Farmers and food makers are plugging into smarter technology that makes food healthier, safer and more delicious.
No matter what kind of food you love to eat, there are many technologies to help farmers and food producers keep you well-fed. Here are five technological advances that might be making a difference at your next Sunday night dinner.
1. Raw Food Pasteurization – Safe never tasted so fresh.
Raw foods such as eggs, shellfish, fruits, vegetables and meats contain pathogens that can make us sick. Traditional pasteurization and irradiation techniques kill the pathogens – but can kill taste and texture in the process.
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University is using an award from the National Science Foundation to test what promises to be a transformative microwave-assisted pasteurization process designed to make raw foods safe to eat – without changing their taste or texture.
2. Robotic Cow Milkers – Reduce food waste.
At most dairy farms, cows get milked two to three times a day. At dairy farms with robotic milking systems, cows can be milked as often as they choose, which reduces pressure on their udders and creates less stress. With robotic milking systems, the vacuum and pulse are automatically adjusted for the individual cow every time she’s milked.
3. Precision Farming – Make food, farmland safer.
Food safety is a top priority for U.S. farmers, and they’re using technology to ensure that a bounty of safe, tasty products will keep you coming back for more. That’s why precision is the operative word in fertilizer and pesticide application today.
Farms are increasingly using formulations designed specifically for the seeds being planted and the fields where they’re going to grow. Intelligent sprayers allow chemicals to be applied only on targeted areas.
4. Just-In-Time-Harvesting – Robots saving more than labor.
In the past, harvesting was a one-and-done event. Today, robotic harvesters use infrared sensors to bypass green tomatoes, for example, and select only the red, ripe fruit. With conventional harvesting techniques, farmers often lost 30-40-% of their crop by harvesting some vegetables too soon or others too late.
5. Genome-Edited Crops – Not your grandparents’ GMOs.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have already been proven to be safe. Now the technology to create them has been dramatically improved with the introduction of better editing tools.
Elo Life Systems, a subsidiary of Precision BioSciences, offers a next-generation genome editing platform called ARCUS that offers greater precision than ever before. The company is currently working with Cargill on developing food crops with nutritionally improved characteristics, starting with canola, sweeteners and plant-based proteins.
Source: U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action, used with permission