Thinking about the future of smart mixed cropping systems is not only an interesting thought experiment, but also a good way to prepare for the future and associated challenges. Within AGROS, we have developed three future scenarios and corresponding transition paths together with stakeholders. These scenarios are explorations of the future and we have used them to formulate innovation challenges and robust solution directions.
In the 2040 of data for your convenience, big tech takes the lead. Mixed cropping takes form through diversification of rotations and small-scale pixel farming. A highly robotised and automated technology landscape ensures that smart mixed cropping systems can be implemented in a labour-extensive way. The value chain is dominated by consumer demands and focused on the global market.
In the 2040 of ecology at the wheel, agro-technology is leading and technology takes on a supporting role. Mixed cropping systems have taken shape through strip cropping in narrow strips combined with agroforestry. Digitalisation enables a more efficient short chain. Regionalisation is taking shape within region Europe. Consumers are involved and active in the agricultural sector.
In the 2040 of crisis forces action, mixed crops are used as a counterpart to chemistry. Resilient systems are developed in response to a climate crisis situation. There is a social dilemma of ecology versus economics and polarisation around nature versus agriculture. Freshwater is the new gold. Business has great influence on political decision-making and the government steers consumers towards sustainable choices, for instance through VAT adjustments.
For each scenario, ‘breakthrough actions’ en route from today to 2040 have been formulated, as well as corresponding actions for farmers and their representatives, technology and supply industry and policy. In addition, the scenarios have been made more concrete for the energy infrastructure of the future. The full report will be published online soon.