Our agrosystems are facing major challenges
There will be more than ten billion people on earth less than 30 years from now – about 2.4 billion more than today. Agricultural production has to increase drastically in order to feed all people around the world.
Simultaneously, more and more people are leaving the country for the city: According to UN calculations, more than seven billion out of an estimated total of ten billion people will live in metropolitan areas by the year 2050. That is almost equal to today’s world population.
Other uncertainties faced by agriculture include geopolitical instability and economic isolation. Trade conflicts are already influencing the availability of agricultural products today.
The land areas available for agriculture are limited and actually decreasing, for example due to soil erosion or salinization. With the effects of climate change, the risk of crop failures due to extreme weather such as flooding and drought increases as well.
Today’s agricultural production is under the magnifying glass as one of the causes of climate change – with its considerable greenhouse gas emissions – and due to its high resource and land consumption. Even though agricultural production is currently contributing to environmental and climate problems, it also has great potential for establishing itself as an innovative sunrise industry.
Visionary approaches for the future of agricultural production
Making agricultural production sustainable is one of the key tasks for humanity in the 21st century.
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) initiated the Agricultural Systems of the Future funding initiative to research and test possible scenarios for the future of agriculture.
Since 2019, the BMBF has been subsidising a total of eight research consortia with a total of nearly 43 million euros to develop cross-disciplinary alternative approaches over the next five years.
Merely optimising existing processes is not sufficient to meet the tremendous challenges of the future. New and in part unconventional approaches for the future of agricultural production are thus being pursued in the consortia.
In terms of agriculture 4.0 and corresponding bioeconomic principles, smart and high technology, artificial intelligence (AI), digitalisation and resource-efficient closed energy and material cycles play a central role. The consortia are examining alternative production systems extending from the rural to the urban space.