With the world’s population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, experts say it will require a 70% increase from our current levels of global food production. As we try and find ways to bridge this intimidating gap, agritech's many applications may be the solution. Agritech investment has grown consistently and significantly, reaching a high in 2020-21 with growth of 61.4% equaling $11.3bn. So, what trends can we see emerging from this expansion?
Internet of things (IOT)
IOT refers to connecting multiple devices to the internet, and to each other, to make an integrated network and system that can work in synchronisation. This has excellent applications within agritech as farmers have multiple inputs that affect decisions e.g. from climate sensors that can be connected to an irrigation system for precise water application to robot pickers inputting harvest data to create supply reports. As agriculture is so multifaceted it makes sense to integrate appliances, right?
Barn4 member Piatrika Biosystems is building a platform that will bring more sustainable seeds to market faster, integrating autonomous phenotypic, temporal and spatial data capture with their genomic discovery platform for more accurate analysis.
With a labour shortage and the demand for food ever increasing, many farmers are turning to robotics to reduce costs and increase precision and efficiency. Robots have developed in several areas: harvest, data collection, weed removal and applying chemicals. With technology improving constantly it is likely that the role of robots within farms will only increase.
Our Barn4 member Antobot specializes in small lightweight autonomous robots designed to undertake various short-cycle repetitive tasks on the field and deliver comprehensive per plant data to farmers at an affordable price.
Vertical farming is growing crops in vertically stacked layers inside. This saves space, optimizes plant growth and reduces the amount of water and nutrient resources they require. As climate change continues its impact on farming, the offer of climate regulated and disease proof growing conditions is an attractive one. The investment in the technology, space and practice of vertical farming are all increasing.
Barn4 member Zero Carbon Farms builds and operates Controlled Environment Farms, their first working farm is in Clapham, London, in a disused air raid shelter some 33 metres underground. From there they have been supplying retail and restaurants for the past five years.
Data has always been important in agriculture from picking the best varieties to choosing the exactly the right time for harvesting and planting. The collation of large data sets, which both assists and is assisted by robotic development, is enabling the easy monitoring and prediction of changes. Software and AI platforms allow farmers to collect, analyse and apply their data to make informed decisions. This can range from yield predictions based on historical country wide data on different cropping conditions, to geographical information systems to analyse soil data with satellite imagery.
Barn4 member Petiole have developed an app using machine learning to phenotype plants, from leaf area to chloroplast measurement, all in a smartphone app.
Biotechnology refers to scientific techniques to improve and alter organisms. Currently the
Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill is being debated within the UK parliament, if approved this bill would allow much more freedom in research and the market for genetically engineered organisms. The ability to make crops genetically prepared for climate change, pests and disease is invaluable and has applications in genetic modification, vaccines, tailored chemical applications and much more.
Agritech is a rapidly expanding sector with the above just a few of the long list of growing areas. If your agritech business needs help in accessing these developing markets, contact Barn4 to see what we can do for you and your agritech business.