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The Future of Agriculture

Future of Agriculture

At my master program „Innovation and Product Management“ we (an international team of eight students) are concerned with the future of the agricultural sector. The aim is to develop a vision and future scenarios for an Austrian agricultural machinery manufacturer. A few future agricultural scenarios of hanging gardens, floating farms, vertical and urban farming are seen below in the image. Due to our findings and research there would not only be a change of machinery and technology, but also a different view of how and where to farm. Buildings, rivers & ships, the sea and also our homes are places for future farm spots.

If we jump back to the present the agricultural sector faces many challenges. Some of them are described here:

Food Industrialization
Land Transformation
Economic Pressure
Climate Change
Farmer’s Extinction
Food Quality

You can find a short explanation for all the challenges in this document:

Download Challenges

If we look back to the early ages of agriculture the main reason for farming was the existential self-supply of people – to fight hunger and survive. In the following centuries the direct connection between people and food (and also animals) became more and more disconnected. Now, mass industrialized food production is apparently optimized to its upper limit. Surprisingly (or not), people want to get more local, fresh food from their preferred farmer, or more extreme, they want to produce their own farm in urban gardens, mostly indoor. This trend is pushed by the disadvantages of industrialized food (healthiness of convenience & fast food) and the trend to urbanization, i.e. the issue of missing space for own (outdoor) gardens.

So, there are not only challenges, but also trends in the agricultural sector:

On the one hand: Trend to mass industrialization of food and therefore convenience, fast and functional food. The overall goal is to feed the world „efficiently“. Although some production methods are in the long run not very efficient.
On the other hand: Trend to small(er) farms with local or regional distribution to feed spreading organic markets or so-called earth markets, a term defined by the slow-food-movement.
  • Trend to self or shared production („Prosumer“ = Producer and Consumer) in urban regions (indoor/outdoor/vertical); It is really interesting to see how hard people try to have their own vegetables in an urban region.
  • Trend to use water areas like the sea or rivers or also small ponds for farming (on and below the sea, underwater-farming).

    Due to the mentioned visions, challenges and trends our team agreed on the following fields of interests:

    (1) Substitution of tractor – what does it mean if the tools and machinery are not pulled by a farm tractor? How does agricultural work would look like? How can this applied to urban or rural regions? How is the company prepared for this scenario?

    (2) Space constraint farming – what does it mean to have a farm in an atypical environment as cities, houses, ships, etc. What have to be changed to meet this conditions? How can the company adapt to this issue?

    Both fields of interest should be related to the theme „Human connection to nature“ or how the disconnectedness of consumers and their food can be recovered in future.

    Besides this two fields of interest, it is interesting to see that the target group is shifting in future from professional farmers to more or less „hobby“ farmers. To deal with that change an example for a concept could be small machinery for prosumer. Now, there is a lot of activity in going back to have your own farm or garden and to live from your own products, independent from the system. Although there is some support for that nowadays (e.g. on the internet), but most of the „hobby“ farming is based on experience and direct communication exchange. At the same time, people are keen of technology and gadgets that make their daily life easier. Combining these two trends in the future could result in a target group called „Eco-Tekkie“. A man or woman trying to optimize his or her home farm with technology. For this new target group professional, but still usable tools and machinery is necessary.


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