At the 2018 San Diego Food Tank Summit, Michelle Lerach, President of the Berry Good Food Foundation, moderates a panel on “how science and technology can advance sustainable food systems—on land and in the sea.”
“Today the time is right for the promise to deliver the results that we have long been promised,” says Josh Henretig, Senior Director of AI for Earth & Sustainability at Microsoft. He highlights that providing better insights can help farmers make better decisions, leading to higher yields and lower resource inputs.
“There is a lot of really hot activity happening in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. AgTech companies are starting up by the minute almost, but our farmers don’t know what to make of it. Small communities are not participatory yet,” says Gabe Youtsey, Chief Innovation Officer of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Helping more people share knowledge and make use of this technology to improve their farming operations is incredibly important.
“Breaking down barriers is really powerful for getting information to flow,” says Sarah Mesnick, Ecologist of Southwest Fisheries Science Center at NOAA Fisheries and Adjunct Professor of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. “One of the things we would like to do is integrate that education across this supply chain, so a student is getting a deep education, but they are also exposed to all of these different fields from the very beginning.”
In a low-tech approach, Ryland Engelhart, Co-Founder of Kiss the Ground, points to the ability of soil to capture atmospheric carbon and store it under the ground. He believes that a better understanding of this process can help champion regenerative agriculture for feeding the population and reversing global warming.
As the farming population is aging, panelists also share their concerns about inspiring the younger generation to be involved in our food system. Innovations such as indoor farming can attract the next generation who are interested in various fields including biology, technology, and engineering, according to Alina Zolotareva, Senior Marketing Manager and Product Champion at AeroFarms. “The work [people] do one bite at a time is really changing the planet; that is a real powerful message,” says Mesnick.
Watch the full panel with Sarah Mesnick, Gabe Youtsey, Ryland Engelhart, Alina Zolotareva, and Josh Henretig above.