Our goal is to make farmers imagine, and collectively create, adequate equipment and the means of production on the farm. This is in contrast to a trajectory of over-investment, over-indebtedness and over-sizing.
We believe we can make technical choices and invent sophisticated low tech solutions. We don’t want to be overwhelmed by trendy, plug-and-play and miraculous high-tech tools that will only make us more dependent, will be more intrusive and less controllable.
In 2011, we set ourselves up as a staffed organisation working to promote farm-based inventions. Our aim was to collectively develop new technological solutions adapted to small-scale farming, and to make these skills and ideas widely available through courses and educational materials.
We have also been offering resources and guidance to farmer-driven projects involving the building or renovation of agricultural buildings.
We have five trucks equipped with the machinery and materials we need to run about 80 practical training courses on farms and workshops across France per year.
2018/09/28: While it is commendable to strive to reduce the ecological footprint of cities some realism is called for. For their provisions and waste disposal, cities need forest, agricultural, marine, and wetland ecosystems on lands many hundred times the area of the city itself.[xxii] If we are serious about feeding the cities more locally, we should look more to the perimeters of the city and to the interplay between cities and their hinterland. It is here that there really is a potential to feed the cities.
Silicon Valley meats Hollywood That is the best description of how we will get food in the future if we would believe the impressive number of food tech start-ups which will produce food without soil or animals. But few of them deliver on their exaggerated promises.
Because of how badly we humans have treated soils and animals it is understandable that people now are looking for other ways of producing food. Under banners of digital ecosystems, open source, individual foods, actionable intelligence, disruptive food systems and digital transformation, there are legions of entrepreneurs (mostly with background in the IT sector) seeking venture capital and researchers looking for grants.
3-D printing of food is expensive, incredibly slow and not capable of making most of the food we like to eat - today. Perhaps it will in the futures. My concern is rather that 3-D printing of food and robocooks seems to be far-fetched solutions to marginal problems, and it certainly has nothing to do with “solving the world’s largest food and farming problems”.
I turn my attention to methods of primary production which are not soil or animal based (I will leave wild foods and fisheries outside of the discussion).
Few people seem to realize that lab-foods also need a feedstock, and the companies marketing the products are mostly silent regarding the raw materials used. To grow maize as a feedstock for ‘artificial’ food or to produce chicken is not so very different. Chicken production, in many parts of the world, is already landless production, a kind of feed converter factory. And it is obvious that you can do a similar thing with fungi or bacteria. It is not obvious, however, that the process will be much more efficient (but possibly more ethically acceptable).
Tissue culture of beef is currently done on a serum extracted from unborn calves and it also involves the use of antibiotics.[v] Other resource demands are rarely documented, so the claims of being resource efficient still needs to be proven.
Though the cultivation of algae using man-made or natural ponds was initially simple, turning it into a viable feedstock has always been problematic. So our industry has always needed a system that could enable higher production levels, lower capital and operating costs, greater biomass density, better environmental control, and above all, industrial scalability.”[vi] Even bio-fuels could be made from algae, but the cost of production is prohibitive and would use enormous areas and water resources. In addition, it is very energy consuming and CO2 emissions caused would be much bigger than for fossil fuels. Therefore, almost all algae entrepreneurs are producing nutritional supplements and other specialty products which have prices two orders of magnitude higher than fuel or staple food.
Much aquaculture today is based on predatory fish, such as salmon, which are fed on undersized caught wild fish, other fish leftovers and fodder from agriculture. There is not a dramatic difference between modern fish farming and broiler production.
For aquaculture to really play a meaningful role in feeding a growing population in a sustainable way, we need systems that integrate aquaculture and farming. Such systems have developed over a long time in Asia where rice, fish and vegetables have been grown in the same system, sometimes also including ducks or pigs. There are also modern versions of such systems under development.
An extreme version of hydroponics are indoor vertical farms in cities. But the fact that it is possible doesn’t mean it is viable on a larger scale, and even less that it will take place in the cities. Vertical hydroponic farms are totally dependent on inputs that will need to be transported in, they are not part of any ecological context in the city, and if they are large, the crops will be put into the normal food distribution networks. In that sense, they are like any other assembly plant. And, like any other assembly plants, they are better located outside of city centres. But the rational for stacking crops on top of each other is gone where land prices are lower.
