Sustainable farming

Growing more with less

Changing the way we farm

Sustainable Farming is all about finding new ways to grow the food we need to feed a growing global population sustainably.

Novel ways of farming are set to play a vital role in transforming the current food system into one that limits its negative impact on the environment, decelerates climate change and provides enough sustenance to feed growing populations.

‘Sustainable Farming’ refers to new ways of growing our food – from the use of high-tech robotics, data analytics and digital tools for more accurate monitoring of soil, irrigation and strip tilling, to vertical farming, to other sophisticated technologies for higher efficiency and sustainability. As well as producing higher-quality food, updated farming methods will reward farmers and improve the environment in the process.

Why does farming need to change?

The global agricultural system needs to undergo rapid, radical transformation to avoid running out of food to feed the world’s population according to a joint report by the UN and the World Bank (1). By 2050 the world will need to produce 70 per cent more food than it does at present – despite the fact that agriculture already accounts for more than 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions (2). 

Sustainable farming, even on an intensive scale, can actually help to mitigate the effects of climate change by encouraging biodiversity, sinking carbon and through regenerative methods, but current ways of livestock rearing and levels of meat consumption cannot continue. This is why innovation is vital to guarantee food security for the world’s population while also ensuring farming exerts less pressure on the planet.

Future of Farming Image

Discussing the challenges of traditional agriculture, the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) food systems expert James Lomax writes: “Current food systems are failing us. We have to look beyond the idea that more food in the world and greater productivity will solve our problems. Local and national food systems need to be strengthened to adapt to the climate crisis. Diversity in diets can help farmers diversify their risk, and increase biodiversity and resilience.” (3)

What makes a smart farm?

Many innovative measures in Switzerland and beyond are addressing the upheaval that is needed in farming with new techniques and technologies. Already, the smart agriculture market size is expected to triple worldwide by 2025, to a value of $15.3 million (4).

Some of the issues being addressed encompass, but are not limited to, water management, pesticide and antibiotic reduction, environmental monitoring, pathogen and disease detection, and more sustainable ways of growing food.

A number of pioneering new technologies are being deployed in the process, including drones, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), smart sensors, autonomous robots, smart seeds, satellites and hyperspectral imaging. 

While industrial robotics and sensors have been used in agriculture for decades, the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning are opening up new worlds of innovation – allowing farmers to monitor crops, soil and disease, manage herds and track water usage in real time. Technology also helps farmers to increase their profit margins while easing workloads.

What are the key challenges?

Connecting farms digitally is an ongoing process and ideally a permanent, always-on digital agricultural ecosystem is needed to meet the demands of the world’s growing population. These are complex and multifaceted systems which comprise of many stakeholders across the sector, and there is still a lack of compatibility between systems. As with any connected technology, privacy concerns and security issues pose a level of risk, while the use of AI will inevitably lead to automation, affecting the availability of labour. 

The Swiss ecosystem actors

Switzerland has a historic tradition of environmental protection legislation, and is – fittingly – now leading the way on smart farming.  Numerous Swiss businesses are at the cutting edge of smart farming. Switzerland’s  world-class universities, like EPFL with its Integrative Food and Nutrition Center and ETHZ’s World Food System Center, also represent vital research platforms studying food and agricultural security. Valley members and the wider Swiss ecosystem are in an excellent position to contribute to the Future of Farming, for a less harmful and more sustainable food chain.

#NFGrapevine NFT
#NFGrapevine NFT is for anyone looking to further their real-life Web3 learning and join a network of like-minded individuals and organizations who appreciate art, wine, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

ADM is committed to providing a clean label to customers through traceability practices

Aero41 Ltd is a Swiss UAS Company founded in 2019. The Company aims to develop the ultimate crop protection UAV for agriculture and other “heavy load”​ projects, deliver services in Switzerland and internationally.

Agropôle is a unique campus connecting all the agri-food business stakeholders and accelerating the deployment of world-class innovations: an active community, R&D projects, fields for trials, and strong commercial networks, for the implementation of sustainable food solutions.

Agroscope is the federal government’s competence center for agricultural and food research and is attached to the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG).

AgroSustain – a one-stop-shop solution for biological plant protection. We aim to reduce food waste and support organic food production by developing farm to fork solutions, like biological fungicides and coatings.

Simplicity, responsibility, and reliability are the core values that guide its actions. For the Swiss retailer, this means not only offering high-quality products at consistently low prices but also ensuring sustainable, environmentally friendly, and animal-friendly production.

