Agricultural methods

A higher worldwide population and the challenges posed by climate change are shaping farming practices and driving the move to sustainable agriculture worldwide. Producers are adapting their cultivation and agronomic methods to meet the challenges and maintain profits. The objective for the next 50 years is to produce more and better through sustainable, precision farming. 

Minimum Tillage

Min-till or reduced tillage is cultivating land using mechanical methods other than ploughing to reduce soil disturbance. The method has been growing in popularity and there are new machines designed ...

Changing agricultural practices

stubble cultivator working in field after the end of winter

Meeting both quantitative and qualitative challenges 

With the introduction of inputs and animated tools, modern farming feeds a population 6 times larger than 200 years ago. For several decades now, alternatives to conventional agriculture have been increasing. Methods that meet very present-day objectives, while conserving productivity, performance, and resources, i.e., sustainable or integrated agriculture, soil- conservation agriculture, organic farming, and even agroforestry and permaculture.

a clump of dry, crumbly soil in hands against a backdrop of a soil field

Ecosystem approaches to sustainable agricultural practices

In order to adapt farming techniques to global challenges and survive in an increasingly uncertain economic environment, agriculture practices are adapting. They are becoming more sustainable, economically, socially, and environmentally. They are becoming less dependent on plant-protection products and incorporating new biocontrol technologies for cereal crops and other plants. There is more communication locally, with the community, with fellow farmers, and applied research organisations. The aim is to reduce the burden on farmers by finding solutions and applying common agricultural policy in the community.

What agricultural innovations have been developed?

Traditionally, ploughing is one of the basic techniques in farming. It has been used for centuries. It is still an effective means of controlling weeds and preparing a suitable seedbed for the future crop. To combat erosion, some farmers are turning to soil conservation agriculture (SCA) systems. This is particularly the case in America and Australia, and to a lesser extent in Europe. This method involves very little, if any, tillage, and requires more rigorous crop rotation and permanent soil cover. This is one of many examples of SCA that illustrates the need for greater technical expertise and support for alternative practices.

Implementing alternative practices on farmland

Tillage tools are continuously being improved, with more choice and an accumulation of expertise, as well as partnerships with technical institutes and pilot farms. Manufacturers are now offering innovative tillage tools to limit inputs, and digital equipment, such as sensors, to collect and analyse data, which even makes it possible to recognise weeds in the plot. They are starting to introduce specific machines to meet the requirements of new crop-management techniques. For instance, seed drills capable of planting in residues, and more recently, autonomous robots for seeding and weeding.

What agricultural practices will be used in 2050?

Producing more and better with less waste, pesticide, fertiliser and emissions will undoubtedly require a third revolution, based on the mastery of digital technology, robotics, and genetics. Farm managers are already making use of innovations with a host of connected devices: weather stations, autonomous machines, GPS, ISOBUS language, etc. The results are impressive and the technical advances in agriculture very promising. It's a safe bet that by 2050, this type of technology will be commonplace, and necessary to respond to the challenges of future agricultural production.

KUHN's vision of autonomous crop production that works independently in the field