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070 – Future of Farming, a conversation with Padraic Flood

070 – Future of Farming, a conversation with Padraic Flood

VonZukunft Denken – Podcast


070 – Future of Farming, a conversation with Padraic Flood

VonZukunft Denken – Podcast

Bewertungen:
Länge:
79 Minuten
Freigegeben:
7. März 2023
Format:
Podcastfolge

Beschreibung

Today's topic is future of farming. Farming is a bedrock of our society and culture, and at the same time one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation. So, how we can feed the population of the world in the future sustainably is a subject I wanted to cover already for some time. But it was important to find an expert who can bring together theoretical knowledge and real business application and experience.
I am very happy that Pádraic Flood agreed to join me for this conversation. He is currently team lead for crop genetics at Infarm, a vertical farming company.
Before he joined Infarm, Pádraic served as a research scientist at Wageningen University, one of the world’s top agricultural research institutions, where he also completed his Ph.D. Before that, Pádraic held an appointment at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research. 
Over the past decade, Pádraic has worked in universities using genetics to understand key scientific questions ranging from photosynthesis to how plants adapt to extreme environments.
Pádraic is not only an excellent scientist, but deeply passionate about tackling the challenge of feeding the world without destroying the environment. In addition to breeding and improving crops currently cultivated by infarm, he is pursuing ways to make staple crops viable in indoor farming which, if successful, could free up vast areas of land for nature and biodiversity restoration and go a long way towards achieving food security.
As farming as bedrock of our society we start with a look into our past. What is domestication and breeding? What are we eating today? Old species, e.g. maize are unrecognisable in the original form compared with our modern ones. Breeding was an intergenerational project of humanity. So, what is natural? Unnatural? Is unatural, what is created by humans — which seems to be a rather strange idea?
Also, farming was independently discovered seven times around the world — what does that tell us? What is convergent evolution? 
Then we discuss the impacts of farming on nature and environment. How can we reduce the impact of farming while at the same time producing enough food for humanity.
What are GMOs and how is genetic modification different from older breeding technologies?
Then we talk about the 20th century. Were the Malthusian warning voices correct?  How did Paul Ehrlichs “population bomb” play out and what did the green revolution with Norman Borlaugh achieve?

“rising food production reduced the malnutrition rate from 2 in 3 people in 1950 to 1 in 11 by 2019. This impressive achievement is even more noteworthy if expressed in a way that accounts for the intervening large-scale increase of the global population, from about 2.5 billion people in 1950 to 7.7 billion in 2019. […] we could not harvest such abundance, and in such a highly predictable manner, without the still-rising inputs of fossil fuels and electricity.”, Vaclav Smil

Modern technology and energy production managed to reduce the labor needed to produce a kilogram of grain by more than 98 percent between 1800 and 2020.

“Growing the grain, milling it, and baking a 1-kilogram sourdough loaf thus requires an energy input equivalent of at least 250 milliliters of diesel fuel.”  (150-500ml Diesel per kg tomatoes in Spain (unheated / heated) — ~ same amount like chicken), ibid

Which role do agricultural chemicals role such as herbicides and fertilisers play?
Agriculture is not only about carbon emissions. Purely looking at it through a “carbon lense” is misleading, more relevant seems the planetary boundaries framework. For instance the role of biodiversity, land use and other impacts are of huge importance. Land use is one of the major concerns, considering thet 50% of habitable land mass is used by agriculture.
Carbon tunnel vision is a real issue today and leads to significant mistakes in politics and activism, as I have discussed in other podcast episodes already.

Planetary Boundaries, J. Lokrantz/
Freigegeben:
7. März 2023
Format:
Podcastfolge

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