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A Tale As Old As Time: (Sustainably) Feeding The Planet


Scott Fuller

Vice President of Business Development, Growing Innovations

I love a good parable. I once worked at Disney, after all.

But when it comes to the cascading challenges of how to sustainably feed the planet, this story doesn’t unfold like a fairy tale.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations says we’re now experiencing the fourth wave of agricultural innovation, called Digital Agriculture. The first three waves of innovation date back to the 1700’s: Mechanization, Ag Chemistry, and, more recently, Precision Farming.

Even with such significant agricultural advancements, today’s current farming methods will not be sufficient to feed an estimated population of 10 billion by 2050, nor achieve what the United Nations has identified as the four pillars of food security: availability, access, utilization, and stability.

Adding to these headwinds is the fact agriculture is not known as an industry that traditionally embraces change. Moreover, farming is a messy business: heavily subsidized, highly regulated, and complicated, which means our future agricultural solutions won’t come from the entrenched ways we are currently doing things. They will require high-impact innovation.

Growing Innovations

Enter GROWING INNOVATIONS 2019, a unique forum that is pioneering and accelerating global agricultural solutions by bringing together some of the leading minds and key stakeholders in specialty agriculture.

Following a successful launch in 2018, Growing Innovations will return to Las Vegas on Nov. 13 and 14, convening agricultural thought-leaders, major growing operations, and innovative solution-providers in a unique conference format that is changing the agricultural paradigm for solving our growing food crisis.

While most discussions that address the issue of food security focus on the importance of commodity crops like wheat, corn, soybeans, and rice, Growing Innovations addresses the important role that high-value specialty crops like vegetables, fruits, and nuts play in delivering the critical nutritional elements of a healthy, balanced diet.

The conference takes an in-depth look at the new technologies, innovative companies, and breakthrough ideas that are helping growers adapt to today’s pressing farming challenges. 

Growing Innovations is also helping facilitate connections between traditional corporate agri-businesses and emerging agtech start-ups to help advance specialty agriculture around the world.

New wave

Whether you call it Precision Ag, Digital Farming, Precision Farming, or AgTech,  they all describe the next wave of agricultural innovation that growers are beginning to embrace. And in the challenging and evolving farming environment specialty agriculture producers face, there is a need for more collaborative efforts between growers and solution-providers that will:

  • Result in more effective and strategic decisions to better manage resources, and increase ROI
  • Optimize growing practices to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and increase yields
  • Foster innovative partnerships that can improve financial and environmental performance across the entire specialty agriculture value chain.

The Growing Innovations Conference aims to share best practices and case studies for scaling disruptive technologies across five key areas of the next wave of agricultural innovation: 

  • Labor Management: Farm robotics, drones, mechanization, and automation
  • Water Management: Precise and effective use of limited water resources through monitors and sensors
  • Crop Management: Crop protection and nutrition through satellite imagery, IoT, and big data
  • Post-Harvest/Processing/Supply Chain Logistics: Blockchain for food safety, traceability, transparency
  • Farm Management: Pulling it all together through data-enabled agriculture solutions.

With the advent of even newer technologies, such as computer vision systems, machine learning, and deep neural nets, Growing Innovations foresees a future where growers and innovative solution-providers will increasingly work side by side to help create the farm of the future — capable of sustainably feeding a growing world population. 

The future of agriculture is looking very promising. Maybe promising enough for a fairy tale ending after all.

Scott Fuller, Vice President of Business Development, Growing Innovations, [email protected]

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