By Akerele Christabel 10:58 pm PST

Sitting on just one acre of land, Mike Lelkind’s $50 million indoor farm produces lettuce equivalent to what 10 acres of outdoor farm will produce. The world’s first fully automated farm, 80 Acres Farms introduces itself as a farm that

“…brings you the next generation of fresh, delicious food—grown 100% pesticide-free at an eco-friendly indoor farm near you.”

Producing more than 2 million pounds of lettuce, this farm is able to carry out 17 to 20 more growing cycles than outdoor farms each year.

The concept of indoor farming has been changing the world’s perspective to producing sustainable foods. Much of its growth is owed to advancement in agricultural technology. And with the world’s population expected to hit 10 billion by 2050, there is no better time than now to make the shift to indoor farming. A larger population would mean less land, but more mouths to feed whilst absorbed in a battle for environmental sustainability. The agricultural industry has to match up to the needs of supply and safety as soon as possible. Technology has made this possible.

A soon to be $50 billion industry by 2026, the indoor farming technology market has maintained a growth rate to match up with man’s ever-increasing needs. One of such advancements is 80 acre’s fully automated farm that allows just 10 people to plant and manage 70 to 80 thousand plants/day thus making effective use of manpower- which is increasingly becoming a scarce commodity to come by.

One farm produce that has suffered greatly from the lack of manpower are strawberry farms. Too delicate to be picked by anything but the human hand, strawberries require a delicate touch that technology has not been able to provide…up until now.

Advanced Farms have developed a ‘strawberry picker’ called the TX20 Strawberry Harvester- the first machine in history to pick strawberries. It uses a company of cameras, together with sensors to ‘…precisely identify the strawberry’ and delicately pick it using a suction, twist, and grasp process. This revolutionary invention can cover over a quarter to half an acre/hour. This is equivalent to the job of 25 to 80 workers.

Amidst advancement to read the health of plants, produce fully organic and pesticide free foods in record breaking time, Africa has not been left behind.

Sieka Gatabaki, Deputy Program Director Mercy Corps Agrifarm in an interview with botanist James Wong talks about how his company’s app is helping farmers in Kenya make more smart decisions for their small and medium scale farms. The app uses satellites to help detect and forecast problems with land and weather, providing very useful information for farmers to make decisions. He shares that his company is endeavoring to create ‘…a future where small-holder farmers prosper in a digitally interconnected world’.

Livestock too has not been left out. a company whose apps also uses information gotten from satellites to help farmers make better decisions for their animals. Where to feed, where is best to drink, what to expect of the nutrient quality of grass, when to leave a grazing land etc.; the app helps answer these questions as well as provide other services with just a tap on their mobile phones

Amidst all of these technological advancements, fears have risen as to what the future holds from human labor. However, many farmers like Matt Conroy, manager of Good Farms believes that what this inevitable advancement in Agric-tech will do is not to take away jobs but rather open a new kind of door of opportunities for people. The future holds a growing demand for more tech-oriented people and thus is becoming a lucrative source of income, even in the Agricultural Industry.