The Future of Farming

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Creation Date March 15th, 2020
Updated Date Updated March 2nd, 2021
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  1. Lēf Farms built a $10 million dollar, state of the art, automated greenhouse, hoping to sell baby greens branded as fresh and local to area grocery stores and restaurants. But even local foods can meet with local opposition when the neighbors see a farm that doesn’t match their expectations for what agriculture should look like.
  2. By 2050, an estimated 10 billion people will live on earth. How are we going to provide everybody with basic needs while also avoiding the worst impacts of climate change? In a talk packed with wit and wisdom, science journalist Charles C. Mann breaks down the proposed solutions and finds that the answers fall into two camps -- wizards and prophets -- while offering his own take on the best path to survival.
  3. People are going bonkers for organic, but what are you really getting when you buy them? Better taste? Fewer toxic chemicals? A cleaner environment? Farmers Mark, Andy, and Brian Reeves, nutritional epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Bradbury, Ass. Prof. Cynthia Curl, and Prof. Navin Ramankutty help us sort it all out. Credits: This episode has been produced by Wendy Zukerman, Heather Rogers, Lynn Levy, Caitlin Kenney, Austin Mitchell, and Kaitlyn Sawrey. Editing by Annie-Rose Strasser and Alex Blumberg. Fact checking by Michelle Harris. Production Assistance by Diane Wu and Shruti Ravindran. Special thanks to Stevie Lane and Joseph Lavelle Wilson. Sound design and music production by Matthew Boll, mixing by Martin Peralta, Austin Thompson and Haley Shaw. Music written by Bobby Lord. Selected Resources:Organic vs conventional tomato taste test Johansson et al, “Preference for tomatoes, affected by sensory attributes and information about growth conditions,” Food Quality and Preference, 1999Nutritional analysis of organic vs organic food Smith-Spangler et al, “Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review,” Annals of Internal Medicine, 2012.2012 USDA report on pesticide residues in organic produceLargest (620,000 women) long-term (9 year) study of how eating organic food affects human health -- focusing on cancer Bradbury et al, “Organic food consumption and the incidence of cancer in a large prospective study of women in the United Kingdom”, British Journal of Cancer, 2014Biodiversity is higher on organic farms “Tuck et al, “Land-use intensity and the effects of organic farming on biodiversity: a hierarchical meta-analysis,” The Journal of Applied Ecology, 2014.Nitrogen leaching is higher per unit product on organic farms Tuomisto et al, “Does organic farming reduce environmental impacts? – A meta-analysis of European research”Crop yield on organic farms is on average 75% that of conventional farms Seufert et al, “Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture,” Nature 2012If we want to feed the world without cutting down more forests, we’re going to need more vegetarians Erb et al, “Exploring the biophysical option space for feeding the world without deforestation,” Nature Communications, 2016On combining organic and conventional farming techniques Letourneau et al, “Crop protection in organic agriculture,” Chapter 4 of Organic agriculture: a global perspective, 2006.
  4. A young farming couple find out they can rehabilitate the environment by the way they farm, but the stakes are high, they could go broke by doing it.
