Holistic agriculture

In the early 2000’s, farming was intense for the farmers and for the land. They used to farm using mono-cultures which have shown to be destructive: ecosystems were collapsing. These cultures couldn’t sustain themselves. Pesticides were used to keep control but they turned out to be toxic for the animals and humans, and spoiled the soil. As a response, other ways of agriculture returned and developed and increased popularity. Permaculture, strip farming, and regenerative farming are some examples of the new way of farming. These methods that utilize the diversity of the land, while being dynamic over time. At the same time, people were inspired by indigenous farming methods that were more connected with the local ecosystem and cultivated and nourished a healthy relationship between humans and nature. Combined, this led to a new wave of Holistic agriculture, a way of farming that supports the health of the ecosystems by nourishing symbiotic interactions between animals, plants, insects, fungi, and soil, humans included. It’s a way to cultivate biodiversity and resilient systems that offer plenty of food and resources for humans, while these resources are being fed back into the ecosystem, as a supportive role. Sustaining the balance of everything.

 Humans will creatively work on methods to create these balanced conditions. One part of this is rewildingRewilding gives spaces for nature to growth and flourish without too much human intervention, what saves energy investments. But nature is not all nice, truly invasive species should be controlled by other species to sustain a natural balance. To realize this, future farmers can re-introduce and support key species that have left the old ecosystem such as indigenous species. They might even prevent these species from extinction through this way. Future farmers will also introduce and (minimally) support bees, ducks, and small lakes to sustain the complexity of the ecosystem. Bees will pollinate the flowers, chickens and ducks will control the insect population, lakes will serve as reservoir and a home for many fish, insects and birds, predators will control the herbivores, herbivores will control the plants, forests will be a safe space for animals, and offer food and wood for humans. 

Future farmers will be in a supportive role to sustain a healthy balance of the ecosystem and minimally intervene. They are driven by the self-restorative power of the ecosystem. Farmers will thus also be conscious of what they can harvest and avoid degeneration of the ecosystem. Plantation will be guided on nutricious-rich vegetation, making the forests real food forests, while excess growth and old animals can be used to serve as food for humans.

The documentary  The biggest little farm is a good inspiration to learn more about this.

Holistic

Self-sustaining ecosystems by utilizing and supporting the biodiversity of species, that also enables a diverse diet for humans.

Resilient

Adaptive farming along with the seasonal changes, health of the resources, well-being of the farmer, and desires of the customers.

Generative

Create a circular ecosystem where at least ass much food grows as is being harvested.















Bio-generative tooling

One of the main challenges of farming is the harvest. Farming is wasteful and intense for the crop as big machines harvest fruit and vegetables with brute force, or extract the whole plants with roots and all. Slicing and cutting the plants requires the crops to completely regrow and bare fruit again. If not done by machines, it is very labour intensive to pick and pull individual fruits and vegetables from the plants. With adaptive, bio-generative tools, as discussed on my main future page, we create animate materials that adapt to the environment, such as tools that adapt, mould and branch in respect to fruits and leaves, carefully picking berries of a tree. Adaptive algorithms through sensoring can sense the placement and necessary force to wrap around berries or bananas to get what they need without hurting or destroying the plants too much.

To have the best food it is important that farmers work effectively with the symbiotic relationships in the forest, seasonality, weather shifts and other factors. Farmers can perfectly time their harvest and planting moments, and take the right actions through the support of an AI-assistent. This assistant uses sensor technology from the ecosystem (such as population sizes, water level, PH-levels, and plant color) and data from the internet (such as weather predictions, moon phases, and local activities) to support farmers in making intelligent decisions. However, models will be incorrectly and data will be incomplete and there’s a large body of knowledge in the mind of the farmer and his own well-being is a dependent factor too. So this AI-assistant functions more as a partner to talk with and exchange information.

Bio-materials

Harvesting tools are made from bio-materials that similar to the complex organismic tissue of living beings.

