Writers linkdin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonnyfry/
Blockchain is the ledger of transactions and accounts, noted and stored by all involved participants. Its purpose is to increase transparency, trust and accountability, and this is why it is an important element of modern-day farming. For example, blockchain in farming and agriculture has been employed as a system that increases the volume of reliable information available concerning inventories, contracts in agriculture and the general state of the farms. In the past, collecting such types of information was a costly affair, but blockchain is changing the narrative.
The use of blockchain technology has made it possible to improve the quality of the food supply chain and enhance the trust between the customers, retailers and farmers by constantly tracking the source and sustainability of various foods.
As a reliable method of storing data, blockchain-powered platforms enable the facilitation of various information-driven innovations in order to herald a new era of smart farming. Using smart contracts, it is possible to automate many processes and can enable transactions between various stakeholders in a timelier fashion.
Concerns about blockchain in farming or agriculture
Since blockchains rely on controls set by private organisations, it is easy for erroneous people to manipulate them to their own advantage. Unsurprisingly, privately-owned blockchains are less secure and easier to tamper with. Furthermore, small-scale farmers who do not have the required size, technological know-how and scale to apply blockchain technologies may be left behind. There are also concerns that blockchain technologies can be misused or abused and culminate in undermining food security.
SABIC launches blockchain pilot project
Saudi Primary Industries Company (SABIC), a Saudi Arabian chemical substances producer, recently launched a blockchain pilot venture together with the expertise agency, Finboot – with the objective to examine the determine how blockchain technology is able to offer end-to-end digital traceability of feedstock. The current technique of tracing the journey of feedstock is made arduous by the complexity in the petrochemical and chemical industry supply chains. SABIC’s blockchain pilot believes it will be possible to reduce prices and time, enhance knowledge integration, reduce administrative efforts associated with the certification technique of supplies. Finboot’s ‘MARCO’ software program will track the product from where it is produced to SABIC who convert the base product into its round polymers. The supply of round polymers to Intraplás, a manufacturer of plastic laminated goods and packages for the food industry, for conversion into its packaging options will then also be able to be tracked.
Ucrop.it is an Argentina-based ‘agri tech’ company that tracks farmers’ sustainable practices on its blockchain-enabled platform. It creates ‘Crop Story,’ a blockchain-recorded data and information record that traces the farmers’ sustainable practices and helps them leverage their sustainability performance to access credit facilities from lenders. Ucrop has raised $3.1 million and is using blockchain to solve the differentiation between conventional commodity crops and climate-smart ones in an efficient, decentralised, digital and scalable way.
Vertical farming is a means of advancing the controlled environment of a modern commercial greenhouse. Through stacking plants vertically on shelves or tall pillars, vertical farming enables 10 times the yield for a given land area. Plants are grown in a completely enclosed environment, with LED lights instead of sunshine and closed-loop water recycling. A vertical farm can fit the equivalent of 250 hectares of farmland into a building the size of a large supermarket and, by utilising the artificial day length and season, it can produce crops all year round. In vertical farming, automation, data, sensors and other technologies are essential to its success and hence this type of farming may even have more use for blockchain as a result.
Relevant here is that blockchain’s tracking ownership records and tampering prevention functions can be used to solve the pressing challenges in the current food system. Integration of the two (blockchain and vertical farming) would undoubtedly help to improve the agriculture industry and livelihood of millions around the world. The pairing of vertical farms and blockchain is to apply the distinctiveness of the decentralised structure of the blockchain to ensure proven products and production practices, thereby enabling a transparent marketplace for high-end products. Most critically, the right pricing will also balance market pricing for vertical farms while creating a healthy ecosystem.
Martian Farms is combining vertical-farming and LED-light technology with blockchain traceability to improve productivity and reduce labour. The proprietary LED technology being utilised uses up to 99% less land and 98% less water than traditional methods. It aims to meet the need for nutritious food with cutting-edge processes to grow local, sustainable, zero-pesticide produce that is particularly productive and efficient (using some NASA-inspired technology), whilst blockchain provides the required traceability on every product from seed to sale.
Some benefits of vertical farming
The Trellis protocol is the first on-chain network of hydroponic farms helping cities reclaim food sovereignty by funding, building and operating high-tech vertical farms which grow produce all year round using 95% less water and space. Trellis functions on three key technologies: hydroponic farms, decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) and agricultural cooperatives. They work together to allow cities to efficiently grow their own food indoors (saving 95% of the water and space compared to traditional farming), replacing traditional institutions with decentralised protocols and enabling small-scale farms to work together to leverage the unit economics of the enormous corporate farms which dominate markets. Trellis aims to help the average person own part of a vertical farm whilst also making hydroponic vegetables more competitive with traditionally grown produce. By combining agricultural cooperatives, hydroponics and blockchain, Trellis seeks to open vertical farming up to everyone whilst pioneering a disruptive model for the future of food.
However, although blockchain has great potential in agriculture, there are still many issues to be addressed before the technology can truly be integrated into the agricultural world. The implementation must be decentralised and all-inclusive, involving the rural people and small farmers, and it must allow equitable and sustainable food systems so that consumers can make informed decisions.