High tech accelerates food production | Maarten Steinbuch | 12 Oct

With robots harvesting sweet pepper, drones inspecting potato fields and 3D printers making pasta, it is fair to say high tech is having an impact on the agro-food industry. Maarten Steinbuch, professor of Control Systems Technology at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), sketches the latest developments at the Food Valley Expo on 12 October.

High tech will make food production more efficient and sustainable, according to Maarten Steinbuch. “I expect radical changes in the agro-food industry. Robots can help us produce bulk foods more cheaply, more efficiently and put an end to the labor shortages. Sensors enable us to practice precision agriculture, with fewer chemical pesticides and fertilizers, making agriculture and horticulture more sustainable. Modern monitoring systems help us improve animal care and hence animal welfare. And with 3D printers, we can produce personalized food: not just for fun, but also to help disabled people. And these are just a few of the high tech solutions already being applied in agro-food,” Steinbuch says.

Big strides
Steinbuch predicts a leap in cross-over technologies produced by radically different industries. “We’re taking big strides now. Recently, we had a top-level meeting between Eindhoven University of Technology and Wageningen University to discuss ways to accelerate innovation. We’re seeing so many exciting, new links and we want to foster that.”

Asked how this translates to the industry, Steinbuch says: “Innovative businesses from different industries should really spend more time visiting each other. I think it’d be useful to form ‘A-teams’. For example, send a bunch of innovators from the meat packing industry to a car factory, or a group of water technologists to a greenhouse grower. I bet this would lead to dozens of useful ideas.”

Science2Business will highlight recent developments in the field of health and nutrition | The tasty and nutritious future | Monday 12 October>