“It’s hard to make predictions – especially about the future”. Still, in this short piece, we will give it a go.
Casting ourselves a few years into the future, we can see what the future looks like for agriculture: the sector will need to be able to accommodate many changes, especially in terms of technological development around robotization and AI, all of which will radically alter the way we produce food.
Technology will be a big driver of this change, with robots and drones gaining increasing prominence as the agriculture sector cuts back on pesticides. In place of tractors, ploughs and combine harvesters, we will likely see more and more self-propelled machines in the fields that can harrow, sow and perhaps even harvest different crops.
In greenhouses, technological solutions will be used to ensure that cuttings are made to precise accurate sizes, that plants get the water they need – no more, no less – and that products are automatically packed to suit the customer’s wishes.
This also means that the traditional gardener must be able to control these technological installations, so greenhouse workers must in future possess superior technological skills.
With regard to plant production, we will most likely see the adoption of the emerging technology Crisper – a faster form of plant breeding based on modifying plants’ DNA to produce variants with special properties that can, for example, reduce the risk of serious disease. However, it must be ensured that the Crisper method is safe and that there is no risk of cross-pollination or contamination of ‘real’ nature outside.
The production of meat will likewise be noticeably changed, not least by more and more meat products being replaced with plant-based alternatives, as well as the increasingly widespread production of artificial meat grown from small samples of livestock DNA.
What we see, therefore, is the evolution of the traditional farmer and gardener we think of today into a more technology-centred and -driven role. It will be crucial as we move forward to ensure that workers in the agriculture sector are sufficiently prepared for these developments and provided with the necessary tools and skills to succeed in the future.