Part of the answer lies in developing sustainable agriculture systems. As farmers rise to the challenge of growing enough food, technology companies are stepping up to help them do it smarter, faster and with a smaller environmental footprint. One such innovator is Naïo Technologies.
A leader in the realm of agricultural robots and autonomous guidance systems, Naïo Technologies co-founders Aymeric Barthes and Gaëtan Séverac built their company with growers’ biggest pain points in mind. The two engineers spoke to many farmers who struggled to find enough labor to support their operations, which inspired Barthes and Séverac to provide technological solutions. That work continues today.
“The main challenge is that there is a growing population, and in parallel, we need to take care of the environment in order to have a sustainable future,” Barthes and Séverac say. “If it is just about continuing to grow food in the way we are used to, things would be manageable, but we, as humans, fear that some of our practices are not sustainable. Robotics and new technologies are one part of the solution.”
It’s easy to blame the growing population for these issues, but according to the World Resources Institute, there are a number of contributing factors, including increased meat and milk consumption, climate change and water stress—all of which exacerbate environmental harm. The global food challenge is a complex problem. Any progress will require taking a multifaceted approach.
“One of the issues of past agriculture is that we tried too much to simplify the system, and we are stuck in a non-sustainable system. If we want a sustainable system, we need to be able to manage that complexity.”
This means that in addition to initiatives that focus on boosting crop yields, championing the use of cover crops, and minimizing food waste and loss, a significant amount of technological innovation will be required to help the agriculture sector meet its rapidly increasing production goals. Robotics offer a viable solution. Not only do autonomous machines give farmers the gifts of accuracy, efficiency and better decision-making, they do so without sacrificing natural eco-systems or fertile farmland.
“Thanks to robotics and new technology, we can offer a more accurate and efficient agriculture industry,” Barthes and Séverac say. “Robots help also to collect some data in the field, so farmers will be able to better understand the soil conditions, crop conditions and monitor diseases, and so on.”
Once the information is gathered and analyzed, farmers are able to make smarter agronomic decisions. This enables operations for example to reduce their herbicide usage and limit the emission of greenhouse gases and particles.
“The robot will help to bring the right crop management inputs to the right place at the right moment,” they say. “It is all about more accurate farming, more accurate data collection and more accurate decision making. Altogether, you have a more efficient system.”
With the global food crisis looming, ag-tech innovators everywhere are racing to bring viable, eco-conscious solutions to market. This combination of effort toward a common goal offers hope for the future.