The agriculture industry is one of the oldest on the planet. In recent years, though, the industry has evolved in favor of large-scale farms that monocrop — damaging the environment, as well as our health and society. And with the increased use of chemicals, we’ve changed the makeup of the soil. In response, there’s now a movement to re-engineer how we farm.
Regenerative agriculture is about working with nature, not against it. By understanding exactly how nature works, you can get better yields, sequester carbon and grow more nutrient-rich food. Technology will play a critical role in helping us regenerate at scale, as it has the solutions for managing sustainability programs, improving machinery, improving supply chains, testing and monitoring. That’s one of the main reasons why agriculture technology or “agtech” has seen such a large amount of investment growth in the last five years.
To dig into the world of agtech and regenerative agriculture, we invited Lew Moorman, Co-Founder of Scaleworks and Soilworks Natural Capital, and Sarah Nolet, Founder & CEO of AgThentic and host of the AgTech..so what? podcast, on to Cloud Talk.
Tune in to hear about the following:
- What is regenerative agriculture?
- How technology is making a difference in agriculture
- Understanding incentives and industry complexity
- Psychological challenges for technology adoption, such as traditional mindsets
- Physical challenges for technology adoption, such connectivity in rural areas
- Data and the democratization of testing
Lew Moorman explains why we need to go back to basics with farming. “We have basically spoiled our soil. The nutrient density of our food is extraordinarily low. And we’ve got metabolic disease like crazy because of the kinds of calories we’re consuming. What we need to do is go back to the first principles and figure out how do we work with nature to grow things in a way that we can take from it and give back all at the same time.”
Sarah Nolet explains why technology adoption is slow in the agriculture industry. “Until we really understand the psychology of how decisions are being made by farmers, it’s tough to build solutions. Even if they have the best data and the best automation, we haven’t understood how those decisions are being made and what factors — whether technical, human or economic — are being considered. I think that’s been a big limitation from tech developers on the outside who are saying, look, the data shows this and the ROI shows this. They haven’t understood the psychology. So there’s still more work to be done there.”
Sarah Nolet goes on to discuss why the democratization of testing is enabling significant advances in the industry. “One of the really exciting developments is the democratization of testing. Because we can now do our own testing, that means we can register for these schemes in a much more cost-effective way, instead of having to dig holes, send them to a lab, pay tens of thousands of dollars, etc. The democratization of testing is helping in the supply chain with food safety and traceability. And pushing down the cost of sensors, increasing decision making power. It’s absolutely the beginning of how it will transform agriculture.”