Could feeding the world during COVID-19 lockdown provide answers society has sought for decades?

Keeping the world fed as the human population explodes has been a question on the lips of politicians, scientists, philanthropists, Hollywood icons and farmers around the globe for decades. In an article by Bayer, which they feel echoes the thoughts of many farmers, the solution is the automation that has been adopted to address the challenges that have arisen as a result of COVID-19.

With COVID responses closing borders, putting pay to the migrant season workforce the agricultural sector so heavily relies upon for both planting and harvesting, different solutions have needed to be sought. Human ingenuity, it seems, has stepped into the gap with farmers and the agricultural sector as a whole investing heavily in tools and technology for automation, precision agronomy methods and digital platforms to support this.

Examples seen during the COVID-19 pandemic include the planting of rice fields using drone technology, which also provides an efficient pest control solution that often requires fewer inputs. Automative planters offer incredible precision sowing of seeds and spraying capabilities at far more affordable prices than 5-years ago. While automated monitoring by ground and satellite sensors provide farmers with a range of data on variations in soil moisture, plant health, temperature and humidity throughout the growing season.

Then there is the automation of harvesting, which has been prevalent in the cereal industry for a decade by a future possibility, only recently made so, for the delicate pick and pluck fruit and vegetable sectors as a result of visionary advances in technological research and development. So as agronomical and agricultural advances rapidly advance, potentially offering the possibility of fully automated systems that improve agricultural sustainability and productivity by limiting inputs like water, pesticides, time, labour costs and potentially energy – the question remains, are we ready for it?

Photo by Luke Thornton on Unsplash