Posts tagged with "agriculture"

Agriculture illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

USDA Announces Investment

USDA Announces $218 Million Investment in Land and Water Conservation

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the USDA Forest Service will invest more than $218 million to fund Great American Outdoors Act projects to conserve critical forest and wetland habitat, support rural economic recovery, and increase public access to national forests and grasslands.

Leveraging the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provided by Congress, this investment will improve public access by funding strategic land acquisitions. Funds will also support work with state agencies to encourage private forest landowners to protect their land through conservation easements or land purchases.

“These investments reflect President Biden’s commitment to supporting locally-led conservation efforts from coast to coast and to honoring and building on the proud private land stewardship traditions of farmers, ranchers, and forest owners,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The investments will not only protect our natural heritage, but they will also create jobs, expand access to the outdoors, and help tackle climate change.”

The Forest Service administers two LWCF programs: The Forest Legacy Program and the Land Acquisition program. Together, these programs conserve critical and strategic lands across the nation’s forests on both private and public lands. The Forest Service will invest more than $94 million to fund 28 projects under the Forest Legacy Program and $123 million to fund Land Acquisition Program projects, including projects for recreation access and other needs.

Land Acquisition Program highlights include:

  • $6.4 million in FY 2021 to acquire 8,590 acres for the Lolo Trails Project in Montana. This project aims to mitigate the effects of climate change by providing the cold water that federally listed bull trout and other species need to sustain healthy populations in a warming climate.
  • $3.7 million to acquire 1,550 acres in the Yakima River Basin for the Washington Cascades Project. Supported by a wide coalition of public, private and non-profit partners, this project seeks to ensure a long-term water supply in the face of climate change.

Forest Legacy Program highlights include:

  • Protecting 12,500 acres of habitat, water and timber on the Ceylon Forest in Georgia. 2.5 million people depend on the Ceylon for drinking water that flows from and through the forest. As a working forest, the Ceylon supports a local wood-based economy that includes 121 mills, with a $1.69 million payroll impact. Once completed, the area will also become part of a much larger Wildlife Management Area and serve as an ideal hunting and fishing destination for sportsmen across the Southeast.
  • The East Grand-Weston in Maine builds on a century-old tradition of sustainable forestry and expands recreation opportunities over more than 4,300 acres. The property supports a thriving local recreation industry by protecting lands, waters and trails while also providing sustainable wood products to up to 15 mills. The property will remain in private hands while continuing to be managed for public benefits.
  • The second phase of the Kootenai Forestlands Conservation Project will permanently protect nearly 28,000 acres of land in northwest Montana. The project area belongs to the Stimson Lumber Company and contributes to the local economy while allowing free public access as a recreation destination for hunting, fishing, skiing, hiking, snowmobiling and more. The project will also protect the area from further residential development, reducing future firefighting costs by more than half.

Background

The Forest Service has been administering LWCF projects since 1964 along with the Department of the Interior. The fund supports Forest Service-led conservation projects including acquisition of critical non-federal lands within the boundaries of national forests and grasslands. Now, with full and permanent funding through the Dingell Act and the Great American Outdoors Act, the Forest Service is poised to strengthen its conservation program and provide greater recreation access to national forests and grasslands.

The agency worked with partners, considered multiple criteria and used established competitive processes to select projects for fiscal year 2021. During the review, the agency evaluated the environmental, social, and economic benefits of proposed projects and whether they contributed to other conservation initiatives. The Forest Service also considered local recreation access needs, the level of local support for strategic land acquisitions and how likely it would be for project areas to be converted to non-forest uses.

For more information on the Great American Outdoors Act and related projects, visit the website.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration under Secretary Vilsack, USDA is committed to transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit USDA.

hotel at night by Mina Tocalini for 360 Magazine

HECKFIELD PLACE: FIRST 100% BIODYNAMIC HOTEL IN UK

The Georgian Manor Estate Hotel and Home Farm Completes Three-Year Conversion to Holistic Approach to Agriculture. 

Heckfield Place, the award-winning Georgian manor estate turned luxury hotel in Hampshire, England (about an hour outside of London), has achieved 100% biodynamic certification; becoming the very first hotel and farm estate in the United Kingdom to receive this designation.