BeeHelpful produces and sells PrimalBee® System, a new patented honeybee hive, and high-quality services for honey farms and pollination companies worldwide. Our services range from on-site consultancy in Customer’s apiaries to remote metric collection and data analysis.

BusinessIn initiates synergies and creates impact on sustainability of SMEs and startups in the agrifood ecosystem by connecting them to other innovation actors such as research entities during events set up in collaboration with public and private actors.

CleanGreens Solutions
CleanGreens Solutions provides growers cultivation technology and knowledge to lead a profitable business and agriculture towards sustainability.

Cluster Food & Nutrition
The Cluster Food & Nutrition is an association active in the agri-food industry since 2015.

dsm-firmenich is using Path2Farm™ – a proprietary digital traceability application – to provide customers with sourcing information from farm to final product.

We are the leader in Europe in transforming coffee husk and pulp (i.e “cascara”) normally considered as fruit waste by the coffee industry, into antioxidant healthy organic drinks.

Ecorobotix develops, manufactures and commercializes innovative, energy-saving farming machines, which allow both the environmental impact of modern farming and its costs to be reduced.

EPFL through its Integrative Food and Nutrition Center – brings together more than 350 internationally recognized Professors that can provide expertise in the field of digitalization, from media analysis, food behavior monitoring and smart wearables to manufacturing optimization and modeling.

ETH Zürich
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH Zürich) is a public research university characterised by its curiosity-driven approach to science, excellence in research, innovative teaching, strong partnerships and entrepreneurial spirit, which all contribute to its vision of paving the way in a complex world.

Fabas is developing a novel plant-based ingredient to produce the NextGen of plant-based food.

Falconum SA
Falconum is a development and construction company whose goal is to create innovative solutions for our community in food production and access to vital resources such as water and energy.

farmer connect
farmer connect© is a tech start-up that enables the unlocking of benefits along global supply chains through their end-to-end traceability solution. 

Where Food & FoodTech professionals come to get the inside scoop on industry news and meet partners, friends, mentors, investors – and everything in between.

Founder Institute
The Founder Institute is the world’s most proven network to turn ideas into fundable startups, and startups into global businesses. Since 2009, their structured accelerator programs have helped over 6,000 entrepreneurs raise over $1.75 billion in funding.

Fruitful Farming
We are Fruitful – a team of tech enthusiasts using cutting-edge data science and image processing for controlled environment agriculture.

KNOW YOUR LAND – Gamaya improves efficiency and sustainability of farming businesses by offering unique and compelling digital agronomy solutions, enabled by drones & satellite remote sensing and artificial intelligence.

Givaudans Sourcing4Good program is driving transparency across supply chains.

The main goal of the association GOOD IS… is to ensure via the automatic distribution (known as vending):
The promotion of healthy, vegan, natural food-based exclusively on ingredients from fair trade, sustainable, renewable sources, respectful of the environment and natural cycles…

Insolight brought to market a novel solution to efficiently combine solar electricity production and agriculture, without trade-offs.

Kickstart is one of Europe’s largest zero equity, multi-corporate ecosystem innovation platforms that run a scale-up program for later-stage startups with a goal to accelerate deep tech innovation.

MABEWO AG invests in innovative and sustainable projects that solve the key challenges of our time, like: how to protect the climate, how to increase renewable energy, conserve critical resources such as land and water, and how to help people who lack even the most basic resources?

Since 2016, MassChallenge Switzerland has been a leader in helping startups grow their businesses by accelerating 610 startups across the world in multiple industries. They have raised more than $985M in funding.

Mocoffee was founded in 1991 by the hand of a revolutionary engineer who invented the coffee pod with the aim of sharing the best espresso worldwide.

NEMIS Technologies
NEMIS tackles the current challenge by offering a rapid and cost-effective lab-free screening tool. Our method enables extensive and frequent on-site testing, revolutionizing environmental monitoring.

Innovation is Nestlé’s hallmark. We’re committed to developing innovative products and services that provide nutrition and health for people and pets everywhere, across all their life stages, in a way that’s good for our planet.

Office for Economic Affairs and Innovation / State of Vaud
The Office for Economic Affairs and Innovation (SPEI) supports companies that are located in the State of Vaud, especially those involved in the sectors of advanced technology and industry. SPEI advises entrepreneurs and puts them in contact with organizations that are appropriate to their specific needs. SPEI can also provide direct financial support.

planetary is an infrastructure platform designing, building and operating upstream, downstream and formulations capacity and related IP for biomass and precision fermentation players globally.

