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GEPID-U.S. Conference, March 2024
03-10-2024 - 03-14-2024

The ISGP GEPID conference, being convened in collaboration with the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the School of Advanced International Studies...    

ISGP Podcast: Robot Arms and High-Tech Farms

Overcoming food security challenges will involve addressing distribution, nutrition, environmental, and social concerns. It’s not just about producing enough calories. How can new technologies, including robots and data analytics, be of assistance?

Dr. Evan Fraser, the Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security, Professor of Geography at the University of Guelph, and Director of the Arrel Food Institute, tries to answer the major problem of how we can feed the world’s growing population without undermining the ecosystems on which we depend for life. Many experts say the root of this problem is a need to produce 70% more food by 2050 because of the population growth.

His paper, “The Next Agricultural Revolution?” was debated at an ISGP conference titled Equitable, Sustainable, and Healthy Food Environments, which was convened in partnership with Simon Fraser University in Vancouver in 2016.

The key to achieving food security in the future is finding a balance between agricultural expansion, food production, food distribution, and protection of our natural resources. Machine learning, cloud computing, and the ability to collect vast amounts of real-time data from farms will allow farmers to tailor inputs and management far more precisely and with much greater efficiency.

The dairy industry is at the frontier of this big data transition. The “robotic milker” takes the place of human labor in many modern dairy barns. There also are tractors that are run by computers and can “learn.”

The podcast hosts discuss the possible issues of robotic farming alongside its possible benefits. As they point out, there are no easy answers: Such technologies cannot be considered a panacea and in many areas they could be extremely disruptive.

For more podcasts on this topic and others, visit ISGP’s The Forum and please consider sharing this episode with others.