From massive abandonment of local agricultural production to the smartest farming possible, which can provide Austria with high-quality food in the long run – these are two of four possible scenarios for agriculture, Survey by direction researcher Matthias Horeks to secure cold.
Food comes first, then morals, “This is well-known wisdom from Berthold Brecht. However, the prerequisite for moral action, ie agricultural production of food, is under increasing pressure in Austria. According to hail insurance, we are losing, and indeed destroying, 4,200 hectares of land. This corresponds to the amount of 25.2 million kilograms of bread grain per year (4,200 hectares at a rate of 6000 kg/ha) or the annual need for bread and pastries by nearly 300,000 Austrians, which in turn corresponds to the population of Austria Burgenland.
In addition, there is climate change with increased damage from droughts and extreme weather events. At the same time, the Ukraine war greatly shows how disastrous the dependencies on other countries can be and how important self-sufficiency is against this background. According to the latest available figures from Statistics Austria for 2020, this was as high for some products, such as 177% for drinking milk (with yoghurt) and 145% for beef and veal. However, for some it was less than the 100% mark. So the demand cannot be completely covered by domestic production. Examples include cereals (88%), vegetables (55%), fruits (45%), vegetable oils (30%), and fish (7%).
For many years now, farms in Austria have been lower (1970:368000; 2020:155900) and larger at the same time. At the same time, the machines used became larger and more powerful. At present, development is mainly moving in the direction of “precision and smart agriculture”. For several years, there has also been a return to the environment and its protection (organic food / organic farming) or even anthropological ideas.
New Big Trends
But what trends and developments will most affect agriculture in the future, and what will it look like in the middle of the century? The study “The Future of Agriculture in Austria 2050+” by Matthias Horeks to mark the 75th anniversary of hail insurance provides answers. Of course, this is not easy. “You have to know that every direction generates an opposite direction,” Horks says. From this contradiction arises a new synthesis of the future. For the trend researcher, there are six major trends as “future drivers” in the country: the new environment, health, urbanization, connectivity, globalization, and security. From this, Horkes deduced four scenarios for 2050.
“You have to know that every trend generates an opposite trend.”
Post-Agriculture 2050: After constant land use and ongoing global warming, our worst fears come true. Domestic agricultural production was no longer possible, Austria largely abandoned agriculture.
# Script 2
City farming: City limits are shifting away into rural areas. More and more farmland will then be closed, and urban farming can only partially bridge the resulting supply gap. Austria is far from self-sufficient and dependent on imports.
# Script 3
Organic Agriculture: Austria remains the model country for organic farming and is adapting to the challenges of climate change in an exemplary way. But food is expensive due to the highest standards of production, and the Alpine Republic is not living up to its own potential.
# Script 4
sStrong and smart cultivation: In the future, satellites and drones will largely replace the eyes and ears of farmers in the fields, and their hands will be replaced by robots. In harmony with nature and thanks to big data, the requirements and productivity in agriculture can be predicted more accurately, with increasing yield variability due to more severe weather conditions. Food supplies are secured by maintaining existing agricultural areas, and climate protection is the order of the day.
what should be done?
For Matinas Horeks, one thing is clear: “The truth is: only a highly digitized agricultural sector with sufficient agricultural land can strike a balance between food security, environmental health and high-quality products. Politicians, society and the (agricultural) economy must now react to these recommendations The four agricultural to work so that this smart and sustainable agriculture is no longer a utopia in 2050.” The study recommends the following for this:
1. Enhancing understanding of agriculture and rural life Farmers must feel valued for their work again so that future generations will remain willing to work in agriculture.
2. Ensure fair income and work-life balance Politicians must defuse the agricultural price war, and consumers must pay more reasonable prices. The health protection of farmers must also be given a higher priority.
3. Prioritize soil protection Soil consumption should be stopped as soon as possible. Urban and community development should not be pursued at the expense of fertile land. Innovatively plan and build, use job vacancies, reform political responsibilities and taxes – effective soil protection uses several levers at the same time.
4. Intensifying sustainability: More digitization, modern animal welfare concepts, increased climate protection, and pioneering plant breeding create security under uncertain climatic conditions.
Therefore, there is much that needs to be done to ensure a sustainable supply of local food: “Agriculture is undoubtedly a key sector for the future of humanity. Our food comes from it, it shapes the beauty of our country. Nobody can see the future, but we can shape it. For the good of Austrian agriculture and therefore For the benefit of future generations!” Kurt Weinberger, CEO of Hail Insurance. The study is also available online.
Megatrends as future drivers
New Ecology: Individual action is increasingly moving towards the criterion of sustainability. For more and more people, organic products are not a luxury, but a standard.
health: Personal well-being is given the highest priority and is considered holistically. A healthy body needs a healthy soul and lives in a healthy environment.
bring: The country is becoming more urban, rural lifestyles are gaining popularity in urban settings – the boundaries between city and country are disappearing. Land segregation in the countryside threatens farms, while vertical farming creates a new niche in the city.
Delivery: Digital technologies connect people, machines, and the environment in an interactive network. Big data and automation are powering future agriculture that is climate, soil and resource friendly.
Globalisation: Agricultural management practices around the world have an impact on the agricultural framework conditions in Austria. In turn, Republic can set an example when it comes to yield-oriented and eco-friendly agriculture.
protection: How and how future crises will hit the agricultural sector is still not expected. But agriculture can set the framework in a self-defining way.
Laboratory meat on a larger scale
Reducing meat consumption is often seen as a lever for climate and environmental protection, while global meat consumption has doubled in the past 20 years. As a possible answer to this, in addition to plant-based meat alternatives, work has been going on for several years to develop in vitro meat, that is, in vitro meat. A recent survey by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences’ Institute of Marketing showed that lab meats are still largely unknown to consumers. However, the majority of respondents (61%) – after explaining the manufacturing process – could in principle imagine trying meat in a laboratory. Even on a larger scale, industrial production of industrially grown meat is already possible today. According to its own data, the Israel-based company Future Meat Technologies in Rehovot opened the world’s first industrial plant for this purpose in 2021.
Now 500 kilograms per day are produced there, which is the equivalent of 5,000 hamburgers. “Our facility makes meat production based on scalable cells a reality. Without genetic engineering and without the use of animal serum. Our goal is to make cultured meat accessible to everyone while ensuring that we produce delicious, healthy and sustainable food, helping to secure the future for future generations,” says Yacoub. Nahmias, founder and chief scientific officer of Future Meat Technologies. Compared to conventional meat production, it is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, less land by 99% and fresh water consumption by 96% in Rehovot. Future Meat Technologies aims to hit shelves in the US in 2022. In the European Union, the Commission has been responsible for approving new foods since January 1, 2018 and can require the FSA to perform a scientific risk assessment in order to determine the safety of the foods in question. .
– image sources –
- Matthias Horeks: Hail Insurance
- Post-Agriculture 2050: Sima – stock.adobe.com
- City farming: ball141030 – stock.adobe.com
- Organic farming: tag us with a button – stock.adobe.com
- Hard Smart Farming: america_stock – stock.adobe.com
- The Lab: Future Meat Technology
- Field: Dario Le Preste – stock.adobe.com
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