Transformative trends: A snapshot of agri-food in the midst of evolutionary change

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Monty Rakusen
© GettyImages/Monty Rakusen

Related tags IoT big data Soybean meal epigenetics CRISPR

In this edition of Feed Matters, we talk to Aidan Connolly about his collection of essays: The Future of Agriculture.

Sorted by both technologies and species, with local examples and a global perspective, the book​ gives us a ringside seat to what the future of feed, food, and farming holds. 

He outlines where agriculture, or more specifically maybe where animal feed production and farming, is at right now, where we need to get to, and how we will get there.

We hear about some of the likely big disruptors for agriculture, and the role that Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, and blockchain may play in the future of feed manufacturing and livestock farming. 

He also weighs in on whether cellular meat and plant-based alternatives to animal proteins are still likely to shake up the food space.

Mitigating GHG emissions 

In addition, Connolly discusses sustainability goals, noting that farmers or livestock producers are seriously worried about being made the scapegoat for a failure to control greenhouse gases (GHG), when issues such as shale gas, passenger travel and the use of energy by an increasingly digital economy are also significant, if not greater, contributors to GHG generation.

Long the key driver of global soy trade, the consultant also reflects on China’s fluctuating imports and production goals and what they may mean for growers such as Brazil and Argentina in the coming years.

With renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel demand for soybean oil growing, the US is poised to become a big producer of soybean meal, so much so that it is predicted to rival Argentina in the soybean meal exports stakes. Connolly also looks at the potential knock-on effect of such a development.

Gene editing 

And he makes the case for why CRISPR will be a game changer in terms of disease resistance in plants.

Finally, the expert reflects on epigenetics, or how an environment affects the expression of inherited genes, and how that science promises to revolutionize the way we think of nutrition.

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