The French Ministry of Agriculture has released a report, Agriculture Innovation 2025, which proposes 30 different innovative projects for competitive agriculture that respects the environment.

The projects are organized along three broad priorities – making agriculture help in the fight against climate change, using new technologies to advance agriculture, and uniting the fields of research, experimentation and development to help increase competitiveness. Within each of these broad priorities are several themes and within each of those are numerous proposals that relate to the broader subject.

The proposals are large in scope – they range from researching the use of robotics in agriculture to further developing agroecology to improve soils – and take a long view. But the proposals are also detailed, laying out precise numbers and goals.

They represent the future of agriculture in France and the effort that France has taken to creating innovative solutions to agricultural problems. The French government wants the nation to be on the forefront of cutting-edge technologies and this plan acts as a roadmap for how to achieve that.

Here is a highlight of three themes laid out in the report:
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ROBOTICS
The robotics theme lays out a goal of creating agricultural equipment that is fast, precise and safe. It contains three proposals: Creating a dedicated agricultural robotics program, structuring an industrial fabrics program through a public-private partnership and creating an open platform for testing and validating robotic innovation.
The report recommends taking the following actions: include agricultural robotics in the New Industrial France plan, start an agricultural robotics research plan with a goal of creating five types of agricultural robots that are produced in France, increase robotics students’ interest in agricultural problems by organizing agriculturally themed robotics challenges.

Important numbers:
$16.3 billion: The predicted global market for agricultural robotics in 202.
1,300: The number of robotics researchers in France that could be mobilized for agricultural research
20: The number of robotics laboratories in the world specifically focused on agricultural robotics

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

AGROECOLOGY
The area covered in this theme is large: soil research, an action plan for fighting climate change (including the 4 per 1000 Initiative), creating a portal of services and climate data for agriculture, promoting integrated water management, and providing easy-to-use diagnostic health tools to farmers.

The importance of soils in agriculture plays a key role in this theme. Soils are absolutely essential to agriculture – they provide agricultural, wood and fiber products, can help limit climate change by stocking carbon, and serve as a filter for water supplies.

The proposals in this theme aim to improve and protect these roles by research and protection, including protecting biodiversity, better mapping of soils, and better identifying important soil characteristics through research.

Important numbers:

$13 trillion: The annual global value of services provided by soils
5 metric tons: The average weight of living organisms in soils per hectare
1.2 billion metric tons: The weight of carbon that could be stocked each year in agricultural soils.

BIOCONTROL
This part of the report is about structuring research to reduce the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture by developing alternatives to pesticide use and supporting farmers who take alternative approaches.
Overuse of pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics can have severe negative consequences. The chemicals used in agriculture all eventually end up in waterways and can be a serious cause of pollution. Overuse of antibiotics can lead to the creation of dangerous antibiotic resistant bacterial infections. Reducing the need to use these chemicals is what biocontrol is all about. It uses natural methods as a more sustainable alternative to the use of harsh chemical products.
The proposals in this theme focus on finding more alternative solutions to chemicals and increasing and favoring the use of alternative methods.
Important numbers:
15%: The percentage of the French agricultural health market devoted to biocontrol
15%: The annual anticipated growth rate
5,500/20,000: The number of direct and indirect jobs in France supported by the biocontrol industry, today and in 2020.