By 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.1 billion, 34 percent higher than today. Nearly all of this population increase will occur in developing countries. Urbanization will continue at an accelerated pace, and about 70 percent of the world’s population will be urban (compared to 49 percent today). Income levels will be many multiples of what they are now. In order to feed this larger, more urban and richer population, food production (net of food used for biofuels) must increase by 70 percent. Annual cereal production will need to rise to about 3 billion tonnes from 2.1 billion today and annual meat production will need to rise by over 200 million tonnes to reach 470 million tonnes.
Robotics / Mechanization is not the complete answer for the two big societal question. However, this kind of technology can act on the environment with higher levels of precision and solve smaller problems like:
- Despite of population increasing, in developed countries, the lack of workers is still a seasonal problem for farmers;
- Agriculture uses 70% of fresh water, creating water scarcity and will promote conflicts in the future;
- Rural economy/desertification, being a farmer is still a hard job without the benefits of an urban life;
- Expected climate change has negative impacts on soil productivity, requiring more frequent treatments and operations on crops;
- Soil compaction is a problem related to the use of heavy machinery;
- Food waste and Food security – the interrelationships connection to human wellbeing. Short chains may be a cost-effective solution for more healthier and tastier products that can promote better population nutrition;
- Farmers needs higher efficiency on the natural resources usage.
Indeed, robotics and mechanization are already promoting the precision agriculture and at least in some competitive and extensive crops and livestock context, they are bringing clear benefits for society and farmers, like:
- Improves yield, land use, environmental impact and management;
- Increases precision and quality in the process;
- Extends operation time and reduces unit costs;
- Provides a quantitative decision base (ability to gather data and assess the state of crops and livestock).
However, the use of robotics/mechanization in agriculture is not fully democratized in all agricultural/forestry contexts.
To help to solve two big societal questions:
- Can Mother Earth Feed 9 Billion of persons by 2050?;
- Can we produce sufficient food from 0.2 hectare to feed each person? (in 2010, were used 0.5 in average per person).
We need to have more precision agriculture:
Where Robotics / Mechanization can:
- Gather all relevant/type/amount of available information;
- Apply the right amount at right time and place;
- Act chirurgical at the right time and place.