Agriculture is the world’s most important industry.

Agriculture is the biggest industry in the world, employing a billion and a half people. It has done an incredible job at providing food for world’s population. Without the great innovations it has undergone ever since the first tractor plowed a field and the great work of the men and women driving them, to modern digital technology development with a great focus on sensors and robotics.
Agriculture has changed course many times and always in a pursuit of higher yields.
If we go back through time, just a bit, then we can see how we got here today, to a point where we must change habits to more beyond sustainable ones, to regenerative ones.

Agriculture has changed course many times and always in a pursuit of higher yields.

If we go back through time, just a bit, then we can see how we got here today, to a point where we must change habits to more beyond sustainable ones, to regenerative ones.

1900s: Industrial Revolution: Mechanization allowed yields to go up, and more land to be efficiently used for cultivation. The farms increased in size, fertilizers and pesticides came into use and increased yield provided the food necessary for quickly growing population. During 1940s 3 billion people were fed – it worked!

However, this revolution did not come without its problems, such as the famous – or rather infamous – DDT, an organochlorine insecticide introduced for sales as agricultural and household pest control in US in 1945. Scientific studies proved that DDT was highly carcinogenic and had an adverse effect on wildlife and biodiversity. But it wasn’t banned until 1972 by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

1960s: The Green Revolution: Fostered by scientific discoveries of new high-yield varieties and varieties resistant to diseases, as well as technological advances in pesticides, chemical fertilizers and heavy machinery, agriculture the way we know today came into being. It significantly increased the efficiency and output of agriculture and helped countries such as Mexico become self-sufficient, but wasn’t ”green” in the sense of environmentally sensible. The leading scientist behind this revolution was a plant breeder and pathologist Dr Norman Borlaug, who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 1970.

These innovations have not been without a cost. 

While these were great innovations, these revolutions lead to practices that had some unintended consequences and ultimately:

1) weren’t good for the environment, 2) weren’t good for us as consumers, and arguably 3) haven’t been very good for farmers’ profitability either. They end up spending all their money paying pesticides, chemical fertilizers and expensive varieties of seed, giant tillers and combines.

This time, agriculture will change its course again in the pursuit of higher yields and a smaller environmental footprint.

 

The era of agricultural revolution is now.

Nowadays, agriculture is facing many challenges. By 2050 there will be an estimated 9.1 billion people on Earth, which is 34% more than today. Ongoing environmental concerns, climate change and disruption of biodiversity will require new technologies and interdisciplinary approach to tackle problems in such complex systems as agriculture is.

Collaboration of both agricultural experts with in-depth knowledge and experience in applied research, and technologists with expertise in new fields such as microfluidics, information technologies and software development are needed, to work on novel agro-bio-technological solutions. Just like in life, diversity and inclusion will bring the strength to the system. Only a strong, diverse system can establish a harmony or the much sought equilibrium.

~ 1950s: Integrated Pest Management, IPM  

Somewhat along the line of the aforementioned revolutions, during 1950s the concept of Integrated Pest Management, IPM, was introduced with the mission to maintain the equilibrium between the different species within the agricultural ecosystem using a holistic approach.

The key is to bring as much diversity as possible into the system, to avoid the risk of one pest, disease or weed dominate the whole system.

The IPM system involves monitoring and prediction of pest outbreaks and decision support where (bio)pesticides are used only when pests reach the economic threshold level when they can cause economic injuries to plants. In this way, (bio)pesticides are used only when there is a need for it. The IPM system considers the environment as a whole and it includes management of resistant forms of pests.

Digital farming tools should follow the holistic approach of IPM

and integrate with each crop in a meaningful way,

for each climate and requirements within every country.

 

Current status of the agricultural systems: We have a problem. 

A big asset in the fight to improve precision farming and reduce overuse of chemical pesticides has been the technology boom. Everything from prediction models based on degree days, to affordable and better sensors, drones, cameras and satellites have been used in farming to various levels. These tools are valuable to farmers but there are still some issues surrounding them:

1.When farmers use several digital platforms i) each covers only a specific area, and ii) there is no communication between the platforms.

The systems within agriculture need to be more interconnected. In this way farmers will have a full overview of their farming operations, giving better time management and economic value. Most importantly however, this integration will open the door for more sustainable solutions, such as the increase of biocontrol in IPM.

  1. Farmers are overwhelmed with data. Data companies provide farmers with tons of data they don’t have time to look at. Should farmers leave farming to analyze data? How should they analyze that data? Which statistical method or mathematical model should they use? We should allow farmers to do what they really love; farming.
  2. Finally, what does all that data mean? Even if the farmer analyzes all the collected data, it doesn’t provide actionable information. Where’s the information that will direct the farmer towards the most environmentally and economically optimal solution(s)?

Fauna Smart Technologies: finding the long lost equilibrium between the species in the world of pesticide overuse

First and foremost, we’re using agricultural know-how based on research, extension, farmer’s experience, we communicate and we listen. When we have rounded the agricultural part then we talk with technologists about the needs and what is possible and what is not. Only then, we start building meaningful products around agricultural know-how. We know it is about diversity and inclusion that make systems powerful and long lasting.

In Fauna Smart-tech system we can use drones as tools for real-time, field inspection of pest species present.

Fauna Smart Technologies is taking sustainability to a higher level by developing The Knowledge Database from where we extract solutions: based on extensive scientific literature and several research databases. It promotes resistance management as an integral part of IPM that is essential for sustainable pest control. It also accommodates for every country and even region, and we customize it crop by crop.

For example, The Knowledge Database we did for Denmark is for apples and pears, and it consists of all available/approved (bio)pesticides for targeted insect-pests in apple and pear orchards, as well as pest forms resistant to certain agrochemicals, manufacturer’s LD50 as well as lower LD50 that is scientifically proven as equally efficient as the manufacturer’s. Furthermore, we also provide information about sub-lethal effects for pests and surrounding beneficial organisms.

When it comes to solutions – software recommends farmers to use conventional pesticides in a manner that takes the build-up of resistant pests and environmental impact into consideration, as well as recommendation of biopesticides and biocontrol agents as solutions, separately or in combination when these are a good option.

For bio-based solutions, we provide the best platform for effective use of biocontrol agents, biopesticides, and integration of biocontrol in IPM.

 

How can we afford diverse solutions within a field?  

Thorough in-field investigation makes this possible, with real-time mapping of pest risk levels. When drone scans, software analyzes pest populations and users are informed about the levels of pest risk in a tested field.

Fauna User Map will display targeted zones within a field that are represented as green (healthy), orange (at risk) and red (high risk).

Each of these zones come with different environmentally friendly solutions, while the choice of how green lies with the individual farmer.

For each solution the cost level is also rated, giving the farmer more accurate picture of the economic viability of choice selected.

The Knowledge Database gives farmers and agricultural advisors everything they need to make the best decisions on how to optimize crop inputs maximize yield and maintain a high-level of environmental friendliness with economic viability.

Follow us to find out more and join us on this journey to provide better food for better health!

Healthy for us as consumers and healthy for our Planet.

The Future is Smart!


Follow us and join us on this journey to create the New World of Crop Protection!

Dr Dragana Vukasinovic, Founder and CEO @ Fauna Smart Technologies