Helping to build a sustainable future

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Professionals and academics were gathered November 13th, 2019 in the university of Guelph, Ontario to discuss about “agriculture with less: sustainability from farm to fork”. This symposium was part of the plant sciences symposium series, which aim at supporting the training of the next generation of scientists.[1] I had the chance to be invited as a speaker and learn a lot about sustainable agriculture.

The key speaker, Dr Martin Gooch, CEO of Value Chain Management International, highlighted that 49% of the food waste takes place between food production and retail stores, while 51% takes place at homes and restaurants.[2]

For my presentation I Marion Limberger, Predictive Ag scientist at Corteva, showed how we can decrease the 10% waste in the field thanks to digital tools. I am part of the Predictive ag department, when we leverage what is developed in Research and Development and see how we can develop digital prototypes to help our colleagues in the field. Corteva R&D developed a smartphone app that takes images of ear of corns in the field and instantaneously gives a kernel counts and a yield estimate. With this tool, we know exactly how much bags of seed we can produce and sell from one single production field, so we can better manage field inputs and have a positive impact on the environment. This app is using machine learning, which is the same algorithm used by banking mobile app to allow us to deposit checks through a smartphone app. Instead of deciphering handwriting on a check, this time the deep-learning algorithm identifies kernels on an ear of corn and helps estimate yield for an entire field.

I only mentioned one of the digital tools used by Corteva that can help reducing the environmental impact of agriculture, but others are being developed as well to help reducing food waste in transportation and packaging.

For more information on the subject, check out the other speakers who participated to this event.[3]