From indoor farming to alternative proteins

Consultants at Morgan Stanley recently ranked 10 key agriculture tech sectors. Most promising were alternative proteins, seeds that can reduce crop loss and optimize the use of resources such as nitrogen, land and water, and precision agriculture. These sectors provide high growth, compelling risk-reward, significant customer benefits, and are supported by favorable policy initiatives, the consultancy said.

Agri-food testing, animal health, and organic and naturally healthy food came next on its list, judged to be low-risk, with reasonable growth opportunities. It was less convinced by innovations in crop protection and fertilizers due to concerns over sustainability and government policy, while it flagged vertical farming and aquaculture to be potential areas to watch.

For Stuart Thomson, senior manager of food and agriculture at PwC, the most promising technologies fall into two areas. First: the collection, analysis, and use of data that can monitor farm performance and its impact on climate change, soil quality, or water use, and second: engineering solutions that allow farmers to use precision farming techniques such as spraying individual pests, or controlled environment farming in greenhouses using renewable energy.

The latter is seeing a boom in the U.S., according to Travis Parman, chief communications officer at startup AppHarvest. “There is a lot of opportunity with controlled-environment agriculture because the U.S. is so under-built,” he says. “It is a way to really de-risk our fresh fruit and vegetable production.”


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