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conference 09

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Increased Productivity and Sustainability in Agricultural Production Systems


John Reid, Ph.D., Director, Product Technology and Innovation, Moline Technology Innovation Center, John Deere

The last 100 years have been an age of mechanization that has taken the drudgery and labor out of crop production systems via the large-scale industrialized farming systems that replaced the horse and plow. Intertwined with the mass mechanization and infrastructure development of modern agricultural production systems, advances in chemical technologies have enhanced plant growth and controlled pest infestations. In addition, leaps in plant system genetics and biotechnology have helped to create the efficient cropping systems we have today.

This evolution of agricultural production systems occurred in an energy-rich environment without many of the sustainability constraints that face society today. Regulatory pressures and climate change are now driving a more proactive vision of sustainable and efficient agricultural production systems. The driving forces of population growth over the next five decades will increase the requirements for productive and efficient agricultural production systems—or alternative systems that replace them—to meet societal requirements. These factors create great challenges for agriculture, as well as great opportunities for innovation—and systems engineering and systems thinking have mission critical roles.

Incremental innovations that result in increased efficiency of current production systems will be part of the solution. Further integration of value chains to better connect consumers and producers are another form of innovation. Looking at the impact of completely new agricultural production systems not constrained by historical paradigms may result in disruptive innovations that change the face of some forms of agriculture. Systems engineering approaches are critical to driving innovations that can meet sustainability constraints. Long-term sustainable worksite solutions will need to be adaptable to rapidly changing input, resource availability, technology, and global markets.

This presentation will provide examples of current and future applications of systems engineering to create agricultural worksite solutions that have the potential to meet agriculture’s challenges.

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