Such is the impact of mankind upon the planet that the Geological Society of London has proposed that the current geological era be christened ‘The Anthropocene’. Attention is now turning urgently to finding ways of making our presence on earth more benign, particularly in relation to agriculture, the origins of which are being linked with the beginning of this new, man-made geological age. A recent upsurge of private and public research has been directed toward finding cleverer, more sustainable alternatives and aids to the technologies that have been used to grow food since the middle of the last century. Agriculture has historically been the most complex and the most important of mankind’s interactions with nature, and both the focus and the facilitator of many of our species’ greatest social and scientific achievements. It was the grains, fruits, vegetables and fibre crops that were first domesticated 10,000 years ago that allowed enterprising hunter-gatherers to abandon their nomadic lifestyles and settle in more complex, organized communities, beginning human life as we know it.
In the Anthropocene era, the growth in human numbers and the gathering effects of our activities on long term climate stability and resources availability calls for innovation in food production and an emphasis on sustainability. While the major Agro-chemical companies such as Bayer CropScience, Monsanto and Syngenta are investing $ billions in new crop protection and nutrition products, a small group of innovative technology companies is attracting the attention of the global AgChem leaders and of investors. These companies are developing disruptive technologies spanning crop protection, yield enhancement, input efficiency, climate and data management and precision farming.