What does the future hold for regenerative agriculture?

Agriculture is one of the earliest technological innovations in human history.

Whilst it is hard to argue against the food surpluses that underpinned civilisation as we know it, we cannot deny this has come with environmental costs. Globally, agriculture is responsible for around 27% of greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, UN data suggests that 20-40% of global soils are degrading or already degraded as a result of agricultural mismanagement.

These problems are existential. If farming continues with the business-as-usual approach, it will quickly find itself unable to provide enough food for a growing population.

Enter regenerative agriculture - a system where farms improve, or at least do not further degrade, the environment in which they are situated. Regenerative agriculture demands doing more with less - increasing yields and nutrition whilst simultaneously reducing environmental impact and reversing soil degradation.

This is not simply nostalgia for historic farming practices. Instead, regenerative agriculture is a high-tech vision for the future, where data-gathering guides precision application of clean inputs, and quantifies the harms and benefits in real time.

Yet, at the intersection of high-tech biology, data science, and agriculture, innovators face challenges. The technical, legal, and regulatory realities of the two fields could not be any more different.

Applying existing business models to regenerative agriculture is likely to struggle, and bespoke approaches will be necessary. The same holds true for IP strategy, where approaches for protecting innovation will need to adapt. Investors too will need the confidence that enough exclusivity has been established around valuable assets.

At the same time, the transition to smart, regenerative farming is ripe with opportunity. With legally binding emissions targets in the EU and the UK, improving the carbon footprint of farming is an attractive target for government incentives. By the same token, decoupling food production from fossil-fuel-derived inputs not only mitigates market volatility but also aligns with global sustainability goals and provides clear benefits to farmers who adopt new technology.

As part of our exclusive blog series, we delve into how innovators in regenerative agriculture can strategically leverage their IP to make a difference, as well as secure a return on investment. We will explore the technical and legal hurdles that make regenerative agriculture such a challenging sector. Furthermore, we will showcase innovation already in this sector, and forecast areas where advanced technology is still sorely needed.

Furthermore, we will probe the frontiers where advanced technology is still in high demand, paving the way for a future where sustainable agriculture isn't just essential but highly lucrative.

If you would like to discuss how best to identify, protect, and commercialise your foodtech or agritech innovations, please contact our dedicated foodtech and agritech team today.

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