How can we leverage technology and data to create more inventive and sustainable food systems? MIT Media Lab’s Open Agriculture Initiative, under the visionary leadership of research scientist, Caleb Harper is doing just this – harnessing the power of digital technology and data to reinvent how we could grow food in the future.
Caleb Harper believes that it is possible to change our existing global food system by connecting growers with technology to create what could be described as a food computer. This is basically a controlled-environment agriculture technology platform where one creates a climate, then monitors the climate with sensors which produce data about CO2 levels, temperature, humidity, nutrient levels, etc.
For example, if you are growing a basil plant using aeronomics (growing plants in the air, without standing water or soil), you monitor the plant and see what the ideal conditions turn out to be for that plant, which allows you to create a plant growing ‘recipe’ that is open source. People who have their own controlled growing environment, or ‘food computer’, could then download this ‘recipe’ to be able to grow their own basil plants according to that recipe, and thereby grow similar plants.
This could be called strategic farming and certainly very similar to what is being done in vertical farms, as previously covered on Unfold.
The work being done at the MIT Open Agriculture Initiative presents an innovative solution for building a more sustainable food system – and according to Caleb Harper, this is the future of food.