  5. In our increasingly “smart” and connected future, technological advancements will solve various issues facing the agriculture industry––from connectivity dead-zones and data collection to augmenting traditional farming skills and improving crop yield to meet the demand of a growing population. In this episode, we hear from Julian Sanchez, Director of Precision Agriculture at John Deere, about the tools and technology that will transform the efficiency of farming––Kirk Stueve, a farmer, and engineer with Ceres Imaging, a company that uses aerial photography to provide farmers with advanced crop data–– and George Kantor, a researcher and educator at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University where he and his team are working on autonomous and semi-autonomous farming robots. Make sure to check out other episodes in this series featuring: Irene Petrick, Senior Director of Industrial Innovation in the Internet of Things Group at Intel and Sean Petterson, founder of Strongarm Technologies. Learn more about your ad-choices at
  6. You’ve probably heard the hype: CRISPR will revolutionize biotech, cure disease, resurrect extinct species, and even create new-and-(not-so)-improved humans. But what is CRISPR—and what’s it doing in our food? The first generation of genetically modified crops, or GMOs, were labelled “Frankenfoods” by critics and are banned in the European Union. Can CRISPR succeed where fish-tomatoes failed? And what’s yoghurt got to do with it? Listen in this episode for the CRISPR story you haven’t heard—and for a taste of our CRISPRized future. When old-school genetic modification began in the 1980s, scientists typically took a gene that conferred desirable properties in one species—say, cold-tolerance in a winter flounder—and blasted it into the genome of another species—say, a tomato. The hope was that the alien gene would be incorporated, albeit at random, in the host plant’s DNA—and that the resulting hybrid would gain a useful new function. Frost-resistant fish-tomatoes, as it happens, were not particularly successful in field trials, but they also became a symbol for everything that critics—of which there were many—saw as wrong with genetically modified foods. Next-generation gene-editing, using CRISPR, promises to be far more precise, faster, and cheaper. As Jennifer Kuzma, co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University, explained it to Gastropod, if DNA is a book, CRISPR is like a pen. “You can go in and you can edit the letters in a word, or you can change different phrases, or you can edit whole paragraphs at very specific locations,” she said. “Whereas with first-generation transgenic techniques, it was essentially throwing a new paragraph into a book.” CRISPR proponents such as Yiping Qi, a genetics researcher at the University of Maryland, say this new tool promises to transform agriculture. Researchers are already using it to edit a much wider variety of foods—not just commodity crops such as soy and corn, but also more minor vegetable and fruits. “CRISPR has been put into many, many crops—nearly all the crop plants that you can transform,” said Qi, whose lab has already used the technology to dramatically raise yields in rice, but also tweak the color of carrots. And, whereas the majority of first-generation GMOs were simply designed to be herbicide resistant, Kuzma told us that CRISPR is being used to create a much wider variety of traits, “because you don’t need to invest as much money necessarily in the development of the crop.” None of these CRISPRized crops are on supermarket shelves just yet, but several are coming soon. To understand how CRISPR will transform our food, we begin our episode at Dupont’s yoghurt culture facility in Madison, Wisconsin. Senior scientist Dennis Romero tells us the story of CRISPR’s accidental discovery—and its undercover but ubiquitous presence in the dairy aisles today. Jennifer Kuzma and Yiping Qi help us understand the technology’s potential, both good and bad, as well as how it might be regulated and labeled. And Joyce Van Eck, a plant geneticist at the Boyce Thompson Institute in Ithaca, New York, tells us the story of how she is using CRISPR, combined with her understanding of tomato genetics, to fast-track the domestication of one of the Americas’ most delicious orphan crops. So: should we be worried about CRISPR’s unintended consequences for the environment and human health, or excited about what it means for the future of food? Will we all soon be eating CRISPRized dishes—or are we already, and we just don’t know it? Listen in now for the CRISPR story you haven’t heard! Episode Notes Dennis Romero, DuPont Dennis Romero is principal senior scientist and technical fellow at DuPont, where he leads research and development in the company’s dairy cultures business. Joyce Van Eck Joyce Van Eck is associate professor at the Boyce Thompson Institute in Ithaca, New York, where she directs the BTI Center for Plant Biotechnology Research. You can find out more about her ground cherry improvement project online here. And you can read Cynthia’s article about ground cherries, written soon after she tried her first one back in 2007, here. Yiping Qi Yiping Qi is assistant professor in the plant sciences department at the University of Maryland. Earlier this year he published a paper titled “The emerging and uncultivated potential of CRISPR technology in plant science.” Jennifer Kuzma Jennifer Kuzma is a professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina State University, where she also co-directs the Genetic Engineering and Society Center. Transcript For a transcript of the show, please click here. Please note that the transcript is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors The post What’s CRISPR Doing in our Food? appeared first on Gastropod.
