Why is There a Need For Innovation in Agriculture?
While agricultural production has been a tool for the development of civilizations for thousands of years, today’s developing technology, changing expectations and needs direct agriculture. Due to reasons such as climate change, drought, and water pollution, the number of fertile lands for agricultural production is decreasing day by day. For this reason, many countries direct their work with policies based on innovation in agriculture.
Is Innovation Necessary in Agriculture?
In today’s world, an average of 5 billion tons of food is consumed. However, it is recorded that more than 50 of 119 countries live below the poverty line. Moreover, almost a third of the food produced is wasted. While food consumption requires an increase in production by 60%, it is predicted that natural resources will not be able to meet such an increase in the near future. Productivity in agriculture is falling regularly, arable land and drinking water resources are being depleted rapidly.
It seems that not only the cultivation of agricultural products, but also their transportation, storage, conversion into food, use of raw materials, marketing, presentation and recycling will be among the biggest problems of the world of the future. Within the scope of all this information, it is clearly seen that an innovative approach, R&D studies and innovative technologies in agriculture are needed.
In the new future shaped by technology, not only how to do agriculture on earth, but also agriculture on Mars is among the agenda topics. While researching how it will be possible to farm on unproductive lands, innovations such as landless agriculture are being developed.
Technology Intensive Greenhouse
Greenhouses, where electricity, water, carbon dioxide and oxygen ratio in the air, humidity are constantly controlled, light is presented by artificial sources, and self-generating greenhouses are built on an area of thousands of square meters. With the aim of achieving high efficiency with the least resources, expenses and waste, it is also aimed to use less chemicals.
Studies aiming to develop modern greenhouse cultivation are testing whether it can be cultivated in a soilless or even lightless environment suitable for harsh weather conditions. All over the world, the achievements in the field of greenhouse cultivation, where the search for innovation continues, are on the way to become an industrial product by being tested. Every component of technology-intensive greenhouses, from greenhouse cover materials to constructions, lights, fertilizers and chemicals, is the scene of a search for innovation.
Hybrid seed and seed breeding studies constitute the results of modern agriculture’s search for innovation. With the innovations, it is aimed to make the seeds more efficient and durable. Seed varieties are being made for vegetables and fruits, which are aimed to produce higher quality and more products in a shorter time. In addition, there are studies to diversify the existing species. The search for new species to be formed by grafting different vegetables and fruits is carried out especially by producers who want to take a new place in the market.
The excitement for the discovery of new species is felt for the reintroduction of extinct species. Species that were produced centuries ago are being tried to be grown again with seed studies. Another goal of seed studies carried out with modern agricultural techniques is to ensure compatibility with unsuitable conditions. Unusual changes such as global warming, rising heat, melting glaciers, and a hole in the ozone layer are rapidly transforming the world’s conditions. In our world where the water level is changing, the climate is changing, new pests are breeding and agricultural production is experiencing rapid adaptation problems, projects on seeds are intended to create solutions to existing problems.
The system in which which product grows better in which soil and conditions is called algorithmic agriculture. Algorithmic agriculture studies, where suitable conditions are determined for optimum quality and yield in vegetables and fruits, are also among the fields of innovation applications in agriculture. With the use of efficient irrigation and spraying methods, the evaluation of different variables together and the systematic presentation of the results to our farmers, algorithmic agriculture initiatives provide answers to many questions sought in agriculture.
Developed by considering the balance of nature, natural conditions and the life cycle of animals, permaculture farming methods bring a different perspective to modern agriculture’s search for innovation. The permaculture farming method, in which organic fertilizers are part of the goal of recycling waste, explores ways to farm without disturbing the ecosystem. It is aimed to obtain natural products by repeating the original conditions of nature in permaculture forests, where the multi-layered natural area structure is imitated. One of the most important pillars of innovation studies in agriculture is permaculture farming methods, which are based on protecting nature.
One of the first items that comes to mind when it comes to innovation in agriculture is undoubtedly robots. Agricultural production stages, in which robotic technology is used, result in the establishment of robotic farms today. Robotic farms, where human labor is used much less, many agricultural processes are mechanized and continuous control is provided with the help of smart sensors, sheds light on the agriculture and livestock activities of the future. On the way, which is set out with the aim of maximum efficiency in both agricultural breeding and animal husbandry, many processes from manure removal to milking, irrigation and harvesting are carried out with machines.
Vertical Farming Units
Vertical farming in narrow areas is one of the freshest discoveries of smart agriculture. The units, in which needs such as heat, soil, light and moisture are optimized in accordance with vertical areas, share the secret of efficient agriculture even in narrow areas. Vertical farming systems, which are especially preferred by small-scale agricultural entrepreneurs and those who are interested in gardening as a hobby, are seen as one of the most important gains of innovation in agriculture. Vertical farming systems, which are an unimaginable answer to the question of where is modern agriculture evolving, can turn every balcony into a garden.
Seeking Innovation in Agriculture and the Effect of Pandemic
Along with the coronavirus epidemic, the transformation experienced in many areas of life also affects agriculture. Topics such as environmental pollution, lack of resources, self-renewal power of nature, which have been discussed in the world for years, have become a much more prominent agenda with the pandemic. Animals that started appearing in cities shortly after people retreated to their homes due to quarantine, dispersed clouds inspired humanity for many seemingly impossible points in nature. In addition, the increase in natural disasters and the rise in pollution news also coincided with this period. Moreover, while all this was going on, it turned out that agriculture was the way out for urban people who discovered gardening at home, growing vegetables on a small scale, and started to follow the trail of returning to nature. The increase in the search for natural and organic food has paved the way for a change in people’s view towards industrial products. The expectation of innovation in agriculture, which gained momentum with the effect of the pandemic, also positively affected the rate of development of innovative technologies.
What is expected from innovative agriculture today can basically be summarized in a few items. Innovative steps to be taken in these areas are expected:
- The transparency of the production process.
- Development of ancestral seed registration projects.
- Development of new and adequate fertilization techniques.
- Certification of disease and pest resistant products.
- Development of organic farming.
- Strengthening the seed banking network.
- Monitoring of production processes with barcode tracking system.
- Studying, presenting and realizing plans according to Turkey’s climate change model.
- Implementation of projects for the protection of water resources.
- Learning to live with zero waste.
- Acceptance of sustainability as a rule of life,
- Developing ways to evaluate food waste.
- High efficiency in agricultural production with less resources,
- Improving the living conditions of animals.
As a result of the changing world, technology, social awareness and needs, innovation in agriculture is gradually turning from necessity to necessity.