If the world’s population continues to grow at the current rate, by 2050 we will require 70 percent more food than we need now. If the dietary habits of the poorest populations change—that is, if broader segments of these populations begin to include meat in their daily diets—that figure will be even higher. Given that the area of arable land available globally has decreased, we can expect to face a significant problem.
The severity of that problem can be reduced by the careful use of resources. But this requires profound knowledge of the agricultural and food supply chains, and of the technological tools that will be needed if such resource use is to become the norm. This is why we’ve joined forces with Agroscope. We hope that the knowledge we share will allow us to develop tools for the monitoring of fields and livestock, and for the optimization of all the processes of the food supply chain.
Among our range of joint projects, we’re working on an ultra-low-power wireless sensor network to support drip irrigation with controlled soil humidity in vineyards. Another project is creating an innovative decision-support system to manage crops—respecting environmental conditions and the needs of plants by using self-learning and neural networks. A self-configured wireless sensor mesh network is being developed for livestock herd management, as is a system for the continuous monitoring of endocrine disruptive compounds in food processing and wastewater recycling. We’re also working together on a narrow-pitch-stilt robot to automate vineyard soil treatment and pesticide management in mountainous environments, and on the electrochemical detection of lactate dehydrogenase as an early indicator of mastitis and inflammation in cattle.