The demand for food across the world is rising. There are roughly 7.3 billion people populating the earth—quadruple the global population a century ago. This rapid growth has led to a more pressing need for food and sustainable food sources, with food demand expected to rise to 98% in the years to come.
However, sustainable agriculture alone will not be enough. Agricultural markets need to adapt and evolve to accommodate this demand for food. Farmers will need to increase the number of crops they grow and produce. This requires advancements in agricultural technology, which will help civilizations move beyond sustainable agriculture into regenerative agriculture.
Agricultural Technology Today
Historically, agriculture has been one of the most prevalent and significant industries in the United States. Agricultural technology is predicted to hit $32.50 billion in the United States by 2027, and more and more companies are turning towards developing efficient and effective agricultural technologies.
There are several key factors driving the growth of the agricultural technology market. This includes the heightened need for modern techniques for agriculture, livestock monitoring apparatus and technologies, and growing demand for food across the globe. Currently, Israel, Australia, and the United Kingdom are leaders in the agtech sector, particularly because of the number of agtech-dedicated startups within these countries.
The most prevalent agricultural technologies today are technologies for livestock monitoring, building smart greenhouses, precision farming, and fish farming.
When looking at the state of the global agtech market, it is classified as moderately fragmented. This means that while there are several major players in this industry, there is no particular entity with the ability to move or direct the market towards a particular direction.
However, while agtech is growing, it is not growing as rapidly as one would expect. This is perhaps because of the high level of investment required prior to getting into the agtech industry, which may not be ideal for smaller businesses and farmers. Additionally, smart farming tools are quite expensive, which hinders the growth of the global agtech market.
Sustainable vs Regenerative Agriculture
Sustainable and regenerative agriculture are often interchanged or mistaken for one another, but these two types of agricultural methods have key differences.
Sustainable agriculture is an umbrella term for various agricultural practices and techniques that aim to make the land more resilient and sustainable. Sustainable farming often focuses on developing solutions for soil fertility, waste management, pest control, and crop management.
Regenerative agriculture, on the other hand, focuses on technologies that promote overall soil and environmental health, which will help restore and renew the land for farming. For example, regenerative agriculture technologies collect and process the carbon in the soil, which helps in nourishing crops.
Regenerative farming focuses on enriching biodiversity and creating structures that enhance the ecosystem as a whole. By focusing on the whole rather than some parts, the overall farming system is improved and optimized.
As mentioned, demand for food is rapidly rising, so more efficient and effective solutions are necessary for a better overall farming experience. Sustainable agricultural technology is no longer enough, particularly because sustainable agricultural practices tend to promote the usage of conventional farming methods. This, in the long run, could be harmful to the soil and the crops, threatening the livelihood of farming communities.
Oftentimes, it seems like one can only choose between being environmentally friendly or earning a profit from farming. Regenerative agricultural systems break away from the conventional methods and mindsets of farming by developing methods that are both profitable and good for the environment because it addresses all points of the farming system.
Regenerative agricultural systems restore lands’ productivity levels and help farmers generate more revenue. In the long run, this will be more beneficial for society because it helps the overall farming system improve and address the demand for food. According to the Rodale Institute, developing, pursuing, and implementing more regenerative agricultural technologies would help sequester over 100% of human carbon emissions.
The Future of Agtech
Regeneration International, a non-profit organization dedicated to regenerative farming, has been strategizing how to best scale regenerative farming practices to become the norm. The farming industry is worth trillions of dollars, and the methods, technologies, and practices used are more harmful to the planet and could be disastrous in the long run.
Currently, the organization has over 400 affiliates across 60 countries. Through their research, discussions, and strategizing, they have established several key factors that hinder the agriculture industry from fully pursuing regenerative agriculture: grassroots consciousness, control of monopolies, and degenerative farming methods that have been established as the norm.
However, all is not lost. Since regenerative agricultural technologies are poised to be the next big thing in the agricultural technology industry, many companies own and have filed patents to develop such technologies. Maronne Bio Innovations, EcoSmart, and Ethicon have filed 69, 67, and 62 patents, respectively, for regenerative agricultural technologies, while Cilag Gmbh International, Ethicon, and Ethicon Endo-Surgery own 81, 80, and 52 patents, respectively.
Israel has contributed many new technologies to greener farming. BioBee and Groundwork BioAg, for example, are two tech companies leading the way in regenerative agricultural technologies.
BioBee is dedicated to promoting natural pollination, developing biologically-based pest management systems, and creating fruit fly management systems. Groundwork BioAg specializes in developing Rootella, their key product made from mycorrhizal fungi. This product minimizes the need for water and fertilizer while boosting crop quality and yield.
These two companies have been instrumental in enhancing Israeli farming systems as a whole because they make crop production more efficient and reduce the need for chemical substances in growing crops. If more companies develop solutions like these that not only promote eco-friendly farming methods but also promote revenue growth for farmers, regenerative farming will take over as the dominant farming system.
Judging by the trends in patent filing and technology development, it appears likely that regenerative agricultural technologies will continue to grow in the coming years. Regenerative systems, once implemented, will be able to take over sustainable agricultural technologies and become the dominant farming system.
Regenerative farming systems would be better positioned to address food and water insecurities and farmers would be able to optimize the way they grow and produce crops and promote better long-term benefits for their lands.
Sustainable agricultural practices are currently taking over conventional farming methods, but these will both be overrun by regenerative agricultural technologies in the future.
We can predict that more tech companies will be focused on regenerative farming solutions in the long run, making the agricultural technology sector more profitable and diverse in the years to come.