It’s a new year and the start of the post-holiday news cycle, and I’ll be honest, I may still be slow and groggy from all that rich holiday food. Interestingly enough, food seems to be at the top of a couple of news feeds this weekend – not necessarily about better recipes, but instead, about agriculture and the technology supporting it.

Credit flickr, World Bank Photo Collection

Credit flickr, World Bank Photo Collection. Workers in Argentina pick strawberries.

CNBC reported recently that there’s actually a lot of money and attention being paid to the equipment and technology used on farms worldwide. This is because more countries across the world have reached a key level of economic prosperity and demand for healthier, protein-rich food has increased, especially in China and India. This has led to a boom in the amount of venture capital dedicated to the field (ha.) and a spike in need to re-imagine how the cultivation process works, with the global population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050.

Successful developments

Countries like Japan and Australia are successfully and pervasively using drones for things like mapping and assessing the health of large swaths of crops – or thing as detailed as remembering and zooming in on a given plant in acres of farmland, comparing its growth and wellbeing over time. Drones are not yet permitted for use on farms in the U.S., since the FAA currently drafting rules governing drone use. But there are big developments in ultra-precise equipment and autonomous vehicles to fill the market before drones can take to the sky. There’s even a device that detects which crops in a given field need more fertilizer than the others around it, cutting costs for farmers by limiting excess application of expensive chemicals.

Change at the cellular level

While you can easily read any number of heated arguments for or against genetically-modified organisms and potential benefits of eating organic produce versus the modified varieties, there’s no denying that modification of plant life at the is here to stay. There’s research and development in the works for crops with drought resistance and plants that tolerate herbicides, so spraying for those pesky weeds is a little easier.

No list is going to be totally comprehensive on this front, because innovations are happening every day in agriculture, and area which was historically low-tech and labor-intensive.

What innovations are you most excited about for the new year? Were you aware of some of these developments for farming? Have any suggestions for even further improvements?