Company NewsOctober 14, 2022

Improving food security with precision agriculture and robots

Agricultural companies around the world are using Dassault Systèmes’ solutions to fight hunger and improve food security.
Avatar Melissa Russell

Six years ago, international organizations were optimistic that hunger and malnutrition would be ended by 2030. But today, due to a global pandemic, war, climate change and economic slowdown, the world is in a very different place, and inequality, food insecurity and malnutrition have instead increased worldwide.

In 2020, between 720 and 811 million people faced hunger – 118 million more than in 2019. Nearly one in three people did not have access to adequate food in 2020. Of the millions of undernourished people in 2020, 418 million live in Asia, 282 million live in Africa and 60 million live in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Partly due to the lasting impacts of COVID-19, an estimated 30 million more people will be suffering from food insecurity in 2030. That’s double the current US population.

It is clear that bold action is needed if world hunger is to be eradicated.

Image courtesy of Maschio Gaspardo

Where is hunger the most acute?

In 1945, the United Nations declared World Food Day, celebrated this year on Oct. 16, to commemorate the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). While the annual commemoration is a reminder of the challenges that hinder the eradication of world hunger, it is also a celebration of the work being done to meet those challenges.

According to the FAO, while enough food is produced today to feed everyone on the planet, the problem is access. More than 80% of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas, are the most impacted by natural and manmade disasters, and it is a struggle for them to gain access to training, finance and technology.

What is being done to improve food security?

New technologies supporting innovative and sustainable approaches to farming are one way the problem of world hunger is being addressed.

Based in Germany, CLAAS, a 100-year-old producer of agricultural engineering equipment, is working with Dassault Systemes to develop the next generation of strategic software to help create a sustainable food supply for a global population projected to rise from 7 to 10 billion in the coming years.

“Scarcity of food supply all over the world is one of the challenges we are facing,” CLAAS CEO Thomas Bock said in an interview with 3DS Vice President of Industrial Equipment Philippe Bartisol. “So we are helping our customers grow their food and to distribute it.

Software-driven farm equipment using GPS technology allows for precision farming, Bock explained. CLAAS’s 365 FarmNet, for example, is a digital platform for farm management that brings data from farm fields, weather and satellites together to improve the business of agriculture.

Italian agricultural equipment manufacturer Maschio Gaspardo also takes a proactive approach to developing sustainable and efficient farming solutions.

“The population we have to feed is growing while the land stays the same,” said Maschio Gaspardo CEO Mirco Maschio. “This is why sustainability is key. We need to protect and be careful with what feeds us and be efficient in how we use our land to ensure our future.”

Maschio Gaspardo has long used CATIA for its design needs and adopted the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to enhance collaborative capabilities as it expended into China and India. They’ll create virtual twins of machines in the design stage, drastically reducing the time, waste and cost associated with physical prototypes. The faster process helps Maschio Gaspardo rapidly respond to farmers’ evolving needs, like with their new high-speed planter, the Chrono, which can double a farmer’s productivity.   

Another way to improve farming efficiency? Robots.

AgreenCulture, a French startup supported by the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab, develops and produces smart agricultural robots able to automate repetitive tasks while carrying or towing a range of equipment, working much faster than a farmer driving a tractor. Their goal is to promote sustainable farming by bringing down the cost of food production.

3DEXPERIENCE Lab member AgreenCulture’s versatile robot can accomplish in an hour what a farmer on a tractor could do in a day. (Image courtuesy Agreenculture)

Future vision for sustainable agriculture

Solving the problem of world hunger will take innovation and experimentation.

One bold approach known as Agritecture, or vertical farming, is a growing field that blends nature with architecture in order to grow more food in less space. The idea of growing crops indoors without soil, free of pests and using very little water, where climate can be controlled year-round, has captured the captured the imaginations of architects, engineers, scientists, urban planners and entrepreneurs. A vertical farm could grow more per acre than traditional dirt farming, and growing food near urban centers would result in food arriving on tables faster and fresher.

The visionary Interstellar Lab, a French-American start up, is looking beyond the planet for solutions to hunger. The company develops and builds closed-loop habitats and biospheres to generate and recycle food, water and air to support human life sustainably on any planet – on Earth first and, in the future, on Mars and the Moon, and could also be used to protect Earth’s biodiversity.A self-sustaining food production system called BioPod was designed to withstand extreme climates and reduce the land and water needed to produce food on Earth by 99%. Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform powered the design and development processes of this innovative technology.

As the FAO states in its 2022 report on world hunger, it is time to build a sustainable world where everyone, everywhere has access to enough nutritious food. Denying progress for some means limiting progress for all. No one should be left behind.

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