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Châtenay-Malabry (FR - 92290), April 20, 2020

Complement of the EFITA newsletter / 926 - European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and the Environment /special Virus

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In a Crisis, Pessimism Is Natural but Realism Is Crucial, by Marian L. Tupy

“In every age everybody knows that up to his own time, progressive improvement has been taking place; nobody seems to reckon on any improvement in the next generation. We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who say society has reached a turning point – that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us and with just as much apparent reason... On what principle is it that with nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?”
Thomas Babington MACAULAY, British historian and statesman (1830)

God, Science and COVID-19 by Gabriel Waksman

The Covid-19 pandemic is a tragedy of epic proportions. As the situation appears to go from bad to worse, many, including myself, have started receiving video links, poems, and other pieces of writing, all religious in nature, from friends, neighbours or prayer groups. All these were very well intended. They saw distress and thought that…


How we saw the future yesterday?

The Past Is Littered With Foods Of The Future

Arthur Radebaugh imagined gigantic crops in his syndicated Sunday comic strip Closer Than We Think, which ran from 1958 until 1963.





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Cargill and Agrocorp complete groundbreaking $12m intercontinental wheat trade on blockchain

Agribusiness giants Cargill and Agrocorp have completed a groundbreaking grain deal that provides a taster of how cross-border food commodity trading could become much faster and more frictionless in the future.

Tapping into Hyperledger Fabric – an open-source blockchain technology – US-based Cargill was able to complete the sale of a consignment of wheat worth $12 million to Singapore’s Agrocorp in a matter of hours, compared to the several weeks normally required for such a process.

Blockchain tech could prove particularly useful for keeping supply chains open in conditions like those brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, given its ability to effectively remove many of the physical touchpoints typically associated with the foodstuffs trade.

Philippines turbocharges farm-2-consumer marketplace program to soften Covid-19 blow

The government of the Philippines is boosting a state-led agribusiness marketplace initiative with technology and private sector partnerships to help farmers and consumers during the Covid-19 crisis.

The country’s Department of Agriculture (DA) originally launched the project alongside the Department of Interior & Local Government and state-owned enterprise Food Terminal Inc in September last year.

Named ‘Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita,’ the initiative aims to link farmers, growers, and fishermen directly with Filipino consumers, in order to provide low-income households with access to cheap and fresh local produce.

Grow crops like a fighter pilot

The next harvest is becoming a matter of economic survival for some growers in uncertain times. With trade wars, pandemics and market plunges, farmers now more than ever need every edge they can get to make the most of the growing season. One thing they can do to up their game is to take inspiration from fighter pilots.

Fighter pilots have mere seconds to make complex decisions carrying life-and-death consequences. They’re under more than just financial pressure, and they’ve developed a detailed framework to help them cope. This framework can help growers.

Good old days (?????): The Harvest, 1883, by Camille Pissarro

What are farmers thinking about agtech during Covid-19?

Many of the world’s leading industries are grinding to a halt as governments across the globe attempt to thwart the further spread of Covid-19. Industries that involve bringing large numbers of people together physically are bearing the brunt, including sporting events, restaurants, education, and tourism. But there are a few that have been deemed essential to everyday life, including healthcare, emergency services, food manufacturing, and farming.

In uncertain times, there are a few things that are certain; farmers will soon be planting new crops in the Northern Hemisphere and harvesting in the South, livestock will continue to eat and produce offspring, and people will continue to eat. How these different activities come to bear might be different, but they cannot be canceled altogether like a conference or a college football game.

China's agrifood startups raised $3.6bn in 2019

AgFunder's China AgriFood Startup Investing Report 2019 reveals that Chinese food and agriculture startups raised $3.6 billion last year, down 38% from 2018's $5.8 billion. The decrease is partly explained by the absence of outsize transactions like the previous year's, such as Meituan Dianping's $1.5 billion pre-IPO raise. However, China's slowing GDP growth rate, its ‘trade war’ with the US, and the African swine fever outbreak also likely played their part.