This pioneering accreditation culminates a three-year process of conversion to biodynamics, an alternative form of agriculture that adopts a “closed loop” and holistic approach to farming–eschewing the use of chemicals ­to regenerate soil health to preserve the land for future generations, and to produce healthy and nutrient-rich foods.  As biodynamic growers, Heckfield uses the cycle of the moon to determine when to carry out cultivations. For growing a root crop such as carrots, the team works when the moon is in an earth constellation (goat, bull or virgin). For leaf crops, such as lettuce and spinach, they cultivate when the moon is in a water constellation (crab, scorpion or fish). For flowers, the focus is when the moon is in an air constellation (twins, scales or water carrier) and to encourage fruiting, the moon will be in a fire constellation (ram, lion or archer).

Heckfield’s Farm now provides in myriad of ways for the hotel: from flowers, beautifully arranged by its floral consultant Kitten Grayson Flowers along with its in-house florist, to rotating arable crops and organic produce that inspire the seasonal menus at the hotel’s restaurants Hearth and Marle, led by Culinary Director Skye Gyngell, who champions a root-to-plate ethos.

In 2020, the Heckfield Home Farm opened its own micro-dairy to produce milk, cream and butter for the hotel and local community from the estate’s Guernsey herd, along with 90 sheep and 20 pigs. An average of 400 chickens and 20 beehives provides eggs and honey.

The farm serves as a shining example of the self-sustaining relationship between the land and the house and captures the essence of the hotel’s unique approach to luxury hospitality in its role as custodians for the 438-acre estate to ensure a sustainable future for the land on which it resides.

“Being certified as biodynamic allows us a clearer framework and positive intent; if we choose chemical-based agriculture as the program for our soils, we will destroy the very life we all depend on,” says David Rowley, Head Market Gardener, Heckfield Estates. “Alternatively, we can choose to feed our soils, encourage all the microbiology and the beings and cycles, seen and unseen, picture the farm 100 years in the future–what would we like our grandchildren to see?”

For more information about sustainability at Heckfield Place and its Home Farm, please visit their website.

ABOUT HECKFIELD PLACE:

A Georgian family home dating to the 1700s, Heckfield Place has been lovingly restored to its classic origins and rewoven into its surrounding 400 acres of farmland, ancient heather and woodlands. The estate’s farm, two walled gardens and orchards nourish renowned chef Skye Gyngell’s epicurean cuisine, bringing the outside gloriously into the property’s three restaurants–Marle, with its outdoor balcony overlooking the property, the Sun House, a unique space for up to 30 guests in the Upper Walled Garden, and the open-flamed Hearth. Aiming to be as sustainable as possible, the estate has a biomass energy center to power hotel water and central heating; an aerobic digester to process all recyclable waste and provide compost for the garden and pellets for the biomass energy center; harvest rainwater and capture spring water. As part of the Assembly, the hotel’s event rooms can host up to 120 guests and the new state-of-the-art, Dolby Atmos surround sound cinema can accommodate 67 viewers. There is also an extensive wine cellar and tasting room, as well as the full service Little Bothy Spa.

Book illustration

Purdue Commercialization System ranks 3rd in US

Purdue University technologies have generated 300-plus startups, helping millions of people in 100-plus countries and continuing Purdue’s commercialization ecosystem on a fast-paced upward trend to move inventions to the global market, where they can improve lives and advance the economy.

In fiscal-year 2020, two pillars of Purdue’s commercialization ecosystem, Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization and Purdue Foundry, generated record growth with the highest numbers ever reported in a single year for patent applications, issued patents, technology disclosures, licensing deals and startup creation.

During FY20, Purdue generated a record 55 startups in West Lafayette, Indiana. Of those, 22 originated from Purdue-licensed intellectual property and 33 from company-based entrepreneurs including Purdue students and alumni.

“The numbers are important, but even more important are the lives that are changed by the research of Purdue’s outstanding faculty and students as the results of this research are moved through the commercialization process and made available to people around the world,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “There is much happening in the world today, and one of the most important contributions we can make to our society is to educate tomorrow’s leaders and involve them with the world-changing research of our faculty.”

Purdue’s FY20 ended June 30 and results include:

· Technology disclosures – 408, compared with 360 last year.

· Signed licenses and options – 148, compared with 136 last year.