  7. The global population is predicted to grow to more than nine billion people by 2050, and with all those extra people will come a need to find more sustainable ways of producing our foods. Square Roots was founded by Tobias Peggs and Kimbal Musk in 2016, and is just one of the companies which is driving an urban farming revolution. Square Roots is building vertical farms in shipping containers, and training a new generation of farmers, in their quest to bring food production closer to where people actually eat it. If you love Moonshot then the best way to help us is to share this episode with a friend, or if you're able, consider supporting us financially on Patreon. All supporters get an ad-free feed, along with bonus episodes, and merch. Visit
  8. Debuting in theaters on May 10, The Biggest Little Farm is a film that follows two urban professionals, John and Mary Chester, as they leave Los Angeles on a mission to build a farm that exists in harmony with nature. Eight years later, the pair owns and operates Apricot Lane Farms, a thriving diversified, organic, biodynamic farm. In this episode, farmer and filmmaker John Chester joins host Lisa Held in the studio to talk about the challenges they faced as new farmers (from foxes and snails to depleted soil and wildfires), the process of making a movie while building a farm, and lessons they learned about building systems alongside the brutality—but also wisdom and intricacies—of nature. Photo courtesy of Apricot Lane Farm. The Farm Report is powered by Simplecast.
  9. Why are companies blasting bottles of alcohol and crops into space? Are they just publicity stunts, or are there some serious scientific discoveries to be made? We explore the potential of space when it comes to producing food and drink - not for astronauts or the first settlers on Mars, but by developing crops that could be more productive and more resistant to climate change here on Earth. A NASA scientist tells Graihagh Jackson how microgravity on the International Space Station could be the key to unlocking the potential of many Earth crops, and a serial entrepreneur explains why he’s investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the idea in a bid to save Bordeaux wine. Plus, we find out how space science has already helped us grow indoor crops and develop more efficient and environmentally friendly fertilisers. (Picture: Planet Earth, composed by NASA images. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)
  10.     Happy New Year, and welcome to everyone listening to the very first episode of the year for the Future of Agriculture podcast. 2019 was such a good year for the show and was rife with amazing guests bearing their trade secrets and intelligent insights into the world of agriculture. To commemorate the year we had, I decided to categorize the overarching themes that summarize what 2019 was like for the Future of Agriculture podcast.   In today’s episode, I discuss the five trends that governed much of the events in 2019. I share a few clips of the most well-received episodes that relate to the trends we had. I discuss some of the trends that we’ll be doing a deeper dive this year and some of the changes that will happen. I also share some of your wonderful ideas and suggestions.       “Technology takes away gatekeepers in the food industry, just as it had done so in other industries.”       This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:   The five themes we discussed in the show throughout 2019. What it means to quantitatively prove farm sustainability The importance of farmer profitability when it comes to innovation Why we should be worried about the future of water for the ag industry Changing Five Minute Farmer to Farmer's Spotlight What's coming for 2020 on the Future of Ag Podcast Ideas to improve the show and audience suggestions.       Resources Mentioned:   Managing the Modern Farm Business with Farmers Justin Dahlgren and Eric Thalken Tackling Tough Questions about AgTech with Renee Vassilos Water Economics with Dr David Zetland Real Meat Without the Animal with Mike Selden of Finless Foods Plant-Based and Cellular Agriculture Alternatives with Bruce Friedrich of GFI             We Are a Part of a Bigger Family!    The Future of Agriculture Podcast is now part of the Farm and Rural Ag Network. Listen to more ag-related podcasts by subscribing on iTunes or on the Farm and Rural Ag Network Website today.      Join the Conversation! To get your most pressing ag questions answered and share your perspective on various topics we’ve discussed on the Future of Agriculture podcast, head over to and leave a recorded message!   Share the Ag-Love!    Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots!    Learn more about AgGrad by visiting:  Future of Agriculture Website AgGrad Website AgGrad on Twitter AgGrad on Facebook AgGrad on LinkedIn AgGrad on Instagram

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