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Where Is Food Production Heading in the Future?

Tue, 31 July 2018

In this blog Innovate UK discuss three ways that food production could be different in the future.
The way we produce food in the future will be vastly different to our current methods. New technologies will allow us to implement more efficient, sustainable and cost-effective strategies when yielding crops and farming livestock.
These new innovations will allow us to optimise our approach to certain aspects of the process.
Due to our rising population, which is estimated to hit 10 billion people by the year 2050, resources will become strained, especially food products. Innovations in the way we produce our food, which is both sustainable and environmentally friendly, will help accommodate the population rise.
Beyond providing for larger numbers of people, we can cater the food to specific demands, whether they be lifestyle or health-related. All in all, our future will consist of better, sustainable and more affordable food for us to enjoy.
Here are the key areas where food production is heading in the future.

Optimised Farming
Technology will allow us to optimise our farming processes to make our food production more sustainable and efficient.

One big move forward will involve remotely monitoring both crops and livestock. It could potentially progress to the point where people don’t even need to be present in the field. Instead, self-driving tractors will have pre-written GPS routes that are optimised for the most efficient routes. This will alleviate any issues from soil erosion or compaction.
Livestock farming will operate in a similar way, wherein the animals’ diets and fertility can be remotely monitored. This creates healthier and more productive livestock, and reduces their mortality rate significantly.
Vertical Farming
Alongside automated efficiency, new processes such as vertical farming aim to subvert the conventional standards of farming in order to produce better results. Crops will be kept in controlled environments and given just the right amount of nutrients, light, water and heat.
They’ll be harvested as soon as they’re in peak condition, with some leafy salad and herb crop even grown all year round.
Not only can the crop conditions be controlled to a high level of precision, but the actual farming conditions can be altered. What this means is that farming doesn't have to be confined to fields. Instead, we can start yielding crops in unconventional environments, such as cities. 
One start-up in particular focussed on bringing affordable food production to city areas is LettUs Grow. LettUs Grow offer hardware and software services. Their aeroponic hardware uses a fine mist to water crops, allowing greater oxygenation of the roots, better flavour and faster growth. Their software services can optimise individual plant conditions as well as the overall farm. 
Farmers can use hydroponics to farm crops without using soil – instead, nutrient-filled water (which is both clean and recyclable) will be used. Not only will this be more environmentally friendly and efficient, but crop yields will increase significantly and become more affordable compared to traditional farming.
For example, Phytoponics offers a hydroponic growing system using deep water culture, where plants are held in water and fed a nutrient solution. Their automated system is easily adaptable, and the entire setup can be transported and set up with ease.
Food Editing Technology
Not only will there be more food to account for the higher demand, but that same food can also be catered to the demands of the population.
For example, North America and Europe have seen a higher demand for alternative protein sources. Innovations in food processing mean we can provide these protein sources, but also widen the appeal so that traditional meat eaters will find it palatable.  
Gene-editing tools will also provide added health benefits. Allergens can be removed from certain foods, while entirely new crops can be created to improve heart activity and manage diabetes.
This is extremely significant, as we won’t have to deal with the limitations of certain foods and their natural properties. Instead, we can alter those properties to better benefit us and what we need at any particular time.
Our Future and Food
Everything outlined above will optimise our food production to bring us more food, all of which will be healthy and affordable.
Farming conditions everywhere will be improved, as the process will become more efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Food production won’t be confined to specific areas, and new technologies will allow for fine-tuned crops and healthier livestock.
All of these qualities are beneficial to both the consumer and the environment as a result.
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