This research aims to understand how, by whom, and with what intentions and objectives digital farming technologies are being developed, and what this means for the future of food production. Digital innovations in agriculture have attracted much interest in recent years, and are often touted as the solution to feed the world with less resources, inputs, pesticides, human labour, and detrimental environmental impacts than the current food system. At this point, however, it is unclear whether digital farming technologies will indeed fulfil such promises. This research project presumes that digital farming technologies need to be studied at their initial research and development levels – to fully understand the various motivations, goals, practices, and decisions made during these early, but critical, stages of technological development – and therefore the products that will come to market. Long before technologies arrive at the farm, various actors – scientists, technology developers, engineers, Start-Up entrepreneurs, ‘urban hipsters’, financiers, and business leaders – begin to imagine, develop, and make key decisions concerning the future use of technologies. Understanding these initial stages of development will allow us to gauge how these processes determine how, by whom, and under what conditions digital farming technologies will be used in society. This research will be done by undertaking participant observation and qualitative interviews within two of the most expansive and innovative clusters of agricultural technology development in the world, the University of California (UC) system, coupled with Silicon and Central Valleys in the US; and Wageningen University & Research (WUR), with Food Valley, in the Netherlands. Within these sites, I focus on two major funding structures and entrepreneurial cultures, university-based Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), and finance-capital funded Agtech Start-Ups to draw my larger conclusions.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call