Today, the international agricultural community recognizes the urgent need for the transition to agroecology. Developing and implementing optimal algorithms to do it as efficiently and fast as possible is the need of the hour. Such need for change comes from ineffective and non-environmentally conscious approaches to agriculture that have been in use before. Those approaches have led to global issues that can be solved only by transitioning to agroecology. Let’s see what are the biggest and most threatening of those issues.
1. General Food Crisis
This takes into account all food-related problems, which lead to undernutrition (lack of access to sufficient calories), malnutrition (overweight, obesity, diet-related diseases), and the so-called “hidden hunger” (insufficient intake of important vitamins and minerals).
2. Lack of government support for farmers
The issue here is that “small” farmers are leaving rural areas or are being forced to leave their land due to either the lack of governmental support or intervention for agriculture, including agricultural banks, research, infrastructure, and access to technologies that farmers need to operate successfully.
3. Climate change
This is an issue connected to biodiversity loss and negative changes to ecosystems, including losses of unique organisms. It threatens agriculture as the latter greatly depends on the ecosystem functioning properly and complex interactions between various organisms.
4. Rapid urbanization
Partly due to the lack of government support for smallholder farmers, the process of urbanization is speeding up every year. This results in the high availability of cheap processed foods and animal products.
So, how can agroecology help change the state of things and battle these issues?
Agroecology and its Principles as a Solution
Agroecology is based on the principles of agronomy, ecology, and horticulture, being particularly linked to ecology. Advancements in the field of ecology have provided insights into the principles of ecosystems and organisms interaction. Throughout decades of development, agroecology has built its main principles for successful implementation.
a. Economic principles
- Creating a social and solidarity-based vision of economy
- Development of fair and short distribution networks
- Producers collaboration
- Farm incomes diversification to ensure viability and autonomy
- Enhancement of the local markets’ power
b. Political principles
- People being in control of land, seed, and farming territories
- Support of new forms of collective, decentralized, and participatory food systems governance
- Decision-making with significant participation of food producers and consumers
- Encouragement of investments and public policies development
c. Environmental principles
- Maintaining biodiversity and soils
- Active adaptation to climate change
- Support of different agro-ecosystems elements integration
- Gradually moving away from dependance on agrochemicals
d. Socio-cultural principles
- Knowledge and experience exchange between farmers
- Support of local communities and food producers
- Promotion of healthy nutrition and livelihoods
- Support of different forms of diversity and solidarity among people
Although following these principles is not easy, there are ways to help with their easier implementation. And those ways are the practices of precision agriculture.
Precision Agriculture and Sustainability
Transition to agroecology implies development and use of innovations to allow responding to real user needs via new technologies. The purpose of this is to ensure harmonisation with ecological processes, proper use of biodiversity, low external inputs, and fostering of agricultural knowledge. And this is what sustainable agriculture is for.
Sustainability implies the use of modern farming technologies to perform the so-called “smart” farming. These precision agriculture methods include satellite navigation, data sensors use, and the use of big data to enhance and fasten decision-making for farmers. This results in higher cost efficiency, reduced environmental impact and increased product quantity and quality.
Growers are now able to take advantage of numerous precision farming online services that utilise satellite-retrieved data, allowing for easy and remote access to previously analyzed needed information. One of such tools is Crop Monitoring by EOS. The platform uses satellite imagery, analyzing it on-the-fly, and offering users all the necessary information on their fields on one screen. The features include:
- Field monitoring based on NDVI, NDRE, MSAVI, RECI, and NDMI indices analysis
- Field zoning, allowing to easily identify field’s most productive areas
- Weather data (current, historical, and 14-days forecast)
- Field leaderboard, allowing to see fields sorted out by NDVI value change
- Field activity log, allowing to easily track different activities performed on all fields
Ultimately, the quick and effective transition to agroecology is only possible through the utilization of technological breakthroughs. Such transition could at least partially solve the issues related to the world food crisis as well as have a positive impact on agro business for smallholders around the globe.