Productivity and Sustainability
Agriculture is under more and more pressure to contribute more towards environmental sustainability. But it’s important to note that increased productivity is a huge factor in a more sustainable food system.
Smith… “The improvements of agricultural productivity that we’ve seen over the last 50 years have just been astounding. You can just look across multiple crops and you can see those massive increases in productivity and that’s important because as the world gets richer, people demand more and more food products. That’s something that is happening, is going to continue happening as societies around the world get richer and so we need to be continuing to increase agricultural productivity. I do see this next wave of precision agricultural technologies and AIs being a potential source of that increased productivity, and I think we can potentially do it in a way that is environmentally friendly.”
That’s ag economist Dr. Aaron Smith, who believes productivity and sustainability are not mutually exclusive.
Smith… “You can have precision technologies that can apply fertilizer exactly at the time and the location where it’s needed so you're not applying excess that might end up in waterways or you can reduce pesticide use because you’ve got a robot that’s doing the weeding in a very precise way, and so I think these technologies can potentially increase production and also potentially mitigate environmental damages.”
Smith says agriculture’s future depends on learning how to farm productively and protect our resources.