Ag & Food Conference
The roots of our development of agriculture started around 12,000 years ago. The impact of technology on agriculture has changed it almost beyond recognition since then, allowing us to feed the more than 7 billion people who rely on agriculture for their food today.
Even from some of the earliest examples, humans have come up with new farming methods, and then shared their knowledge with others. Modern agricultural technology conferences are great catalysts for innovation and collaboration that continue to revolutionize the future of agriculture technology.
We’ll begin our deep dive into the world of AgTech conferences by answering questions like:
- How did technology impact agriculture?
- What is the future of AgTech?
- What are the new technologies for sustainable agriculture?
- What is the future of the food industry?
Once we’ve laid this groundwork, we’ll move on to some specifics about the modern AgTech industry, some of the most relevant conferences, and why a cross-sector technology innovation conference is so important to modern farming technology in the future.
How Did Technology Help in the Innovation of Agriculture?
The earliest technology in agriculture examples include axes to clear growing spaces, digging sticks to break up soil, and jars for storing the harvest. From there, a spate of technological advances happened that are still relevant in modern agricultural engineering. For example:
- There is evidence of selective breeding for wheat with easier-to-remove hulls around 6000 B.C.E. in Southern Asia.
- The earliest simple irrigation systems began in Mesopotamia around 5500 B.C.E.
- In the Middle East, around 1000 C.E., humans established crop rotation and agriculture was studied as a science.
- The 18th and 19th centuries saw huge technological advances in mechanized agriculture with inventions like the horse-drawn seed drill, steel plows, grain thrashers, and mechanical reapers.
- Selective animal breeding likely began in the Bronze age with horse breeding by Mongolian nomads. By the 18th century, many of the heritage European breeds we know today were established.
- Machinery powered by gas or electricity became standard in American and European farms by the 1950s.
- In the 1970s, genetically engineered crops were introduced.
As you can see, the adoption of new technology in agriculture is nearly as old as agriculture itself. New technologies have increased our capacity to produce food to feed the growing human population but have also introduced new concerns.
What Is the Future of Agriculture Technology?
We’ve come a mind bogglingly long way already with our technological advances in agriculture, but there are even more exciting improvements on the horizon. For example, at the World Government Summit in 2018, Agriculture 4.0: The future of farming technology was introduced. This concept is based on the idea that smart systems are the next wave of developments in cultivation. For example, farmers will use sensors and information technology to target the application of nutrients, water, and pest control instead of applying it broadly. This allows food production to be more environmentally sustainable and more efficient.
There are plenty of examples of these breakthroughs already being used in food production at a limited scale. Examples include:
- Vertical farming using hyperspectral imaging to detect plant health in Italy at Agricola Moderna.
- Smart greenhouses that work with the physiology of plants to produce higher quality with fewer inputs in the Netherlands.
- Monitoring and detecting real-time soil emissions of greenhouse gas from farmland in Italy
- 3D printing of non-animal-based meat in Spain at NovaMeat.
- Photobioreactors used to produce microalgae for biomass, carbon dioxide sequestration, and wastewater treatment.
The future of AgTech will see these types of systems and practices becoming much more widespread. This will allow for the increased food production we need to feed the expanding human population.
What Is the Latest Invention in Agriculture for Sustainability?
Widespread innovative use of technology in agriculture is already happening across the industry. Some of the latest technological advances include:
- Agricultural management SaaS is a constantly improving software area for overseeing various ag management processes from finances to supply procurement.
- Smart irrigation systems allow for fine tuned levels of water control as opposed to the whole field flooding systems of the past.
- Precision agriculture, which uses big data and analytics to allow farmers to increase productivity with more sustainable use of resources, like dialing in the exact amount of fertilizer needed instead of over-fertilizing.
- Bee vectoring technology (BVT) uses commercially reared bees in specially designed hives to distribute pest control powders to targeted crops, eliminating the need for harmful sprayed pesticides.
- Indoor vertical farming techniques decrease water, pesticide, and land use.
