Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Technology

The role of technology in food production and preparation dates back to the neolithic discovery of controlled fire. These days new technologies in, for example, agricultural production, processing and food preservation are key to achieving a sufficient supply of food for a growing population. Controversies and disagreements exist around many technologies and their enabling infrastructure, most notably genetic modification, confined animal feeding operations and chemical crop protection.

20 March 2019

FCRN member Pat Thomas of UK campaign group Beyond GM has helped to set up the website A Bigger Conversation, which aims to bring together experts and thinkers, including scientists, academics, farmers, breeders and grassroots leaders, from multiple disciplines and multiple sides of the debate on genetic engineering in the food system.

Image: USAF, AEHF (Advanced Extremely High Frequency) Satellite, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
26 February 2019

The 2019 Green Alliance Annual Debate discusses the ways in which earth observation and data science can improve our understanding of and ability to address environmental issues - for example, monitoring deforestation or water levels in reservoirs in real time through satellite images.

26 February 2019

The National Farmers’ Union, which represents agriculture and horticulture in England and Wales, reports on the trends that might influence food production, diets and food retail in the UK over the next two decades, including edible insects, robots, vertical farming and nanoencapsulation.

Image: Max Pixel, Bee bees honey, CC0 Public Domain
18 February 2019

Students at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have created a machine learning algorithm to automatically count Varroa mites in beehives. The algorithm could help beekeepers monitor bee health more quickly and accurately.

Image: chipmuk_1, 20120208_1648 Chicago O'Hare Airport Vertical Farm, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
11 February 2019

Bayer Crop Science writes about several case studies in vertical farming, including agrilution (hydroponics farming in Germany), Comcrop (Singapore’s first rooftop commercial farm) and Sky Greens (a vertical farm in Singapore).

Image: Max Pixel, Plant field summer, Creative Commons CC0
4 February 2019

These three audio reports from the Wall Street Journal explore the impact of climate change on commercial fisheries, cattle genetically engineered to tolerate higher temperatures, and how advances in artificial intelligence and genetics could help farmers to withstand crop disease and droughts.

29 January 2019

The UK’s Global Food Security programme has published a report on innovation within the UK food systems, focusing particularly on the contribution of data technologies and artificial intelligence to food security.

Image: Free-Photos, Pig animal snout, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
3 December 2018

Facial recognition could be used on pig farms in China to provide individualised feeding plans. The artificial intelligence system, created by a subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce company JD, can also track a pig’s growth, physical condition and vaccinations over its lifespan.

Image: MaxPixel, Lamb eating, CC0 Public Domain
26 November 2018

A new method for monitoring nutrient concentrations in pasture in real time - using a small near-infrared spectroscopy device - could allow farmers to improve productivity by adjusting livestock grazing patterns, according to this paper.

Image: Stefan Walkowski, Antibiogram of Pseudomonas aeruginosa on Mueller-Hinton agar, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
19 November 2018

This paper describes the susceptibility of organisms such as bacteria to biocides such as antibiotics, insecticides and herbicide as a beneficial ecosystem service, since susceptible organisms can prevent the spread of biocide resistance by outcompeting resistant organisms (that is, in biocide-free environments). This framing is distinct from many other viewpoints, which focus on the negative costs of biocide resistance.

12 November 2018

Israeli startup Taranis has raised $20 million in funding for its aerial imaging technology, which uses multispectral images from satellites, planes and drones to scan fields. Artificial intelligence then identifies threats such as insects, crop disease, weeds and nutrient deficiencies. The company claims its technology can increase crop yields by up to 7.5%.

Image: Solar Foods Pic 1, Solar Foods produces an entirely new kind of nutrient-rich protein using only air and electricity, https://solarfoods.fi/about/
12 November 2018

In a column for the Guardian, George Monbiot writes about the potential to create food without plants, animals or soil, using instead bacteria that feed on hydrogen (generated by solar-powered electrolysis of water) and carbon dioxide from the air. Monbiot argues that this form of food production could eventually drastically reduce the amount of land needed for the global food supply chain, and suggests that the new foodstuff could be used as an ingredient in processed foods.

22 October 2018

The Engagement Migros development fund and the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture have funded the creation of an app, MyFoodways, which aims to help consumers reduce food waste. The app provides personalised recipes suggestions and offers tips on storing food and using up leftovers. While the MyFoodways company is commercial, the app is free for users to download.

Image: Iron Ox Media Assets, Transplanter hero
16 October 2018

California agritech startup Iron Ox has unveiled an “autonomous farm”, where robots move plants and transplant them from one stage to the next. Artificial intelligence controls pests and diseases and adjusts growing conditions. The farm is not entirely automated, as humans still sow seedlings and package the harvested crops. The farm produces leafy greens and herbs.

8 October 2018

A new lab-grown meat startup, Meatable, claims that it has overcome a key technical barrier - the use of serum from unborn animals to grow cells. Meatable’s meat-growing process allegedly does not need serum, because it uses pluripotent stem cells (avoided by other startups because they are hard to control). Meatable also claims their process only needs to take one cell from an animal (as opposed to a larger piece of tissue).

Image: Nick Saltmarsh, Pig, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

Startup New Age Meats has served the world’s first lab-grown pork sausages to journalists. The fat and muscle cells were allegedly grown from pork cells extracted from a live pig - in contrast to the world’s first lab-grown burger, showcased in 2013, where the initial cell samples came from slaughtered cattle.

2 October 2018

This book, edited by Shakeel Ahmed, showcases the latest research and applications in bio-based food packaging materials.

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