· Technologies licensed – 225, compared with 231 last year.

· Startups from Purdue intellectual property – 22, compared with 17 last year.

· Issued patents – 252, with 180 U.S. and 72 international. Last year, the figures were 141 U.S. and 68 international patents issued.

· Total patent applications filed ­– 721, compared with 671 last year.

Click on technology commercialization data and/or Purdue-affiliated startups for a full list of each set of metrics.

Purdue is ranked third in the U.S. for startup creation in a report, compiled and reported by IPWatchdog Institute. The data used in the study was collected by AUTM over the period of 2008-18. Purdue also is ranked 13th in the world among universities granted U.S. utility patents for 2019 by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

Cumulative commercialization results include $400 million-plus in startup investments and funding, 400-plus jobs created and nine Purdue startups that have been acquired by international companies for $2.3 billion-plus. The research concentrations reported in the disclosures include numerous sectors in sustainability, health, space and artificial intelligence.

“I could not be more proud of Purdue’s researchers who have dedicated their lives to creating technologies to help others and our team of technology transfer professionals, who work diligently to move Purdue’s inventions from the laboratory to the public,” said Brooke Beier, vice president of the Office of Technology Commercialization. “Everyone involved in this process understands and appreciates the important work that is being done to help our global society.”

Wade Lange, vice president and chief entrepreneurial officer of the Purdue Research Foundation, said, “The Purdue commercialization ecosystem has developed into one of the most effective technology-based startup and licensing machines in the world, and these annual results reflect its success. From researchers to students to administrators to alumni and to our Greater Lafayette community partners, we are working together often and collaboratively to create and advance startups. We anticipate the next year will garner even more life-changing results.”

Resources available through the Purdue entrepreneurial ecosystem include the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Research Foundation, Office of Technology Commercialization, the Burton D Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, the John Martinson Entrepreneurship Center and the Anvil.

Assistance for startups include mentorship, networking, marketing and funding programs. JUA Technologies International, a Purdue-affiliated startup that is developing solar-powered crop-drying devices, has received assistance from the Purdue Office of Technology Transfer Commercialization and Purdue Foundry. The startup was co-founded by husband-wife team of Klein Ileleji, a professor in agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue, and Reiko Habuto Ileleji, a Purdue alumna who earned her Ph.D. from Purdue’s College of Education.

“I am part of the research team that developed our crop-drying innovation at Purdue, and my wife and I founded JUA in 2016 after licensing the technology through the Office of Technology Commercialization. We continue to work closely with the Purdue Foundry,” Ileleji said. “I don’t believe we would have pursued a startup without Purdue’s strong entrepreneurial assistance programs.”

JUA has received funding, including a $100,000 Small Business Innovation Research Phase I grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a $50,000 match investment from Elevate Ventures through Indiana’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund. The company also received $50,000 through the Purdue Ag-celerator Fund, a research advancement initiative created in 2015 and managed through Purdue Ventures, Purdue Foundry and Purdue College of Agriculture. Purdue Moves supports Ag-celerator fund.

book, reading, Vaughn Lowery, 360 Magazine

Purdue University × Beck’s Hybrids

Today, Purdue University announced that Beck’s, a family-owned and -operated seed company, intends to open a satellite location in Purdue’s Discovery Park District.

Officials from Beck’s worked with Carr Workplaces – a pioneer and leader in the co-working industry – to establish a location in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration. Convergence is located in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus.

“This location will provide opportunities to increase our collaborations with the university, the Purdue Foundry and innovators in agricultural research,” said Scott Beck, president of Beck’s. “A location in Purdue’s Discovery Park District gives Beck’s access and exposure to high-quality talent.”

With the new space, Beck’s intends to partner with Purdue faculty and researchers from across campus, representing different colleges and multiple disciplines.

“Having an ag company, like Beck’s, commit to a presence down the street from our college opens the door to unique opportunities for our students and faculty,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. “In addition to the potential research collaborations, I am looking forward to seeing how our students can network with individuals from Beck’s to gain valuable industry insight.”

The $1 billion-plus Discovery Park District is a Purdue Research Foundation entity adjacent to the Purdue University campus and is a transformational center of innovation.

