Deploying agricultural technology is essential to supporting regenerative agriculture, sustainable farming and soil regeneration, fundamental approaches to meeting the needs of a growing population with a sustainable supply of food. Few factors are as important to crop yield as proper soil moisture and root uptake of water and nutrients. Modern connected sensors can accurately assess the effects of irrigation or drought and allow for remote monitoring and management of crop health. Agtech systems must be highly adaptable to environment and crop type, as climate conditions and growing methods can vary greatly worldwide. The following reports give an overview of some of the most important commercially grown crops, including common growing methods, growing challenges and market conditions for each crop.
CornCorn is the world’s most important row crop. All commercial corn is grown from hybrid seeds developed for resistance to herbicides and also certain diseases. The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of corn, with most of the harvest going to non-food uses such as fuel, feed for pets, livestock or industrial products.
SoybeansSoybeans are the second most planted crop in the US. Because they fix nitrogen and corn depletes it, they are a natural rotation crop for corn. All commercial soybeans are grown from hybrid seeds, with over 10,000 cultivars available. About 12-18% of harvested soybeans can be extracted as oil, much of the remaining “cake” is used as livestock feed.
Sugar BeetsSugar beets are the source for about 57% of the refined sugar produced in the US. The rest comes from sugar cane. There is no chemical, quality or taste difference between beet sugar and cane sugar. Sugar beets are not marketed in their raw form in the US, all are processed to sugar after harvest, mainly by factories owned by cooperatives.
PotatoesPotatoes are the world’s most important vegetable crop. They are tubers, as a potato grows underground attached to roots, and must be dug up to be harvested. The biggest producer of potatoes today is China. Around 40% of the yearly world harvest is processed, mostly into French fries or chips. Potato starch has many uses other than food.