The future of farming – how innovation is transforming agriculture3 min read
The UK will have heard more on the subject of Brexit than on anything else over the last couple of years, but their understanding of it may still be a little thin on a few key issues. It’s important to combat this, as almost every major industry will be affected dramatically, including the agriculture and farming business in the UK. We have already created a simple guide on how innovation will be impacted by Brexit, which you can read by clicking here, however, this piece will dive deeper into one of the most important industries in operation.
Consider how important innovation is to agriculture after reading the following points.
- Estimates suggest our world will have another 3 billion mouths to feed by the year 2050.
- Soil loss and degradation has already cost the world 20% of its crop yield, and, if this continues, the UN posits that we only have 60 years of crop harvests.
- Many of the places wherein most of the world’s food is grown (Northern Chinese Plane, The Central US, California, North Western India) have already reached a crisis point in the groundwater levels that are vital for crop growth. The Upper Ganges aquifer is being withdrawn from at 50 times its recharge rate.
- Research in the ‘Agricultural & Environmental Letters’ journal has found that an average rise of 4 degrees in the US corn belt could reduce maize yields by between 84% and 100%.
Now, we aren’t trying to scare you. The world’s scientists have come up with these estimates, and we bring them up to emphasise the importance of current agriculture innovations, and what they mean for Britain’s future.
So, back to Brexit.
Currently, British Farmers can choose to set aside parts of their land for wildlife and conservation, receiving up to £15k for every acre. However, Brexit will be very likely to see the withdrawal of this subsidy. This means that farmers are going to have to come up with intelligent and innovative ways to utilise their land and generate additional income
Fortunately, a lot of work is being done to come up with solutions. After the 1984 election, the New Zealand government made a raft of changes in agricultural policy which had a direct impact on reducing the amount of debt farms were tied to, while increasing yields and the value of land.
Innovation and investment in agricultural technology, such as animal inspection services reducing the spread of disease, helped the entire agricultural industry. In light of this, we can see that a lot of the innovation may have to come after solid legislation is agreed upon by the British government.
Right now, there is a huge focus on diversification for British Farmers as they are looking to monetise their land, such as by building campsites and offering space for festivals.
However, the biggest technological advancement, which many hope will help abate the potential food supply crisis, is lab grown meat. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it may sound like something out of science fiction, but this technology is in full practice in 2018. Different types of meat, such as beef mince and chicken breast, can be grown from a test tube, via only a small number of cells. It will have never been alive and no animal would have had to have been fed, reared, and processed for the food to land on your plate.
According to the findings of one study, the amount of water that lab grown meat uses is 82% less than animal raised meat, and the amount of land required is 99% less.
The next agricultural revolution
For the anthropologists reading this, you will know how important the first agricultural revolution was to the success of the human race; when we turned from hunter-gatherers to farmers, thousands of years ago. What is clear is that a second revolution is needed as the population continues to explode and resources become more scarce.
Hopefully, the British government is aware of the challenges facing UK farmers and the industry as a whole because they will need all the help they can get the realities of Brexit hit.