Dan Wolfson, IBM distinguished engineer with the Weather Company, discusses the potential of artificial intelligence for agriculture.

As an example, Wolfson explains how smart visual recognition techniques can help farmers identify problems, such as disease, in the field – without even the need for online connection. Satellite and drone imagery also have exciting potential, he argues, pointing out that AI doesn't replace human activity, but is more "another tool in the box". 

This week: Kené Umeasiegbu, head of environment at Tesco talks about how food retailers can tackle environmental challenges in supply chains, and the benefits of using science-based targets.

Plus: mass reforestation and climate change, $1bn green bond for Brazilian soy farmers, more waste returned to Australia, UK LPG switch to biofuels, and the world’s 2bn tonnes of municipal waste problem, in the news digest.

Hosted by Ian Welsh

Richard George, head of forests, Greenpeace UK, and Innovation Forum’s Toby Webb discuss the main findings from a new Greenpeace report into what companies have been doing to meet 2020 targets to eliminate deforestation across supply chains.

George says that Greenpeace has taken a cross-commodity approach in this latest report as single supply chain campaigns – such as on palm oil – lead to lack of progress on other commodities – such as soy. He argues that it is clear that many companies have found that ending deforestation is more complicated than they at first thought, and that many big commodity buyers need to act now to make the big changes in their business models that are required to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

Tamara Ansons, behaviour science consultant at Ipsos, and Ian Welsh discuss new research – from Ipsos and Innovation Forum – that shows how consumers, particularly younger consumers, are engaging with corporate sustainability issues. The results show that all demographic groups are interested in making sustainable choices, but conflicting demands makes acting on these a challenge. Ansons argues that companies should think about how to make these consumer choices easier. 

Click here for more detail about the Ipsos-Innovation Forum research. We’re looking for new partners to work with to develop more research that is really valuable for business. Interested? Click here to get in touch.

This week: David Cleary, head of agriculture at The Nature Conservancy, talks with Toby Webb about land conversion challenges for South American forests and other biomes, including the Cerrado. And Rob Waterworth, chief executive of the Mullion Group, discusses with Ian Welsh what the food sector can learn from forestry to improve stakeholder relationships and trust.

Plus all the news about what’s coming up at Innovation Forum.

Hosted by Ian Welsh

This week: Golden Agri-Resources’ Anita Neville on how the debate on biofuels is shifting and how palm oil supply chains can become more impact-positive alongside focusing on deforestation.

Plus: Arctic permafrost melting far faster than expected; climate change dangers for the Amazon; PepsiCo’s new Latin American recycling programme rolled out in Peru; and Boots replacing plastic bags with paper, in the news digest.

Hosted by Ian Welsh

Libby Bernick, managing director of Trucost Corporate Business, S&P Global, discusses with Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh the changing business models required to truly capture the value of food, and the role of better data management in solving this.

She argues for taking total environmental and social costs of commodities into account – something that investors are increasingly asking for. Lenders, too, are keen to reflect environmental and social performance when pricing finance, Bernick says.

David Wilkinson, head of agriculture procurement at PepsiCo, talks with Toby Webb about the technology that, at scale, is growing efficiencies in-the-field in the brand’s supply chains.

They discuss the growth of precision agriculture techniques and how Pepsico has been changing how it engages with its farmer-suppliers helping them to benefit from best practices increasing yields and reducing inputs.

Jill Wheeler, head of sustainable productivity Syngenta North America, and Duane Martin, commercial traits manager at Syngenta Seed, talk with Ian Welsh about some specific commodity supply challenges, and innovations that can provide solutions.

They discuss how to increase productivity in developed and developing markets, concerns at the rates of soil degradation, how to develop better resource efficiency, and how agriculture can contribute to really tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

Mariano Lozano, CEO of Danone North America, discusses with Toby Webb about what’s necessary to make the business case for real change in agriculture practices. Lozano talks about the dual challenges of creating value for the company, alongside convincing farmer-suppliers that changing their practices will mean less volatility and greater returns over the long-term.

Lozano argues that “sustainability” is no longer enough, with a move for the agriculture industry to being regenerative now necessary. As an example, he highlights the importance of putting carbon back into the soil, specifically increasing the organic material in the key top six inches from 0.5% to 2%.

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