- Real-time kinematic (RTK) technology allows farm equipment to be guided with centimeter-level accuracy to stay in permanent “lanes” within fields. Significantly reducing the percentage of land being driven on and plowed by heavy machinery maintains soil health and structure, improving yields without more inputs.
- Minichromosome technology uses very small packets of genetic information to select desirable plant traits without some of the concerns present with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Which Are the New Technologies in the Food Industry?
Food and agriculture are intricately intertwined, so there is a blurry line between the terms like agritech, foodtech, and the food industry. Broadly speaking, the food industry is the entire network of businesses needed to grow, distribute, and sell most of the food eaten by the people of the world.
So what is the agritech industry and is it different from the food industry? Because the food industry covers such a broad range of businesses, it is often broken down into “before the farm gate” which is the agricultural side, and “after the farm gate” which is the processing, distribution, and selling side. Agritech or AgTech refers to the technology used before the farm gate, while foodtech is the technology used to get the food from the farm gate to the table.
What Is Future Food Technology?
Basically, every element of the food system is experiencing rapid technological innovation. Let’s look at some recent advancements regarding different steps food goes through after it leaves the farm until it ends up on your plate.
- Freezing – Isochoric freezing is an emerging technology for freezing food within a block of ice where the food itself is not frozen. This uses less energy than traditional freezing and does not cause the same changes to food that occur when ice crystals form within the product.
- Killing Pathogens – High-voltage atmospheric cold plasma is being experimented with to kill a wide range of pathogens that can cause food spoilage without heat treatment.
- Dehydration – Electrohydrodynamic drying uses ionized air to dry foods like fruits and vegetables without heat. This reduces energy usage and preserves color and flavor better than traditional dehydration processes.
- Fraud Reduction – Oxygen isotope modeling authenticates where food comes from, which is especially relevant for regionally protected foods like olive oil and Champagne.
- 3D Printed Food – Plant proteins from algae and beet leaves can now be printed into meat substitutes to meet human protein needs. 3D printing foods also reduces food waste compared to conventional processing and can be customized to different dietary needs.
- Food Waste Reduction – Grading technology and specialized sensors are now being used to identify food of lower quality that could cause more widespread spoilage.
- Food Packaging Design – Innovations in the ubiquitous food packaging we all encounter are improving food storage times, decreasing packaging waste and shipping weight, and increasing recyclability or compostability.
- Precision Fermentation – Yeasts and other microbes are being harnessed to create proteins with biotechnology. These engineered proteins can make food virtually identical to dairy and eggs, reducing the carbon footprint, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions of traditional animal products.
- Freeze-Drying Increases – Freeze drying has been known to preserve food well without the nutrient or quality loss of other preservation methods for years, but new innovations have made it faster, easier, and less expensive. This is leading to further refinement and new applications.
- Nutraceuticals – Foods that give health benefits beyond simple nutrition are experiencing huge advances. Sometimes called designer foods, superfoods, or functional foods, things like hydrolyzed proteins and bioengineering for more nutrient density are changing the game in this field.
How Big Is the AgTech Industry?
The current estimated global AgTech industry is almost $22 billion in 2023, and it is projected to grow to over $44 billion by 2030. North America currently makes up about $9 billion of the total AgTech market, which is more than twice the size of any other regional market. In the US in particular, agriculture contributed “5.4 percent to U.S. gross domestic product and provided 10.5 percent of U.S. employment; Americans’ expenditures on food amount to 12 percent of household budgets on average” according to the USDA.
Because of the extreme importance of agriculture in feeding the people of earth, you could even argue that it is one of the biggest and most important industries we have. As the human population continues to expand and the climate crisis changes environmental conditions, technological advances in agriculture will play an increasingly large role in the coming decades.
Why AgTech Conferences Matter and How to Find Them
The sheer size of the AgTech industry is part of the reason that conferences play such an important role. Although many companies are big players leading innovations within certain sectors, conferences allow for trading ideas and collaborations between sectors in the larger AgTech and FoodTech industries. There are some great conferences out there that have been exploring these benefits for years already.
What Are Key Agriculture Conferences of 2024 in the USA?
- Animal AgTech Innovation Summit – Focuses on “collaborating and transforming animal health, nutrition & welfare” and is next in San Francisco on March 11, 2024.
