Skip to main content
Move the World.

With a growing population, changing consumption behavior and a climate crisis, how will we feed our future world? The answer may not be increasing resources--land, water, and employees--but rather improving production efficiency. The key question: How do we increase the amount of food we produce while using the same or fewer resources?

In the first episode of our original series, Future of Food, we take a look at sustainable agriculture.

Efficient Farming in The Netherlands is Producing 20x More Food, 4X Less Water and the Most Sustainable Food Systems in the World

When it comes to scaling agricultural production sustainably, one country seems to be cracking the code. Bolstered by a national commitment to produce twice the amount of food with half the resources, the Netherlands has become the world’s #2 produce exporter. The close collaboration between the government, science organizations and the food industry have driven impressive innovation and an efficiency that’s unmatched anywhere else in the world.

“In the world we live in nowadays, you need to link up with other people. You can’t do it on your own. We need to produce more. We need to do it with less inputs. And we need to do it better.”

Ernst van den EndeWUR Head of Plant Sciences

On a normal open-field tomato farm, one could expect 4 kilograms of yield per square meter. In a high-tech greenhouse in the Netherlands, that number shoots up to 80 kilograms of yield per square meter, with 4X less water. That’s a 20X improvement on output! And it’s not just tomatoes--the Dutch are #1 in the world on producing chilis, green peppers, and cucumbers (measured by yield per square mile).

Sustainable Farming Practices Driven by AI

The technology behind these greenhouses allows for an extreme level of control over water, light, temperature, and CO2--all of which are finely tuned and optimized. Constant testing on countless variables is what drives these facilities and could be the future of our planet’s sustainable food systems. Tests can be as simple as comparing different hues of LEDs to increase tolerance against pests, or as advanced as a moth-killing drone.

In addition, technology is simply getting better. More and more, efficient farming is becoming automated, using artificial intelligence to find the optimal conditions. By learning the behaviors of plants, climate computers can adjust conditions far better than a human.

Scaling Efficient Farming: It’s All About Knowledge Sharing

The Netherlands is not just thinking about the Netherlands. Besides leveraging technology in efficient ways, these innovators are exploring how to use their findings on a greater scale. For example, their greenhouses emulate climates across the world in order to optimize growth outside of the country. As they learn about what’s optimal in Colombia, for example, they can then transfer that knowledge and help build sustainable food systems across the globe. This level of big picture thinking could be a game-changer as we tackle one of society's greatest challenges in the coming years.

For more entrepreneurs seeking to Move the World, check out all of our Entrepreneurship & Innovation videos now. If you're in need of innovative approaches to sustainable food production, take a look at our video, Growing Food with Seawater below:


Connect

Up Next

Future of Fertility
Why Don’t Women’s Health Companies Get Adequate Funding?
women's health
Future of Fertility
Why Don’t Women’s Health Companies Get Adequate Funding?
Celmatix Founder and CEO Piraye Beim gives an inside look into the battle to secure funding for women's health.
By Julia Sklar

Celmatix Founder and CEO Piraye Beim gives an inside look into the battle to secure funding for women's health.

Innovation
Hacking Surfboard Fins to Fight Climate Change
Hacking Surfboard Fins to Fight Climate Change
Watch Now
Innovation
Hacking Surfboard Fins to Fight Climate Change
How can a surfboard modification help save the oceans?
Watch Now

He doesn’t surf, he doesn’t code, but he’s hacking surfboard fins to combat climate change and it’s working. Meet Andy Stern, citizen scientist and founder of Smartfin. He's brought together surfers and oceanographers to create a smart surfboard fin that's collecting vital data to track and fight climate change. As far as oceans go, the environmental crisis doesn't just affect the icebergs - it affects all of us. Surfers...

Health
The Future of Healthcare Could Look a Lot Like the 1900s
The Future of Healthcare Could Look a Lot Like the 1900s
Health
The Future of Healthcare Could Look a Lot Like the 1900s
For many cancer patients, being treated at home is just as safe, more affordable, and more convenient than being...

For many cancer patients, being treated at home is just as safe, more affordable, and more convenient than being treated in a clinical setting.

Innovation
Giving Animals New Legs
Giving Animals New Legs
Watch Now
Innovation
Giving Animals New Legs
Derrick Campana is a prosthetics engineer helping animals walk again with artificial limbs.
Watch Now

Derrick Campana isn’t your typical... anything. He’s a prosthetics engineer helping animals walk again - or walk for the first time - with artificial limbs. In the old days when an animal had a broken leg, they would often be euthanized--and only if they were very lucky would they wind up with a leg cast. Derrick Campana wants to put those days in the past. He’s creating prosthetics and casts for all manner of...

Dispatches
Tesla and Uber Fatalities Show the Limits of “Semi-Autonomous” Cars
Tesla and Uber Fatalities Show the Limits of “Semi-Autonomous” Cars
Dispatches
Tesla and Uber Fatalities Show the Limits of “Semi-Autonomous” Cars
How can we make humans pay attention when a machine is doing our job for us?

How can we make humans pay attention when a machine is doing our job for us?

Challengers
Five Insights: Ryan Petersen on Tackling Problems That Feel Too Big to Fix
Five Insights: Ryan Petersen on Tackling Problems That Feel Too Big to Fix
Challengers
Five Insights: Ryan Petersen on Tackling Problems That Feel Too Big to Fix
Flexport's founder discusses the personal and business side of building an ambitious startup.
By Mike Riggs

Flexport's founder discusses the personal and business side of building an ambitious startup.

Challengers
Four Crazy Ideas From the Golden Age of Nuclear
Four Crazy Ideas From the Golden Age of Nuclear
Challengers
Four Crazy Ideas From the Golden Age of Nuclear
For a couple decades people thought nuclear power was the answer to pretty much everything. And they came up with...
By Mike Riggs

For a couple decades people thought nuclear power was the answer to pretty much everything. And they came up with some ideas we’ll generously call visionary.

Challengers
Can This Startup Power the World With Nuclear?
Can This Startup Power the World With Nuclear?
Challengers
Can This Startup Power the World With Nuclear?
Leslie Dewan and her team at Transatomic believe they've figured out a safe, scalable, cost-effective way to power...
By Mike Riggs

Leslie Dewan and her team at Transatomic believe they've figured out a safe, scalable, cost-effective way to power the world with nuclear.

Challengers
Meet the Startup Developing Human-Level Artificial Intelligence
Meet the Startup Developing Human-Level Artificial Intelligence
Challengers
Meet the Startup Developing Human-Level Artificial Intelligence
The story of Vicarious' mission to build the world's first human-level artificial intelligence and use it to help...
By Mike Riggs

The story of Vicarious' mission to build the world's first human-level artificial intelligence and use it to help humanity thrive.