Google's 'moonshot lab' steps up work on agritech

Google's secretive “moonshot” laboratory, X, has stepped up plans to modernise food production, discussing plans for precision farming technology with the US government.

Precision farming attempts to dramatically improve crop yields by using sensors and software to maximise how plants are grown.

A team from the tech giant focusing on computational agriculture has been meeting with officials at the US Department of Agriculture to discuss its computational agriculture project.

The company’s discussions in Washington indicate advances in technologies to use less earth, water, fertiliser and farm hands. It was forced to cancel a meeting planned in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

X, an experimental division once spearheaded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, said last year that it was exploring farming technology.

The division’s boss Astro Teller last year surprised crowds by hinting that farming was the next industry the company was hoping to disrupt during a speech at the World Agri Tech conference in San Francisco last year.

Shortly after, Dr Elliott Grant, a Cambridge University alum who has held several positions at food technology companies, published a blog post asking for entrepreneurs, farmers and technology geniuses to get in touch to help build his team.

He wrote: “We suspect at least a few out-there, seemingly impossible ideas are going to be needed to feed the world.

“It will also take a new ecosystem of individuals and organisations working together in surprising new ways to make this happen. If you have a piece of this puzzle, and share our excitement about a world where everyone has access to nutritious food, made in a way that’s also good for the planet, please get in touch”.

John Deere was one of the first to introduce GPS to farming in 1990, by placing controllers on tractors so they could automatically steer based on the coordinates of a field, thereby reducing steering errors by drivers and saving seed, fertiliser and fuel.

The race is now on to develop effective and sustainable farming methods to feed the projected 10 billion people that will populate Earth by 2050.

Source: The Telegraph