To feed 9 billion people by the year 2050 we know we must increase yields from existing farms, use our resources more efficiently, and reduce food chain waste – all while restricting growth of agriculture’s carbon footprint. But how?
In Monday’s opening plenary session of Alltech’s 30th Annual International Symposium in Lexington, Kentucky, Dr. Karl Dawson, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Research at Alltech, described six facets of his vision of how advances in science and technology will radically reshape our food supply chain in the years ahead:
- According to Dr. Dawson, agriculture will have a new face – with new attitudes. What if food demand in vast population centers could be met in part by futuristic, multistory, vertical, urban farms? What if drone technology could be tailored to pollenate plants or to aid in the cultivation of difficult-to-access terrain? What if agribusiness giants shared their knowledge to help local, organic farmers maximize yield?
- Agriculture will continue to harness the power of big data. Advanced monitoring technologies are changing how we look at farming practices. Nutrigenomics is generating billions of observations about how the livestock respond to nutrients at the gene level and reshaping how we feed our animals to maximize animal health and to enrich human diets. New in-vitro systems to evaluate feed materials now allow us to predict between-nutrient interactions and animal digestive response in the laboratory, slashing the guesswork out of feed formulation to maximize profit and reduce farm emissions!
- Dr. Karl Dawson went on to explain how artificial intelligence utilizing predictive models will drive the decision-making processes across the food chain. We are entering the age of arm-chair farming in which computer-based systems can weigh a multitude of variables to predict what our food will be like months down the road!
- Our standards for nutritional management of livestock will change in response to the newest scientific discoveries, altering the food supply chain. Mineral form in animal diet dictates its role in nutrition. Fat plays important roles in animal health. And carbohydrates can have key functional roles in metabolism.
- Dr. Karl Dawson shared that, “Traceability will drive the food supply chain and our use of technology as we work to ensure food chain security and to control food waste.” Expect production advances that will improve the shelf life of food.
- “We will change the way we eat.” When changes occur in the food chain, our foods change. New naturally enriched foods will offer health and wellness benefits by addressing dietary inadequacies.
Science and technology hold the answers for tomorrow’s challenges. Stay tuned!