Precision farming - How data can support sustainable food production
Precision farming addresses the problem that there isn't enough land in production to feed the number of people needing to be fed using current farming methods. With precision agriculture, farmers can use their resources in a smarter way, aided by technology.
For example, using highly accurate data farmers can apply nutrients, water, seed, and other agricultural inputs to grow more crops in a wide range of soil environments. This data lets farmers know how much and when to apply these inputs to use less resources but increase the yield.
Soil maps that identify the spatial distribution of soil texture within the fields can be used to create prescription maps for seed drilling. This is achieved through examining soil conductivity in the fields and assessing which parts of a field are likely to give the better yield.
By observing, measuring and responding to variability in crops within and between fields, using the prescription maps from the soil scanning, the rate controller on the seed drill can variably apply seed across the field. GPS-controlled tractors can ensure this is done in the most efficient way.
ISO has a major focus on precision or ‘smart’ farming. For example, there is a standard in development for the use of drones in farming capable of assessing growth rates, soil conditions and insect infestations with great accuracy (ISO ISO/TC 20/SC 16, unmanned aircraft systems).
By developing standards which provide guidance in what is a very complex situation, these techniques are more likely to become widely disseminated, more quickly, providing the food we all need in a sustainable and responsible way.
The world’s oceans are increasingly subjected to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU) that devastates the environment and endangers the livelihoods of those who fish legally and responsibly.
PAS 1550 addresses the issue of unregulated fishing with the rather long but descriptive title: Exercising due diligence in establishing the legal origin of seafood products and marine ingredients. Importing and processing.
The PAS provides recommendations on how to check that seafood products being imported or processed within the EU are legally sourced and helps importers and processors comply with the EU IUU regulations.
It also provides guidance for organizations involved in the seafood supply chain who have an interest in improving or promoting legal sourcing, full supply chain traceability and decent working conditions. It can also be used by organizations trading products not covered by the EU Regulation against IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing, such as pet food, which they would also want to source legally.
The PAS also gives competent authorities and others (e.g. NGOs, industry associations and certification bodies) a benchmark for developing a due diligence system.
BSI’s aerial compliance programme
BSI is integrating drones in combination with aerial data and analytics to transform audit delivery and agricultural operational management while improving transparency in programmes such as RSPO’s Principles and Criteria. Our innovative pilot programme leverages technology to support the assessment of oil palm plantations to increase the sustainability of this sensitive crop.
Agri-food is the largest sector in the UK and fourth largest in world; generating £121.6bn in revenue and employing four million people in the UK
Primary production (agriculture) has a global value of $494.9bn (£11.2bn in the UK)
With the world population projected to reach 9.9 billion by 2050 (UN), the need for primary production to innovate effectively to meet the planet’s needs is more important than ever – (The UN General Assembly, Second Committee, stated in Oct 2009 that “food production must double” by 2050.)
*Grant Thornton FDF food service management market report 2019
Sara Walton is the Food Sector Lead (Standards) for BSI, an International Standards Development Organization and the National Standards Body for the UK. She has over 10 years’ experience of standardization, working with representative stakeholders and leading UK committees in food safety, quality and occupational health and safety, producing practical standards solutions in areas of interest to government, industry and civil society.
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