Tag: Agroecology

Algorithmic Imaginations in Agriculture: Automation?

In 2022, I was conducting my doctoral dissertation research on data-driven, automated digital farming technologies (drones, autosteering, sensors, GIS, smartphones, Big Data) in Turkey. Amidst the global hype for digital agriculture, often referred to as “smart” farming or precision agriculture, new agritech companies and startups in and beyond Turkey have been emerging alongside agribusiness corporations. These companies invest in and prioritize data-driven and algorithmic technologies over human involvement in agriculture with the assumption of the former’s objectivity and precision (Bronson 2022). For instance, the market in Turkey provides farmers with access to drones for precise chemical spraying, including fertilizers and pesticides. These drones operate autonomously, enabling farmers to target specific sub-fields rather than resorting to mass spraying. Farmers can also access various smartphone applications that, for instance, claim to offer real-time data on soil conditions at the sub-field level collected through sensors and algorithmic recommendations ensuring precise irrigation. Additionally, the companies imagine generating valuable insights into the agricultural sector for agricultural corporations, financial and biotechnology firms, and public institutions through these data-driven technologies. While not all of these technologies are extensively used by farmers in Turkey, the companies continue developing, marketing, and showcasing them and many others to automate and gather data for a wide range of agricultural operations with the claim of improving food security and ecological and socioeconomic welfare. (read more...)

Ways of Knowing: Lessons on Agroecological Transitions from a Pothwari Farm

Contemporary agroecological farming is a knowledge-intensive form of production that can maximize the productivity of energy flows, which are central to the productive forces. Cumulatively, it is suggested, the terms and conditions by which the contemporary agrarian question can be resolved is through an agroecological agrarian transition. (Haroon Akram-Lodhi, 2021) Three years ago, I started a farm in my village Tareel, which is located less than ten kilometers outside the metropolitan border of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Tareel is in the rain-fed Pothwar plateau near the Himalayan foothills, and like many peri-urban areas in South Asia, is rapidly urbanizing and increasingly reliant on the nearby urban economy. The rain-fed nature of agriculture here makes it more prone to climatic risk and loss, and therefore less remunerative. As a researcher and self-identifying ‘citizen planner,’ I was curious if new methods of agriculture could make the sector remunerative enough to counter the desire to convert agricultural land into real estate. Since I was familiar with the emerging significance of agroecology and regenerative agriculture  in climate adaptation, I was motivated to understand what it would take to help us transition towards practices closer to agroecology. (read more...)