ProSeed provides upcycled food raw materials to the professional ingredients market. By combining technological know-how and a circular approach, ProSeed upcycles by-products from the food industry, such as brewers’ spent grains and fruit pomace, into quality raw materials.

Regenerativ Schweiz
Regenerativ Schweiz offers online and face-to-face courses for regenerative agriculture and accompanies farmers with coaching and consulting on their way to sustainable food production.

REM Analytics
REM Analytics provides a novel method to profile the micro type in people.

SERA Intelligence
At SERA, our mission is to simplify the complexity of horticulture. We believe no problem is more essential than ensuring humanity’s continued access to healthy, affordable and sustainably grown food.

Spiruline SwissMade
Spiruline SwissMade contributes to the well-being and health of consumers of its spirulina. By being a major player in the dietary supplements market, we respond to the new challenges and dietary needs of society by providing healthy solutions to improve the well-being of consumers through quality products that are eco-responsible.

Swiss Food Group
Swiss Food Group is an independent group investing in aspirational brands and specific know-how in the Food & Beverage industry in Switzerland.

Terraview GmbH
Terraview enables vineyard managers take data backed decisions to optimise quality and quantity of harvest. TerraviewOS, our SaaS platform aids in scouting, traceability, and helps our customers be better prepared for challenges from climate change.

The Cultured Hub AG
Our purpose is to accelerate our journey to cultured food. We do this through Scale Up as a Service facilities for startups, bridging the gap from small lab environment to industrial manufacturing.

The Fribourg Development Agency – State of Fribourg
Since 1971, the Fribourg Development Agency (FDA) has been helping local businesses to get off the ground, outside companies to relocate to the region, and established companies to expand their operations.

Thought For Food
Thought For Food is the world’s next gen innovation engine for food and agriculture. We create, empower and support a new generation of leaders to solve our planet’s most pressing challenge: How to sustainably feed 10 billion people?

Trinova AG, based in Wangen SZ, has been active in the feed and food industry since 1992. For now 30 years, our young, dynamic and independent company has been providing the manufacturing food industry as well as feed mills with the best service, ingredients, additives and food supplements – for a balanced, sustainable and healthy diet for humans and animals.

Umami is a true pioneer in agritechnology and is leading the way into a new era of farming with a consumer-facing brand. We design bio-natural ecosystems and combine them with state-of-the-art technology to produce pure food. Our bionic indoor farm, with its unique and unimitable microbiome, guarantees highly efficient production all year round while never ever adding fertilizers, chemicals or medication – since 2018.

Vivent has developed PhytlSigns, a pioneering technology system, which interprets plant electrophysiology using machine learning. They provide early warnings of a wide range of crop stressors, well before visual symptoms, enabling growers to increase yields and to choose environmentally preferable crop protection.

Voltiris offers a solution that allows growers to gain energy independence, profitability, and sustainability. Voltiris solar modules filter sunlight to transmit only the components needed for photosynthesis to crops, while also producing solar energy with the unused light.

We use patented technology to transform human and livestock urine into two valuable products: a fertilizer free of all dangerous pollutants and water that can be reused, this while drastically reducing ammonia emissions and water pollution.

Weekly Food Sàrl
Weekly Food – Fresh box of meals prepared in Switzerland and ready to eat since 2021.

YASAI builds and manage Vertical Farms based on a circular economy to transform food systems. Their mission is to contribute to local food production, independent of climate circumstances. We grow more with less fresh water, less fertilizer, and less land. They achieve more yield per square meter with zero pesticides all year round right at your doorstep.

Sustainable farming & the Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 global goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015 with the aim of ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring peace and prosperity for all. Find out how future farming can contribute to to the delivery of these goals below.

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Farming is a key contributor to food security and plays a vital role in feeding the growing global population. Adopting sustainable farming practices can help to increase food production and reduce food waste.

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Many farming practices, such as the use of pesticides and fertilizers, can pollute water sources and negatively impact human health. Adopting sustainable farming practices that minimize these negative impacts can help to protect water quality and promote access to clean water.

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Sustainable farming practices can help to reduce the environmental impacts of food production, such as greenhouse gas emissions and soil degradation. These practices can also contribute to more efficient use of resources, such as water and energy.

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Farming is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, but it can also be part of the solution to climate change. Adopting sustainable farming practices that sequester carbon in the soil and reduce emissions can help to mitigate climate change.

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Many farming practices, such as the conversion of natural habitats to cropland, can have negative impacts on biodiversity. Adopting sustainable farming practices that protect and restore natural habitats can help to preserve biodiversity and the ecosystem services that it provides.


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