There is no area of human activity more basic to society than a sustainable agricultural, food and natural resource system. The ‘major’ question is, how will food be produced sustainably for the expected global population growth to 9.5–10 billion people by 2050? The agriculture and food system is a highly complex adaptive system, operating across the spectrum of economics, biophysics and sociopolitics. There is a need to move beyond contentious debates between many constituencies, rooted in ideological solutions, to acceptance of a broad array of different approaches. This chapter focuses on the evolution from long and traditionally soil-based systems to biologically-based indoor systems, largely independent of soil with unique characteristics. Science and technology advancements have been critical to achievements of the existing land/soil-based systems and are equally critical in development of the emerging biologically-based indoor systems of controlled environment agriculture (greenhouses and vertical farms) and plant-based food alternatives, cell-cultured foods and 3D printed foods. Thus, there is no system more in need of and more likely to benefit from a comprehensive application of convergence thinking across disciplines and stakeholders.
Part of the book: Technology in Agriculture