Sense and adapt

Utilizing sensor technology to adaptively sense the environment, mould, branch, shape and adapt towards it.

Intelligent

Generative algorithms that learn and adapt based on the feedback and interactions and holistic well-being models.




















Machinery

Harvesting by humans can still be labour intensive. In the future, there will be many hobby-farmers who will enjoy harvesting and eating their own food. But there will be also many mouths to feed. Machinery will support in growing, harvesting and distributing the food. This machinery will also be adaptive to its environment but is strongly integrated in the ecosystem. In fact, some people might think they are animals when seeing them the first time wandering around in the field.

Friendly

Machinery will be safe and supportive towards humans and wildlife. It might also support the feeding of the animals in the ecosystem. Future developers will spend much effort on creating these conditions.

Efficient

The adaptive structures and generative intelligence will create effective mechanisms that is attuned to important parameters optimizing efficiency (such as harvest amount, species well-being, and energy consumption).

Smart

The use of sensoring and generative algorithms will create very smart machinery that holistically calculates its actions but serves the well-being of humans, animals, and plants.

























Supporting healthy soil 

Because of the degradation of the soil, future generations were spending much efforts to develop tools to clean and filter the soil. Plastics, PFAS, and other waste materials were challenging to retain from beneath the surface. But at the same time, frontiers of the circular economy also realized the opportunities of harvesting and re-using these materials, since the production of these materials became scarce. These same frontiers became inspired by nature. They were utilising the branching patterns of plants, trees, and mycelium that create large networks beneath the surface. This act of understanding and copying the function of nature is known as biomimetics (an extension of  biomimicry). 

At the same time, the farmers and researchers also realized the importance of the underground networks and connectedness between plants, fungi, and animals and insects that live below the surface. Some plants for example, need other species of plants and fungi around them to exchange resources, this happens through the rootsystem. Known as companion planting, farmers utilize the symbiotic relationships between plants, while some fungi also have such a relationship with plants. Furthermore, the rootsystem and mycelium network is being used as a communication network through which trees, plants, and fungi support each other. Respect and understanding for this network improves the health of the plants as humans gently nourishes the underground network, guides it friendly, and learns in the process.  

Using this knowledge, humans created new bio-organic “living” artificial organisms. These were creations that function very similar to fungi and plants. SOme of these creates were develop to harvest and extract toxic materials through an artificial but bio-organic rootsystem. They are fungi like structures that grow and branch, surfacing plastics to the top through the root system. But also other artificial organisms were invented. For example, bio-organic wells that filtered and pumped water to the surface, root support systems that offered a foundation and provide important minerals to difficult plants that grow tasty fruits and vegetables. Plants with artificial solar-panels that efficiently provide plants with energy to support their growth. And potentially even new kinds of plants that create instant products or food for humans and animals to use. 

This idea was partly inspired by Fung.ai, a very innovative start-up of a friend of mine.

Harvesting waste

New nature-inspired techniques will create new plant-like artificial organisms that harvest toxins, plastics, and other harmful material to create rich and healthy soil.

Nurturing resources

Supportive artificial organisms that support the growth and well-being of key-organisms, including humans.


Bio-organic materials

The artificial organisms will be made from bio-organic materials as their structure is inspired from living animals and plants. 



























Integrated in society

In my future of work article, I discuss how future society focuses directly on sustaining themselves on all scales. Providing for the needs that sustain themselves of which food and water are one of the most fundamental ones. Holistic agriculture is thus also more and more integrated in the personal lives of people. It is now deeply rooted in the education system and in organizational models. Almost everyone has some mini-garden in or around their house, or has close connections to people who work with their food. People now are much more connected and some even have strong emotional bonds with their food. Through this way, farming also becomes much more de-centralized and local. Spaces are created between the buildings for food forests and pleasure gardens. But many of these spaces are a shared and organized effort instead of individuals having their own gardens. There will be plenty of food available and people feel free to pick a few berries when they are hungry. Nevertheless, more collective effort is needed for more processed food, such as bread.

