What will the farms of 2100 look like? Will they be completely unrecognizable from the farms of today? Will they be autonomous? Will the type of crops farmers grow be similar to those we grow today or can we expect brand-new grains and vegetables to feed the ever-growing population? There’s no way to know for certain, but in this article, we take a look at current trends in farming and technology to hazard a guess about the future of agriculture.
Technology already plays a huge part in agriculture and its role on the farm will only continue to grow. Drones, telematics, crop sensors, and precision agriculture technologies all help farmers increase productivity on their land while cutting back on physical labor. Although it seems like these land technologies are already a staple on many farms, the technology is still relatively new. Much like the computer or telephone, we can expect to see better, faster, and more affordable versions of these technologies in the future.
Precision agriculture technology has been extremely popular in the past few years. This technology can do everything from monitoring, giving each plant in a crop individualized care, and efficiently dispensing water and fertilizer. Precision agriculture technology is key to reducing food waste, which may be why the industry is expected to grow to $2.42 billion by 2020. You can expect precision agriculture technologies to play a huge part in the farms of tomorrow.
Another technology we can expect in the farms of the future is swarms of tiny robots. The University of Applied Sciences in Germany is already exploring a concept called MARS, which stands for Mobile Agricultural Robot Swarms. Groups of anywhere from five to one hundred bots would plant and tend each seed’s need. This specialized care can cut down on food waste and create healthier crops.
More Mouths to Feed
According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the world population is expected to boom to 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. This means that food production is going to need to increase dramatically. With demand high, we might see an increase in people joining agriculture or large investments in farm technology to help make enough food to feed the masses.
The Changing Consumer
The American diet is evolving. Compared to the 1970s, people in modern day eat much more grains, oils, and sugars, and have cut back on dairy products, vegetables, and eggs. Just as the farmers of today had to adjust their crops for the changing times, the farmers of tomorrow will do the same.
We can predict what the consumers of tomorrow will want based off the consumers of today. The demand for organic food has steadily risen for the past decade, as well as the demand for farm to table. The consumers of today are more health-conscious than ever before and the farms of tomorrow will have to accommodate for that.
Better Fake Meat
A few years ago, fake meat looked like limp tofu “hot-dogs” that no one touched at the barbeque. Nowadays, fake meat like the Impossible Burger are similar to meat in texture and taste. As more companies compete to create a more realistic plant-based burger, we can expect more and better-tasting fake meat products.
This could create a huge shift not only in raising real meat, but also in corn and soybean production (much of which is used to feed crops).
Don’t panic, beef farmers - the number of vegetarians and vegans actually hasn’t increased much over the past few decades. This means that at least in the near future, there is still a market for real meat. The current legal battle surrounding what can and cannot be called meat could help preserve a consumer base that demands real meat.
A New Kind of Farm
Vertical farms, a type of farm where crops are grown on vertically stacked structures, may be a staple for the future of agriculture. With the population expected to boom, the ability for vertical farms to take up less room than a traditional farm could make them more popular.
They also used a tiny amount of water compared to the great outdoors.
There is no surefire way to predict the future of agriculture. We have no idea what laws, natural disasters, cultural shifts, and new technology are waiting just around the corner. However, there are plenty of clues in the farms of today that can help us predict the future of agriculture.
No matter what decade you are in, land education is key for knowing the ins and outs of the land industry. Check out RLI’s upcoming courses to stay educated and ahead of the curve when it comes to future land trends you need to know.
About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.