The district’s Convergence Center houses Carr Workplaces, the Purdue Foundry and the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. It will serve as the new home of innovation and collaboration for entrepreneurs and industry pioneers alike.

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UN Climate Report

To Tackle Climate Change We Need to Rethink Our Food System By Kathleen Rogers and Dr. Shenggen Fan

The way we produce, consume and discard food is no longer sustainable. That much is clear from the newly released UN climate change report  which warns that we must rethink how we produce our food and quickly to avoid the most devastating impacts of global food production, including massive deforestation, staggering biodiversity loss and accelerating  climate change. While it’s not often recognized, the food industry is an enormous driver of climate change, and our current global food system is pushing our natural world to the breaking point. At the press conference releasing the Special Report on Climate Change and Land, report co-chair Eduardo Calvo Buendía stated that “the food system as a whole which includes food production and processing, transport, retail consumption, loss and waste is currently responsible for up to a third of our global greenhouse gas emissions.”

In other words, while most of us have been focusing on the energy and transportation sectors in the climate change fight, we cannot ignore the role that our food production has on cutting emissions and curbing climate change. By addressing food waste and emissions from animal agriculture, we can start to tackle this problem. How do we do that?

Livestock production is a leading culprit driving deforestation, degrading our water quality and increasing air pollution. In fact, animal agriculture has such an enormous impact on the environment that if every American reduced their meat consumption by just 10 percent about 6 ounces per week we would save approximately 7.8 trillion gallons of water. That’s more than all the water in Lake Champlain.

We’d also save 49 billion pounds of carbon dioxide every year the equivalent of planting 1 billion carbon-absorbing trees. What’s more, to the injury from unsustainable food production, we add the insult of extraordinary levels of food waste: nearly one third of all food produced globally ends up in our garbage cans and then landfills. We are throwing away $1 trillion worth of food, or about half of Africa’s GDP, every single year. At our current rates, if food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third-largest carbon emitter after the U.S. and China. 

To ensure global food security and sustainable food practices in an ever-growing world, we need to reexamine our food systems and take regional resources, such as land and water availability, as well as local economies and culture into account. To start, the United States and other developed countries must encourage food companies to produce more sustainable food, including more plant-based options, and educate consumers and retailers about healthy and sustainable diets. Leaders must create policies that ensure all communities and children have access to affordable fruits and vegetables. And we all can do our part to reduce food waste, whether it’s in our company cafeterias or our own refrigerators.

Technology also plays a part. Developed countries should support and incentivize emerging innovative technologies in plant-based foods, as well as carbon-neutral or low-carbon meat production.

Developing countries, on the other hand, face high levels of undernutrition, as well as limited access to healthy foods. Many nutrient-dense foods (such as fruits, vegetables and quality meats) are highly perishable, often making prices significantly higher than ultra-processed, nutrient-poor and calorie-dense foods. The high cost of nutrient-dense foods creates a significant barrier to healthy diets, as seen in urban Malawi and many other countries.

By promoting enhanced production of healthy and nutritious foods while also improving markets in low-income countries, we can lower prices and increase accessibility of healthy and sustainable diets. Politicians can also tackle systemic inequalities by redirecting agricultural subsidies to promote healthy foods, as well as investing in infrastructure like rural roads, electricity, storage and cooling chain.

Change must happen at every level if we want to build a better food system. International participation and resource-sharing can spread regional solutions across countries. And working for change at the ground level among individuals, communities, local and federal governments and private entities can help fight hunger and food inequality firsthand.

Yes, our food system is broken, but not irrevocably so. The challenges are enormous, but by understanding the problem and potential solutions, we can effect critical changes in the ways we produce, consume and dispose of food.

Relationship Advice from NASA Engineer

Conservatives stay single longer

A new study from NASA engineer Rashied Amini, Ph.D. analyzes factors that contribute to how long people stay single. Some surprising results include conservative political views, higher education and not so surprising factors like income as a deal-breaker. The results of the study were used to create Nanaya’s love prediction algorithm, which is available for free and premium memberships online, and for iOS and Android.“Somehow this is the first time someone’s seriously looked at this question. The answers we found aren’t just about how long people stay single but also why,” said founder and owner of Nanaya,Rashied Amini, Ph.D.,on why he decided to conduct this study and start Nanaya.

