Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Indoor farming will be integral to the world’s food security

FARMING will need to shift towards indoor vertical farms and precision techniques that could make use of drones. Just as important will be the planting of drought-resistant crops and even printing meat to secure food production globally. This is according to Ernst Janovsky, senior agricultural economist at Absa, who emphasised that technology will need to be incorporated into farming practices in order to keep up with costs and supply. Speaking at an Absa Agribusiness roundtable in Centurion on Tuesday, Janovsky said population growth would create more demand for food, water and land. By 2050, the global population is expected to reach nearly 10-billion people. But Janovsky and fellow agricultural economist Wessel Lemmer said the adoption of new technology should mitigate some of the food security risks. The use of drones to determine crop yield, diseased plants and even the leaf area index of a tree in an orchard is already benefiting farmers. Lemmer said further advances in agriculture would improve productivity. Another shift in farming would be a move towards urban vertical farms within cities, to mitigate the need to transport crops from farms to where they could be sold. While the production method was already being used to grow kale and lettuce, Lemmer said it could be expanded to other crops. This method involves growing crops on shelves, ensuring that they have the optimal amount of water and light for ideal growth. Lemmer said this method allowed for 23 harvests to be planted in a year compared to the average of three produced by conventional methods...more

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