Agri-robotics for a Sustainable Farming Future

With its European research facility nestled in the hills above Florence, Italy, Yanmar R&D Europe (YRE) is well placed to focus on a variety of field-based studies to bring added value to the agriculture industry – and possibly even attract a new generation of workers to the land. These include the two-year, four-million Euros ‘SMASH’ project being carried out in cooperation with 10 technology partners to develop a mobile agricultural ‘eco-system’ to monitor, analyse and manage agricultural crops.
See yanmar robot in Italy


Calculating soil moisture from space earns VanderSat fresh funding from impact investor, by Richard Martyn-Hemphill

...But the Dutch company VanderSat has a more drastic idea, one that’s kind of out of this world. Namely, measure and map the soil’s moisture from a constellation of satellites in space using “passive microwave” technology, accompanied by a lot of complex mathematics to make sense of the data.

VanderSat For Agriculture

What if smarter satellite observations could lead to better irrigation, less pesticide and fertilizer use, and improved commodity trading strategies?

Coronavirus increases demand for remote field monitoring

Remote field monitoring systems can help farmers keep an eye on their fields, while staying in quarantine, says Gottfried Pessl of Pessl Instruments.


John Deere Autotrac Vision for tractors and sprayers

Autotrac Vision uses a hi-res front-mounted camera to automatically guide machinery down established crop rows.

Sensoterra and NNNCo partner in soil moisture monitoring

Sensoterra and NNNCo aim to bring affordable soil moisture monitoring to the Asia Pacific region.

FJ Dynamics to launch LandMaster Navigation in Europe

FJ Dynamics’ LandMaster Navigation System uses AI for automatically straight driving.

Good old days (?????): Paysanne démêlant de la laine 1875, par Camille Pissarro


How agtech helps Chinese farmers recover from coronavirus outbreak

While China is slowly recovering from the coronavirus outbreak, agtech is helping farmers to prepare for spring planting.
How can agtech help prepare for spring planting?

IGS builds the Intelligent Growth system, a revolutionary and totally controlled environment for agriculture

Intelligent Growth is 100% Internet of Things enabled and powered by a 3-tier Artificial Intelligence back-end to deliver dramatic productivity benefits: 2-3x yield with quality and consistency, using 50% less energy and 80% less labour.

YieldTec robots to end labour shortages in orchards

New Zealand startup YieldTec wants to introduce robots to fruit picking.

Good old days (?????): Peasant Girl Laboring - Camille Pissarro


Amid strained supply chains, Singapore launches $21m grant program to boost local production, by Jack Ellis

How Iowa’s startup ecosystem is supporting agtech startups?


Is California willing to solve its water crisis? By Sean Hood

The same environmental-permitting challenges inhibit potential desalination pipeline projects.  While desalination success stories do exist in California (the most prominent being the Carlsbad Desalination Project), the rareness of inland pipelines in a coastal state with unlimited ocean water exemplifies the regulatory barriers to resolving the water crisis in California’s Central Valley. If California is serious about solving groundwater overdraft without significant disruption to our national food supply, it needs to approach water and environmental regulations in a more pragmatic way. To date, there is no indication that California has any appetite to moderate its regulatory stance. 

In light of these outward signals of California’s policy concerning water and environmental regulations, it is fair to wonder:  is California willing to solve its water crisis?

Organic vs. GMOs: six recurring a priori of an ideological debate, by Agnès Ricroch

The groundbreaking documentary Food Evolution offered the general public a science-based introduction to crop biotechnology, revealing how activists attack it and debunking some of the more pernicious myths about GMOs along the way. After watching the film and attending a debate immediately following the screening between the French National Federation of Organic Farming (FNAB) and several experts on GMO and gene-edited plants, it was clear to me that many organic food advocates and large swaths of the general public still accept a lot blatant untruths about biotechnology and its impacts on food safety and environmental sustainability.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with growing and consuming organic food. What is worrying, however, is that the evidence has conclusively refuted these falsehoods, which originated more than twenty years ago and are still promoted by people do not want to recognize what scientists have discovered about crop biotechnology.

Returning to the aforementioned debate, here are six anti-biotech arguments that are still used to mislead consumers about GMOs and need to be put to rest for good.


Advanced plant breeding shows path to greater climate resilience

Zoom Is a Nightmare. So Why Is Everyone Still Using It? And will we keep using it when all of this is over? By Simon Pitt

China: The Rat Tribe








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