Levelof education and rebound time have an almost perfectly correlated relationship. With someone staying single 0.8 months longer for each additional year of secondary & post-secondary education obtained. In addition, people who work in Academia & Higher Education have longer rebound times compared to other industries, with those working in agriculture having the shortest rebound time.

People who take public transit frequently will on average find relationships four months faster than people who never or rarely take public transit.

The size of your company could impact your love life. The study showed that people in workplaces of ~30-70 people have the best odds of entering a relationship sooner compared to smaller companies or large corporations.

Those with unempathetic political views tend to spend significantly longer looking for a relationship. Some of the opinions that have the most impact include being against marriage equality and universal healthcare, supporting increased border security, and being opposed to expanding welfare.

Feminists have an easier time finding relationships by approximately 1-2 months. This includes men who support feminism.

Compared to straight men and women, gay and bisexual people find relationships faster. Gay men spend the least amount of time single, followed by bisexual men and women.

Since non-Americans find love approximately 8 months sooner than Americans, traveling internationally can increase your chances of making a lasting connection.

Level of education and rebound time have an almost perfectly correlated relationship. With someone staying single 0.8 months longer for each additional year of secondary & post-secondary education obtained. In addition, people who work in Academia & Higher Education have a longer rebound time compared to other industries, with those working in Agriculture having the shortest rebound time.

According to Nanaya’s data, psychology and belief systems have a stronger correlation to time spent single. When it comes to children, those who want children spend the shortest time single, followed by those who don’t know if they want children. Single parents or those who don’t want children spend the longest time single.

About Nanaya

Nanaya has built one of the largest databases of romantic outcomes to ever exist. Unlike dating sites, Nanaya has data on how people actual live their lives and have romances in the real world – not just in the “Tinderverse.” Nanaya also has plenty of data on people in relationships. Unlike Facebook, Nanaya has data on personal values, experiences, and accurate personality data. What all this means is that Nanaya research is going to be a lot more complete and accurate than what anyone else can hope to do. Over the course of their research, they’ve identified personality traits that have significant impact on romantic outcomes. As a result, they’ve developed the brand new Nanaya Romantic Personality Quiz. In about 30 questions, Nanaya can describe romantic personality and outcomes better than anything that exists, whether it’s Myers Briggs or any other personality test.

For a free personalized test, go to http://nanaya.co/.

New Robotics

New Robotics: Shifting Business Models

IDTechEx Research analyzes the changing trends in the robotics industry in their report New Robotics and Drones 2018-2038: Technologies, Forecasts, Players, as new and emerging firms challenge the norm.

Machine makers in many established markets sell their machines directly or through dealer networks. At times, they create additional revenue streams by offering technical after-sales support. They often hope that the installed base of their machines together with limited incompatibility with competitors’ products provides some lock-in mechanism. They also seek to build-in some technology obsolescence into their product cycles. Some also provide finance, directly or jointly with a finance entity, to help potential customers overcome the barrier of the upfront cost.

Many traditional robot suppliers fit the description above. Integrators often install a robotic or automated solution and provide after-sale technical support. They make it difficult to integrate competitors’ robots with their solutions and offer regular hardware and software updates.

New and emerging robotic firms, however, do not easily fit this bill. They are, in fact, challenging the established norms. This is sometimes through will and sometimes through necessity. The trend towards alternative models is evident across all sectors that new robotics seeks to impact. This includes retail, agriculture, logistics, delivery, security, cleaning, transport, and so on.

In the next few paragraphs, we outline some trends and drives in each sector. To get the complete picture please see the IDTechEx Research New Robotics and Drones 2018-2038: Technologies, Forecasts, Players. This report is unique in its depth and breadth. It covers both existing as well as emerging applications. Indeed, it provides 21-year forecasts in value and unit numbers for 46 categories, painting a comprehensive and quantitative picture of this major transformation.

Agriculture

Autonomous robots can provide automated precision weeding. Robotic intelligent implementation can provide precision spraying or weeding, too. The upfront machine or fleet costs are often high today. The technology risk for end users is also high. Users are often afraid that expert operators and repair persons will be needed. They worry that the technology is not tried and tested, especially in an agricultural environment. They fear that the technology is likely to rapidly evolve, exposing them to serious obsolescence risks. Crucially, they require seasonal services and are accustomed to paying wages and not making significant capital investments into machines with low utilization rates.

