame.
The goal of modern agriculture is to use technology to increase its efficiency while reducing the amount of natural resources such as water, land, energy to meet the world’s demand for food. Just like how digital tools have made it easier for us to understand and make decisions, farmers can now rely on such tools to help them in their faming.
Running a farm is no small feat. With new software and complex algorithms, farmers are now able to pinpoint places where seeds are most likely to thrive and grow. They can also anticipate and address issues before they become problems. Technology has also made farming more precise. In fact, farmers can now even measure the exact amount of water and other resources needed to grow food.
When it comes to the weather, science and technology are now able to give detailed data and forecasts. This radically impacts farming decisions, such as choosing to water a field or waiting for the rain instead.
Farmers are even using Global Positioning System (GPS) to pinpoint problematic crops suffering from drought, diseases or insects. This saves them time and allows them to channel their energy to looking after the crops that need more attention. In short, gaining knowledge through technology leads to sustainable farming, an important factor to consider as the world’s population grows.
Modern Farming Methods
There are a host of new farming methods, with many more to come in the future. In the limelight of modern farming is Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). This is defined as any organism having its genetic material altered in a way that does not occur naturally. It allows one to almost ‘pick and choose’ selected genes to be transferred from one organism to another.
For example, some plants are developed using GM organisms to improve crop protection. Currently, there are plant diseases caused by insects or viruses. These plants are unable to fight off these diseases and as a result, many crops die. But, using GM organisms can increase these plants’ resistance to the diseases, thus giving the crops a fighting chance to survive.
Other methods include hydroponics, aquaponics and urban rooftop farming.
Hydroponics is the growing of plants without soil, or in an aquatic-based environment. In hydroponics, plants are grown using mineral nutrient solutions in water.
Aquaponics is the combination of raising fish and hydroponics to form one entire system. The fish waste is food source for the plants, while the plants naturally filter the water for the fish. Urban rooftop farming is a relatively new concept that is fast gaining popularity. Also called 'rooftop gardening', the space can be allocated for small-scale agriculture, which can be a source of local food production.
The future of feeding a hungry population is not as far off as we think. As practices and technology continue to evolve, we need to be committed to caring for the land. It is also only right that we learn to understand the needs of the land and learn to anticipate future needs. This way, we can secure the future of many generations to come.