When I got my MSc degree in Agronomy at UC Davis in 2001, I was literally the last person to get such a degree because they ended the major. At the time I wondered if there was no more need for agronomic science. Did we already know everything we needed to know? Not by a mile, as it turns out. But at the time, there were real barriers to doing agronomic science at scale on the farm, not to mention delivering granular insights while they were still actionable. Heck, those barriers are only barely coming down now!
I know we’re not there yet, because the average
farm’s yields are only about half as much as the best farm, and the best farm is only about 80% of potential yield. If we take the value of global agriculture as $3.4T, then we have about $1T in efficiency to generate from better agronomic science. To get there, every grower needs to make the exact right decision in every field, the entire season. And of the food that is grown, only about a third
of that makes it to where it’s supposed to go, as food, fiber, and fuel. The global food industry is $4.4T. Let’s say that food loss is about another $1T of value that is destroyed by inefficiency. To solve that problem, packers, processors, and shippers need confident predictions of timing, quality, and yield to meet demand with supply at a viable price.
This future is possible. Actually, it’s here. We are accelerating discovery, and we are turning insights into recommendations. We are translating data into decisions that enable farmers to break through entrenched roadblocks and unlock new pathways to rural prosperity, from the ground up.Adam Wolf is Founder and Chief Scientist of Arable.September 18, 2018 was Arable’s fourth anniversary.