To address these challenges, many companies are positioning as a RaaS- robotic as a service. They essentially become weeding service providers. They operate or monitor their own machines. They charge the customer per acre, a metric with which they are likely familiar. They absorb the technology risk. Crucially, they give their robots extensive field practice and will have the chance to gather data and feedback. This is important because the design of these products and services is still in a state of flux with many further iterations anticipated.

This positioning changes the nature of their business. Companies will require additional working capital and staff to absorb the service costs and to offer a sufficiently scaled service network. They cannot simply build to order to balance their cash flows. This is where partnerships will become important. This is also where early capital investments in case of start-ups become a necessity, as most will operate heavily in the red in the early years of their operations.

With time and technology maturity the model may revert back to a traditional arrangement, or will it? This is an ongoing debate because traditional heavy agricultural machine makers will also need to adapt their models. This is inevitable because as vehicles become more autonomous, in navigation and task, the machine becomes the services, blurring the boundary between equipment sales and service provision.  The whole value chains will need to adjust and even the dealers will need to find their sweet spots evolving their technical support into full-blown remote robot operations. To learn more please read New Robotics and Drones 2018-2038: Technologies, Forecasts, Players.

Last mile delivery

Many small robots are appearing worldwide to solve the productivity problem present at the last stage of the delivery process: the last mile. These small slow robots autonomously deliver small payloads to their final destinations. At the level of individual machines, there are highly unproductive. However, at the level of a large fleet, without a driver overhead per unit, they can become productive and commercially viable.

Here two business models have emerged. Some follow the traditional model of trying to sell their robots. Others are positioning as delivery firms staffed mainly by autonomous robots. This latter model is adopted for many good reasons. It is envisioned that the hardware will in the future become modular, standardized, and highly commoditized.  Essentially the same fate as consumer drones awaits the hardware platform. Competing in such a business would not be easy for start-ups, especially those based in California and similar start-up hubs.

Crucially, the robot companies require practice data. This is because they will need to improve their delivery and navigation algorithms so that one day they can operate large fleets in complex environments with high-speed units. The data loop would be cut if they just sold a machine and walked out. The data acquisition is a fundamental part of product improvement without which the company would likely stall. It will also open up the door to offering high value-added analytics services.

The technology is still immature. As such, it will require close monitoring and likely regular manual interventions to fix issues. As such, most players will, as a minimum, be forced to add a strong 24/7 service element to their business.

To learn more, please see the IDTechEx Research report Mobile Robots and Drones in Material Handling and Logistics 2018-2038. This report is focused on all aspects of mobile robotics in material handling and logistics. In particular, we consider the following: automated guided vehicles and carts (AGVs and AGCs); autonomous mobile vehicles and carts/units; mobile picking robots; last mile delivery ground robots (droids) and drones; and autonomous trucks and light delivery vans (level 4 and level 5 automation).

Logistics

Robotic firms are emerging to enable autonomous robotic picking. These robots combine autonomous mobility with autonomous picking skills. Here, too, companies are frequently positioning themselves as a service provider, charging a monthly subscription fee or a $ per pick rate.

In this case, too, robotic companies require the data. Their picking algorithms are based on deep learning and as such without training data their product roadmap will likely stall. This would be very dangerous to their business prospects because today’s generation of products only manages to slowly pick regularly-shaped known objects in simple environments. The future, however, is fast picking of novel randomly-shaped items in complex environments. To traverse this competency gap, data will be indispensable. The users too will require ongoing support. They too will prefer not to absorb the technology risk, especially since the technology – both hardware and software – are rapidly evolving. As such, a service model can prove win-win.

To learn more please visit www.IDTechEx.com/mobile.

Security

Autonomous mobile robots are developed to perform various security-related tasks. These robots are being designed for indoor, outdoor and even rugged terrain operation. They are essentially sensors-on-a-wheel. Some versions can have more than 50-onboard sensors, generating nearly 100 terabytes of data per year per machine. These robots can be deployed wherever some type of security and monitoring is required.

