The Fourth Agricultural Revolution Is Here, So Are We Ready For This?

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While some say that artificial intelligence will stimulate our productivity by freeing us from monotonous jobs, some believe that it leads us to a dystopia dominated by unemployment and automatic slavery.

When it comes to agriculture, some researchers, business people, and politicians; say that artificial intelligence and advanced technology have very good results, and they call it the “fourth agricultural revolution.” In the future, the radical changes that agricultural technology can bring with it can result in good or bad results. However, we need to stop and think before the revolution knocks on our door.

This revolution; The farmer (regardless of size or company), landowner, farmworker, village people, or the general public should benefit everyone. But a new study directed by researcher Hannah Barrett; turned out that decision-makers and the media did not reflect the fourth agricultural revolution wonderfully and give much attention to its possible bad consequences.

My first attitude revolution came about 12,000 years ago when people started farming. The second was the reorganization of agricultural land from the 17th century until the end of feudalism in Europe. The third was the introduction of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, high-yield crops, and heavy machinery in the ’50 – ’60 years (also called the Green Revolution).

The fourth agricultural revolution, like the fourth industrial revolution, is called the changes that are thought to be brought about by new technologies, especially AI, to make more rational decisions and take advantage of robots. These smart machines can be used to grow crops, harvest, hoe grass, milk animals, and distribute chemical crops with drones.

Genome editing of new species is another agriculture-specific technology used to increase yields and produce disease-resistant crops. Vertical farming and culture meat can also be included in this group. Large financial supports and investments are made in these technologies to increase food production while preventing further environmental damage.

The positive approach of the media may have also paved the way for this. Our research revealed that the news on new farming technologies in the UK is more positive and they write that they will play a key role in solving agricultural challenges.

However, many agricultural developments in the past also attracted the same attention at first, but subsequently led to controversy. Examples are genetically modified crops and chemicals such as DDT pesticides that are now banned.

Considering that there is a lot of controversy about emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and autonomous cars, it would be unreasonable not to confirm the news and to speak blindly optimistic. If you think that new agricultural technologies can be applied without solving a few major problems, you are wrong.

In past peers, we have seen that the benefits of technology do not reach everyone equally and some people have been wronged. We must figure out who will be wronged and think about what to do. We must also ask the question of whether new technologies can benefit as much as advertised.

Milking robots are a good example. One farmer participating in our research said that using robots improves work-life balance and that the disabled farm worker can more easily avoid manual labor on the farm.

NFU Technology Contributes

He added, though, that ultimately they were experiencing a “different stress” from the information overload and the fact that he had to observe the data all day. The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) argued that new technologies are more attractive to young people and candidate farmers with higher technical skills, thus contributing to the older workforce.

With such good developments, people from different levels start to engage in farming. Thus, increasing the use of machines eliminates many clichés.

But current farmworkers will of course look further at this idea of ​​change, fearing that machines will replace them or that their skills will not be sufficient for modern agriculture. They will also not like the idea of ​​relying on machines instead of their knowledge and working less in the field.

Power imbalance

With the new revolution, power imbalances can also appear. According to our research, some farmers are optimistic about the high-tech future.

But others are doubtful whether people with little capital, unsuitable broadband, undeveloped IT skills, and lack of access to information on how to use technology can benefit from it.

History has shown us that while technology companies and large farm businesses are the winners of such changes, small family farms are unable to achieve these changes. In the fourth agricultural revolution, this could mean that farmers do not have or cannot access data collected by new technologies.

At this point, they can turn to companies to provide increasingly complex tools. The debates about GMO crops (created by adding DNA from other organisms.) Are also plain proof that the public will not adopt every new technology.

If the public equates gene editing (small, controlled changes in DNA of living organisms) with GMOs, we may encounter a similar contrast. Although advocates of wearable technology for livestock say that it increases well-being, the public may argue that animals are treated like machines with such tools.

Rather than be blindly optimistic, we must find out how the fourth agricultural revolution will benefit and harm to whom. By involving people from many different levels in this process, we can create responsible goals that will encompass everyone in the future of agriculture.

The NFU said of the fourth agricultural revolution, “exciting but a little scary… but these two usually arm in arm”. We must also vigorously discuss the scares, with exciting points.

Do you approve GMO applications aimed at growing food for the growing population?