Change or have change happen to you, says futurist

Be the change or be changed, says Nikolas Badminton, futurist and TechTour alumnus.

What does that mean for agriculture? Well, according to Badminton, it means that farmers are either going to have to adapt and evolve their practices, technology, and equipment, or someone else willing to do so will be the one farming and not them.

It’s perhaps a strong message for an industry steeped in tradition like agriculture, but history shows that farmers have always been able to adapt, change, and move forward. The rate of that change — and the costs associated with it — is increasing, however, and farmers are going to have to be nimble in the face of rapidly advancing technology, urbanization, and social shifts.

According to Badminton there are some key areas of advancement that farmers need to pay attention to and adapt with. These are:

  • Renewable energy, such as wind, solar, hydro (already common in Canada but not so in other parts of the world), and battery technology, which allows us to store and share energy when we need it
  • Mobility and electrification (this was a big push at Agritechnica this year)
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence: farmers harvest crops AND data. How do we use that to be more efficient? Account for water use in closed systems?
  • Disruption in the protein industry: cell meat production (we’re only 10-15 years from being at scale)

All of these areas have big money behind them for research and development, and change is happening at a rapid pace. That said, Badminton doesn’t agree with those that are calling for a very abrupt end to how much of the world’s protein is raised — as livestock.

Data, too, is already re-defining how most businesses operate and farming is no different. Sensor technology is growing in leaps and bounds, he says, and it’s this data that will shape technology and push change.

“We shouldn’t be scared of the opportunity. Yes, we need to work out the business case…but let’s pilot projects, let’s see what can work,” he says, “If farmers evolve, they’ll flourish, if they don’t, businesses will move in and do the work required,” Badminton says.

Hear more about what Badminton sees happening — and not happening — in agriculture in the next 10 years:

Related: What will farmers do when they no longer drive tractors?

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