Here, too, firms are not always adopting an outright equipment sales model. It is common to seek a subscription model for giving customers access to the machine, the interface, the data plan, the 24/7 support, etc. Here, too, such arrangements can be win-win. The suppliers will retain that crucial data loop in their business models, enabling them to improve their products, for example, by offering specialized algorithms able to detect, recognize, and analyze specific situations, e.g., from car number plate recognition to detection of dangerous gas leakages in an industrial site. Customers, too, will take this arrangement because it is closer to an end solution and makes it easier for them to test the technology and the new ways of working that it might enable.

To learn more please see New Robotics and Drones 2018-2038: Technologies, Forecasts, Players. This report provides detailed technology analysis, assessing the trends in performance and price of key enabling hardware and software technologies whilst considering likely technology development roadmaps. We will also profile the key companies and innovative entities working on new robotics and drones.

Retail

Autonomous robots are also finding their way into retail stores, seeking to automate tedious tasks. In particular, they are being offered essentially as automated data acquisition tools, capturing data about items on the shelves with higher speed and accuracy than humans.

Here firms are positioning as full solution providers. This has many advantages. This future-proofs their business against hardware commoditization. They can accumulate hard-to-obtain and hard-to-copy knowhow and data which can then underpin their value-added data analytics services. Their customers too will be interested in a final solution and not another alien technology looking for a problem to solve. At the end of the day, they are interested only in an impact on the bottom line, be it higher stock availability, better stock positioning on shelves, or leaner inventories. As such, data-centric service-orientated models can be win-win propositions.

This shift towards non-traditional business models permeates every sector. It is happening even with cars where the rise of mobility is fueling serious debates about the future of mobility and the role of autonomous taxi fleets and shared facilities. In general, even if the business models are not radically redrawn, the profit pool within the value chain will be re-balanced. This will change the winners and losers and will demand that all participants begin looking ahead and planning now.

To learn more, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/robotics or contact research@IDTechEx.com.

IDTechEx guides your strategic business decisions through its Research, Consultancy and Events services, helping you profit from emerging technologies. Find out more at www.IDTechEx.com.

America’s First Food Spy × David Fairchild

In the January/February issue of Smithsonian magazine, Daniel Stone, a writer for National Geographic and author of the new book The Food Explorer, sits down with Smithsonian to tell the forgotten story of the man who gave us kale, America’s first adventurer-botanist and “food spy”, David Fairchild, who traveled the world over a century ago in search of exotic crops.

Here are some highlights:

So who was David Fairchild?

“David Fairchild was an adventurer-botanist, which is a title that has rarely existed in history. He was a man who grew up in Kansas, at a time when the United States was very blank. It was in need of a lot of growth. Economic growth, military growth and culinary growth. And he detected an appetite for all of those types of change, which led him to conduct world-wide adventures at a time when not that many people traveled. He went to places that not that many people went, in search of foods and crops that would enrich farmers and very much delight American eaters.”

What did Fairchild do as a “food spy”?

“His role, sanctioned by the president and the secretary of agriculture, was to find exotic crops and bring them back. Sometimes it was diplomatic. And sometimes he would steal things. He went to Bavaria to acquire better hops. German growers had the world’s best hops and didn’t want anyone to get them, so they hired young men to guard the fields at night. Fairchild befriended these growers. It was covert work, and he didn’t outright steal the hops, but he did eventually acquire them and brought them back to the U.S. That really helped balloon America’s hops-growing industry.”

What effect did his missions have?

If Fairchild hadn’t traveled to expand the American diet, our supermarkets would look a lot different. You certainly wouldn’t have kale, which he picked up in Austria-Hungary, to the extent that you do today. Or food like quinoa from Peru, which was introduced back then, but took off a century later. Anyone who’s eaten an avocado from Central America or citrus from Asia can trace those foods back to his efforts. Those fruits hadn’t permeated American agriculture until Fairchild and the USDA created a system to distribute seeds, cuttings and growing tips. Fairchild went to great lengths, at times risking his life, to find truly novel crops, like dates from Iraq and Egyptian cotton.”

What was Fairchild’s favorite food discovery?

“The mangosteen (unrelated to the mango). He thought that Americans would love it and tried repeatedly to introduce it, but it only grows in tropical climates, and doesn’t grow much fruit, so it never really caught on.”

Read the entire story here.

Story/Photo Credits: Smithsonian