The Future of Agriculture is Smart

By Ananda Fitzsimmons

There is no question that agriculture is changing.

Current farming practices that rely on pesticides and chemical fertilizers have hit the ceiling of yields that can be produced. The general public is very aware of obvious environmental problems such as accumulation of chemical residues in soil and waterways. Fortunately, the seeds of change have been sown. Innovation has been burgeoning gradually over the last 30 years and new technology is emerging in the marketplace, largely driven by advances in information technology.

Driven by the controversy around Genetically Modified Organisms, plant breeding has taken a more subtle tack. A whole spectrum of methods based on the ability to read DNA are developing. By using markers to identify specific traits, conventional plant breeding has become more accelerated and sophisticated. Rather than taking years, breeders can now zone in on activities in the plant’s DNA to identify and select desirable traits.

Going a bit further, there is gene editing. Instead of inserting DNA from unrelated organisms, techniques now exist to insert or deactivate traits within the same species, to create more robust or disease-resistant plants. Researchers argue that this is not such a leap from the natural process of species evolution and hope that it will be more accepted by the public than earlier transgenic technology.

Then there is the trend towards use of information technologies on farms. From drones to GPS on farm machinery, which map data and provide information to the grower, to indoor growing systems that are more like factories than farms, farming is becoming high-tech. The ability to understand and monitor precisely what is happening in every section of the operation enables growers to make adjustments to their inputs. Fertilizer and water are applied only when needed, driven by the information provided by sensors and maps. Robots will soon be able to detect weeds, ripening fruit, or sick plants and respond with precision to pick or treat as needed. Whereas farmers used to treat the whole field for the lowest common denominator, this allows for reductions in inputs of chemicals and fertilizers.

And last, but certainly not least, is microbiome technology, the space in which Inocucor operates. Information and analytical technology have enabled our scientists to understand the language between plants and microbes. Plants and microbes communicate through the exchange of bio-chemical signals, also known as quorum sensing.

With our emerging ability to detect and decode this language comes the possibility to optimize the interactions that help plants use nutrients, cope with stress and fend off disease. Every microorganism in the plant microbiome creates an array of bio-chemicals which contribute to the conversation between plants, microbes and soil. Analytical technology enables us to identify beneficial microbes and the substances they make and to understand their importance to healthy plant growth. As we optimize specialized products with little or no negative impact on the environment, agriculture becomes smarter, and we can feed a growing population while preserving natural resources.

ABOUT INOCUCOR TECHNOLOGIES INC.

Inocucor Technologies Inc., based in Montreal, is an ag biotech company that develops sustainable biological products for agriculture targeting the phyto-microbiome—the seeds, plants, root systems and the soil surrounding them. Inocucor’s first-generation product, Garden Solution®, soon to be re-branded as Synergro, employs live microbes to actively improve the health of the entire phyto-microbiome. Its second product, Synergro Free and future generations of Inocucor products are powerful biological formulations for bio-stimulation, bio-fertility and bio-control targeting mainstream production agriculture.

For more information, visit www.inocucor.com.

ino_about