- World AgriTech USA Conference- Focuses on “growers, agribusiness leaders, technology pioneers, and investors coming together to exchange insights, be inspired, and identify future partners” and is next in San Francisco March 12-13, 2024.
- Future FoodTech Conference- Focuses on “innovation and investment from farm to fork” and is next in San Francisco on March 14-15, 2024.
What Are Key Upcoming International Agricultural Conferences?
- Indoor Ag-Con – Focuses on “organic food, organic drinks, organic non-food products and the latest developments within the organic industry” on Feb 13-16 in Germany.
- Sustainability Summit 2024 – Focuses “development of green economy across all disciplines, sectors, and markets” in Africa on Feb 27-29 in Johannesburg.
- FutureAg Expo 2024 – Focuses on “technology and innovations related to agriculture, livestock and fisheries” on April 17-19 in Australia.
- Animal AgTech Innovation Summit – Focuses on “building safe and sustainable meat and dairy production” on October 8-9, 2024 in Amsterdam.
What Is a Cross-Sectional Technology Conference?
Conferences like those mentioned above are hugely beneficial for sharing ideas across technologies in agricultural and food sciences to improve innovation and collaboration. But what if you could harness this innovation from technology in other industries as well? That’s the whole idea behind Rally, a cross-sectional technology conference that aims to connect software, healthcare, hardtech, sportstech, and entrepreneurship innovators in one place.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of traditional conferences, and how cross-sectional collaboration takes them to the next level.
- Increase Knowledge | Featured speakers, panels, and presentations from some of the leaders in innovation in your field can add to your knowledge base of cutting-edge innovations. With a cross-sector conference, learning about up-and-coming technological breakthroughs outside your industry means you get even more fuel for industry-shaking breakthroughs of your own.
- Develop Relationships | Connections with others working on similar projects can lead to great collaborations that push an industry forward. Whether finding a mentor or mentee, a great fit for your next hire, or another company for a collaborative relationship, real connections forged at conferences make a difference. When you introduce the possibility of meaningful relationships with people and organizations making waves in tech from outside your industry, the potential for great innovations goes through the roof.
- Break from the Routine | Burnout from working hard on the same things day after day is real. Shake things up by leaving the daily grind behind and get inspired at an industry conference! You’ll be surprised at how this can reinvigorate your routine. Attending seminars and workshops with industries you’re unfamiliar with can give you this much-needed mental shake-up, along with thought-provoking ideas to apply to your work.
- Create Content | We’ve all heard the phrase “content is king” but there’s only so much truly new content you can produce sitting in the same office every day. Taking your show on the road to a conference gives you a new backdrop full of new opportunities for content that brings value to your customers. At a cross-sectional tech conference, you’re even more likely to find something new to say that your viewers haven’t heard before.
- Discover New Innovations | Even the most dedicated researcher can’t keep up with every new thing coming down the pipeline in an industry as big as AgTech. There will always be someone doing something you haven’t heard about, and conferences are a great way to get caught up on the biggest innovations you’ve missed. This is even more true for technological innovations outside your industry that could have far-reaching implications for how you work. Imagine how many amazing things are happening in other industries that could be applied to your work, if only you knew they existed?
- Receive Awards and Recognition | When you’re making waves with what you do, it helps if people know about it. Sharing your innovations with your peers increases your chances of finding collaborative partners, funding, and general recognition for your contributions. At a cross-sector conference, you have an even broader reach and a bigger trophy (like the $5 million dollar prizes at Rally).
We think conferences are a hugely important part of thought leadership and innovation in every field. That’s why we’ve created Rally, the largest global cross-sector innovation conference anywhere. Rally aims to create interconnection between tech leaders in diverse fields to increase technology innovations everywhere. We’re the perfect place for entrepreneurs, business leaders, universities, and investors to grow and learn together. Rally features meetups, demos, startup spotlights, keynote speakers, workshops and networking events to maximize your conference experience. Don’t miss the best three days in tech innovation. Register for Rally in Indianapolis, IN on August 27 & 28, 2024.