When we think of technology, most of us think about the latest and greatest in artificial intelligence, big data, or even the newest devices. But in truth, it wasn’t always like that. Even stone axes were at one time the latest and greatest technology tool for humankind. But how did we get from stone axes to things like hydroponics and big data? And can an AgTech conference spur even further collaboration and innovation for the agriculture sector? At Rally, we think it can.
Before we talk about our cross-sector innovation conference, let’s focus on some key agricultural innovation topics like,
- How did new technologies lead to an agricultural revolution?
- What is the state of the adoption of technology in agriculture today?
What Are the Major Agricultural Revolutions?
While we often hear the term “agricultural revolution” as a singular event, there are actually three historical agricultural revolutions. And, if you consider the agricultural revolution that’s currently taking place, there are a total of four! Combined, each of these events have transformed the way the world grows, harvests, purchases, and consumes food.
Agricultural Revolution One: Settlements
The first agricultural revolution took place roughly 12,000 years ago—around the end of the most recent Ice Age. During the Neolithic Era and the Ice Age, humans were nomadic. They hunted and gathered their foods, moving as their food sources moved, too. As the Ice Age came to a close, the environments grew more temperate and hospitable, which enabled humans to settle, domesticate plant and animal life, and grow their own food.
What innovations led to the agricultural revolution in this time period? Societal innovation, rather than technological advancement, was the hallmark of this era. Growing communities brought the need for social structures, politics, culture, arts, and more. Some argue that the roots of class systems and social inequity can be traced back to this time period as well. Traditional tools that had been used during hunting and gathering—like stone axes and sickles—were still the favored tools of this time.
Agricultural Revolution Two: Business
The second agricultural revolution, which occurred between 1500 and 1850, coincided with the Industrial Revolution. Societies were rapidly growing and developing, which meant there was an increased demand for food. At the same time, trade routes and capitalism were flourishing, which empowered farmers to export and sell their crops—especially to those regions experiencing food shortages. It was in this period that agriculture transformed from food production to an economic driver.
What was a significant technology for the agricultural revolution in this era? With increased demand, the use of technology in agriculture became critical, and there were three major innovations during this time. First, farmers moved from low-yield crops like rye to higher-yield crops like barley, turnips, and wheat to meet demand. Second, farmers developed chemical fertilizers to support higher outputs. And third, advanced tools, such as mechanical reapers and seed drills, were employed to empower farms to increase production.
Agricultural Revolution Three: Bioengineering
The third agricultural revolution took place in the 1950s and 1960s. Commonly referred to as the Green Revolution, it was sparked by increased urbanization and mass famine—both of which demanded an innovative solution. While Mexico is thought to be the birthplace of the Green Revolution, countries throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America were involved as well. The importance of technology in agriculture in this time cannot be overstated: it empowered countries throughout the world to feed growing, massive populations.
Technology wise, what contributed to the agricultural revolution in this period? There were several new technologies and inventions. Modern irrigation systems enabled farmers in areas with infrequent rainfall to uniformly water crops. The use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers helped to control weeds, combat infestation, and support growth. And for the first time, we produced genetically engineered high-yield crops and hybrid crops that were not as susceptible to climate change and disease.
Agricultural Revolution Four: Technology
The fourth agricultural revolution, aptly referred to as Agriculture 4.0, is here; a movement that focuses on science, technology, efficiency, and sustainability, Agriculture 4.0 aims to address the realities and needs of today and tomorrow’s societies. What does that look like? What will the impact of technology on agriculture be in the years to come? The World Government Summit defined three key priorities for Agriculture 4.0:
- Invest in new production techniques, including hydroponics, algae feedstock, and bioplastics to enable desert and seawater farming initiatives.
- Create efficiencies across the entire food supply chain by continuing to explore vertical and urban farming, genetic modification, 3D printing, and cultured meats.
- Encourage cross-sector collaboration, including drone technology, data analytics, nanotechnology, blockchain, and more to capitalize on innovative thinking.
Of course, accomplishing each of these priorities is easier said than done. But at the heart of these goals lies our ability to work together, share ideas, collaborate, innovate, and listen. And that’s exactly where cross-sector conferences like Rally come into play. Only when we join together and speak with others can we continue to meet the needs of our global community.
Rally: Where Innovation and Collaboration Meet
The world of today and tomorrow demands that we continue to innovate, collaborate, and invest in new and emerging technologies that can truly change our lives. And that’s exactly what Rally aims to do. As the world’s largest cross-sector collaboration conference, Rally brings together industry leaders and learners in the fields of Agriculture & Food, Healthcare, HardTech, software, SportsTech, and Entrepreneurship to forge meaningful connections and conversations.
At Rally, you’ll hear from more than 200 speakers, interact with 5,000 attendees, and even have a chance to score funding at the Rally IN-Prize Pitch Competition!
Secure your spot at the hottest cross-sector conference today.