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Agriculture and the 2050 Challenge: The Future of Farming

According to an estimate by the French Institute for Demographic Studies, there will be 10 billion people on earth by the year 2050, which equates to another 3 billion mouths to feed than there were in 2010. The need for food will also be impacted by the growing population and lesser farming land. The World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that by 2050, there will be a 56 percent rise in the amount of food required. With resources running out, territory diminishing, and the environment becoming more hazardous, the globe must farm and produce more. Assuring everyone has access to food and nutrition security is the biggest challenge facing us all in the upcoming decades.

The unpleasant part

The unpleasant part is that they experience food losses and wastage, even though agricultural production systems around the world are producing enough to satisfy the dietary needs of the expanding population. According to reports, over one-third of the weight of the food produced worldwide each year is lost or squandered before it reaches our plates. If prevented, such a massive waste might feed millions of people who are starving and malnourished. Therefore, this must be halted. Most of our crops now have static yields. By improving the efficiency of our production, we must raise the yield. Our natural ecosystems need to be preserved and restored at the same time.

Additionally, there is an urgent need to come up with innovative approaches to the 2050 challenge in light of constraints such as a lack of available land and natural resources.

 Hydroponics

Plants grown hydroponically do not require soil. The fundamental tenet of hydroponics is that a plant will be as healthy as genetically possible if you provide it with exactly what it needs when it needs it, and in the amount that it requires. This activity is simple to complete in hydroponics, but it is much more challenging in soil. In hydroponics, the growing material for the plants is inert. The substance in which a plant's roots are growing is known as the growth medium. The growing media can be made of a variety of materials, including sand, gravel, coconut fiber, perlite, Rockwool, and vermiculite. The growth medium is an inert substance that does not provide the plants with any sustenance. The nutritional solution, which is a mixture of water and other fertilizers, provides the nutrients. The pH of the nutrition solution is precisely regulated. The roots receive this nutrient solution in a form that is very soluble. As opposed to dirt, where the roots must seek for and harvest the nutrients, this enables the plant to absorb its nourishment with less effort.

Aeroponics

A more advanced kind of hydroponics known as aeroponics involves spraying a fertilizer water mixture directly onto the plant's roots, which only stretch into the air (the recipe). The accessibility of oxygen to the roots in Aeroponics and Hydroponics is their main distinction. One must make sure to supply oxygenated water when using hydroponics. Both hydroponics and aeroponics are ideal for indoor and urban environments and produce better outcomes than soil gardening, however, hydroponics is simpler to set up and maintain while aeroponics produces larger yields and healthier plants.

Urban Agriculture

Urban residents make up a tiny fraction of those who grow their food. The difficulty of guaranteeing the food security of urban residents will become more pressing as the trend of migration from rural to urban areas continues. Urban regions are also characterized by significant undernourishment and calorie consumption deficiencies. Urban agriculture has become popular in recent years as one of the answers for ensuring food and nutritional security, which has also been threatened by migration and a sizable number of farmers quitting their jobs. Urban agriculture, also known as peri-urban agriculture, has the potential to reduce poverty while simultaneously ensuring food security and aiding in the search for long-term solutions to the growing problem of wastewater and solid waste management. Urban agriculture can be carried out in several locations, including houses, shopping centers, office buildings, schools, and other institutions. Food can be grown on balconies, rooftops, open spaces in cities, barren plots, ponds, parks, community buildings, roadsides, railroad tracks, and institutional locations like schools, colleges, hospitals, universities, and many more where it can be administered by local organizations.

Vertical Farming 

This is yet another method of food production that lessens the requirement for fresh land while preserving several natural resources that are now under threat from numerous human endeavors. Growing plants in layers are referred to as "vertical farming" in current terms, whether it is done in a used warehouse, multistory skyscraper, or shipping container. Modern concepts of vertical farming make use of controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) technology and indoor farming methods, where all environmental conditions may be managed. According to ecologist Dickson Despommier, vertical farming is appropriate for the environment. Despite the ecological and environmental costs of extracting resources to build skyscrapers for the straightforward goal of agricultural production, he contends that the natural landscapes are too poisonous for natural, agricultural agriculture. The production of vertical farms would be mostly independent of weather and shielded from extreme weather events, except earthquakes and other shocks because vertical plant farming offers a controlled environment. A good way to increase agricultural output without harming the environment and make sure that consumers can have fresh produce is through vertical farming.

Container Farming 

Plants are grown in containers, usually pots, in this approach. A compact, enclosed, typically portable item used for showcasing live plants or flowers is referred to as a container. It could be in the shape of a hanging basket, pot, box, tub, basket, tin, or barrel. The container is appropriate for a wide variety of plants, including ornamental flowers, herbs, cactus, vegetables, and small trees and shrubs. The containers are typically utilized as decorative elements.

Protected Cultivation 

The season for open cultivation is quite short in some areas of the country because of the harsh winters, and to sufficiently supply the region with food grains and other commodities throughout the winter, the region must import output from other parts of the nation. In such areas, protected horticulture has enormous potential to guarantee that the populace has access to at least fresh vegetables all year long. It has also been a blessing for the local farmers by providing them with options for a living. Black plastic sheets, ditches, and poly homes are all components of protected cultivation. The farmers in this area cultivate early vegetable nurseries, produce early vegetables, and extend the growing season and vegetable production during the freezing winter with the aid of these poly homes and trenches. Today, in the dead of winter when nothing grows outside due to the soil freezing over, leafy vegetables like spinach are grown in trenches and poly homes.

Digital Farming

The term "digital farming" has currently taken over in every industry. Information and communication technologies (ICT) and data ecosystems are referred to in the context of agriculture as "supporting the development and delivery of timely, targeted information and services to make farming profitable and sustainable while delivering safe, wholesome, and reasonably priced food for all." Agriculture is currently going through a process known as "digitalization." Internet of things, precision agriculture, robotics, smart greenhouses, police monitoring, and advanced farming systems are only a few examples of the various digital farming technologies. The study findings and the farming community are becoming more and more in sync thanks to digital technologies. They are helping farmers save a great deal of time, effort, and money by promptly informing them about the weather, disease outbreaks, crop management, and market prices of various commodities. Some of the examples of successful promotion of digital farming initiatives in the nation are the various private sector initiatives like e-Choupal of the Indian Tobacco Company (ITC), Tata Kissan Sanchar Limited (TKSL), Rheuters Market Lights (RML), M S Swaminathan Foundation Limited, Chennai, and the Digital Green initiative of Rikin Gandhi that use brief videos to make the farmers aware.

Agriculture provides a living for close to one-third of the world's population, and research has shown that it is at least twice as successful in eradicating poverty as the growth from other industries. Therefore, such novel approaches are crucial to the development and future of agriculture. More so for the vast majority of smallholder farmers around the world, these need to be made accessible to producers.

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