But it has little relevance for feeding the population, which is underscored by that the commercial application are all about growing baby lettuce, pak choy or herbs, crops which provide almost no food energy or proteins.
those technologies are not integrated into the ecological web of the city, rather the opposite, they need to be sealed off even from the people and the water used mus
2018/09/30: Agriculture has historically been a circular industry where crops use nutrients in the soil to grow which are then replaced through compost or manure. But globalisation and industrialisation of the food supply chain has disrupted this cycle, driving farming practices that have helped degrade a third of the planet’s land.
Scientists are now looking at ways of tackling this problem with an approach that will not only restore nutrients to the soil but also help to offset the greenhouse gas emissions produced by agriculture.
‘Farm land could work as carbon sinks,’ said Dr Jan Mumme, an agricultural engineer at the University of Edinburgh in the UK. ‘This probably wouldn’t work with intensive livestock farming, but sustainable crop production and integrated farm systems (a balance between crops and livestock) could do it – and biochar is one way to help.’
Biochar is a substance formed of biomass – such as wood and crop waste, sewage sludge and paper waste – that is heated to 400-800°C under limited oxygen conditions to make a charcoal-like product. This can be then added to soil, where it not only stores carbon, but also interacts with microbes in the soils to improve their ability to capture additional nutrients and soil carbon.
Until now, however, biochar has received mixed results when tested for its effects on soils and crop yields.
2018/09/19: Just after the California bill was introduced, the farm equipment manufacturers started circulating a flyer titled “Manufacturers and Dealers Support Commonsense Repair Solutions.” In that document, they promised to provide manuals, guides, and other information by model year 2021. But the flyer insisted upon a distinction between a right to repair a vehicle and a right to modify software, a distinction that gets murky when software controls all of a tractor’s operations.
As Jason Koebler of Motherboard reported, that flyer is strikingly similar—in some cases, identical word-for-word—to the agreement the Farm Bureau just brokered. The flyer and the agreement list the same four restrictions:
No resetting immobilizer systems.
No reprogramming electronic control units or engine control modules.
No changing equipment or engine settings that might negatively affect emissions or safety.
No downloading or accessing the source code of any proprietary embedded software.
These restrictions are enormous. If car mechanics couldn’t reprogram car computers, a good portion of modern repairs just wouldn’t be possible.
2018/09/18: The board can be used as a general purpose I/O and DAQ add-on but is specifically designed as a control board for aquaponics and hydroponics gardening.
Because most plant varieties have been optimized for Big Ag and long-distance distribution, plant biologists can explore many new avenues to find cultivars that will perform even better when grown inside. Marcelis’s experiments, for instance, suggest that fine-tuning the lights in a food computer could double the shelf life of lettuce and double the vitamin C in tomatoes. A generation from now, mothers may pass along to their kids their favorite recipe for tomatoes along with the family recipe for tomato sauce.
Fraunhofer calls its unique installation, which mounts the solar panels high enough to allow farm equipment and animals to move freely underneath, agrophotovoltaics or APV. The results from the first experimental program near Lake Constance in southwestern Germany found combining agriculture and farming increased the output of the land by 60% over what it would be if the same land was devoted 100% to farming or 100% to solar panels.
The partial shading of crops planted beneath the APV scaffolding can reduce the need for irrigation. Various fruits which normally do not grow well in dry climates with high solar radiation can flourish when shaded by an APV system and livestock can benefit from less exposure to the sun. The electricity generated can power water pumps or desalination systems. In addition, it can be used for cooling and processing crops, making them preservable and therefore more profitable.
In remote regions, the quality of life is improved by access to electricity that provides improved access to information, education, and better medical care. In sub-Saharan Africa, about 92% of the rural population have no access to electricity. APV offers new sources of income to the local population and at the same time reduces the dependence on the fossil fuels that are often used to run diesel generators.
Also available in: Fran195167ais Photo: Arne Hoel/World Bank There's no question that agriculture is critical to Africa's biggest development goals. It is fundamental for poverty reduction, economic growth and environment sustainability. African food market continues to grow. It is estimated that African food markets will triple to US$1 trillion from its current US$300 billion
2018/06/09: Blockchain is a promising technology that is still shock full of hype. Farming is a literally vital component of society that is in dire straits worldwide. What happens if the two try to work together?
2018/04/39: Investors worldwide are pushing blockchain and the Internet of Things inside literally everything. Including food. This leaves many of us, including me, a bit confused and skeptical. Here is one case where a bit more of explanation may make things easier to accept.