Together, this way of doing farming fosters community and creates a shared responsibility. But working in the gardens is not everyone’s favorite job to do. But that is no issue, because these places also become a place for experiences. There are open spaces where people gather for playing music, dancing, good conversations, sports, and other activities people enjoy. People are needed to organize these activities, to research nature, and to facilitate collective initiatives. Next to the social purposes of the gardens, the (local) food forests also serve a perfect place for people to experience nature itself. By just enjoying the birds and animals in the forest during a picnic, or by taking hikes across the country (and possibly engage in cross-local trade).  

Connected 

People feel connected to their food as it is locally produced by themselves or relatives, experiencing the effort and energy of growth, while respecting the food and animals when consuming. 

Work

Sustaining and growing nature is an integrated part of work. Organizations facilitate the health of food gardens and forests and organize the production of more complex foods.

Experiential

The gardens and forests offer also space for the community to connect and gather with each other, while also for individuals to connect to the beautiful sights, animals, and forests.
















Mutual exchange

Learning from nature and animals through research brings us closer to them, as it also brings them closer to us. In the process, we learn a lot from the bio-organic growth of nature as we try to utilize this in our organic tools and artificial organisms. We exchange information with the animals and their way of living and be inspired by their wings, feet, extraordinary senses, and digestive systems. We use this information to create new ways of transportation ( read my article about this) and improve our ways of communicating with each other (known as biomimicry). Together this improves humanity as it becomes less wasteful, more respectful, and connected to nature. We become more part of nature instead of being above it.

Nevertheless, at the same time we as humans distinguish ourselves in our communication, use of tools, and organizations (these are entangled btw). We are a very innovative and creative species but also organize ourselves through a moral code. In my article about the future of meaning and spirituality I discuss the road of things we can still develop in this direction, but there’s a basic sense of values and purpose that creates impressive collective actions and organization. As we start to feel more connected to nature, we extend our morality to nature as well; treat it better, and support its growth. We become supportive guardians that are a part of nature but also use our remarkable strength to foster and develop our own society and create a better holistic collective. 

In this process, we also learn to communicate better with animals and plants, through sensor technology and innovative scientific set-ups, we learn about their desires and ways of communication and interacting with each other. We learn about the electro-magnetic fields of bees and flowers, the scents of ant colonies, and the deep vibrations of elephants and whales. With enough knowledge, we can also use their ways of communication to communicate with them. We might even teach them in certain topics or have primitive conversations by exchanging sounds, vibrations and scents. If we are able to realize this, we can be truly connected to nature, and ultimately to ourselves. The bees and plants might have a lot to say to us, as we might have a lot to say to them. This might be a while before we perfected this, but we are innovative species who love to learn.  

Learning

There are many things we can learn from nature, utilizing the growth mechanism, the shape of wings and feathers. As we can also teach nature about the things in our mind. 

Holistic communication

Through our innovative research, we can interact and exchange knowledge with nature, some kind of patterned interaction shaping each other and learning through each others’ strengths.

Being part of everything

When we understand our holistic part and connection to everything around us, we can truly understand our place in the universe, and our role to sustain ourselves, humanity and the whole.























Holistic living starting today

While many of the visions described here, picture a far future. Many are also developing already, just a change of mindset paves a way to regenerative agrictulture, and care about a holistic ecosystem. But people do this already on several locations. Research and experimentation is still needed to create artificial organisms. Artificial intelligence and sensor technology is developing fast today, which is already a big leap in the right direction. You can start working on this today. 

If you like this direction, please share it with people and through any (social) medium platform you desire. If you prefer a different direction, please comment or send me an e-mail to see how we can change course. A utopia should be for everybody. 

If you want to work on this directly, let me know! Contact me to join forces and work together. I’m currently searching for ways to realize this vision.

If you have a place for me to share my story, I can give an (online) talk to inspire others 

This is about your own and everyone’s future, so lets get going!