World

Precision Agriculture Celebrated at Guggenheim

An exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum provides a thought-provoking experience on the ways technology can affect agriculture throughout the world.

Mar. 4, 2020
By Claudie Benjamin

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A recently opened exhi­bi­tion has been draw­ing crowds to the famous Guggen­heim Museum.

The show, Coun­try­side, The Future, housed in the land­mark build­ing designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on New York’s Fifth Avenue, runs until August 14, 2020.

Coun­try­side, The Future con­tests the assump­tion that ever-increas­ing urban­iza­tion is inevitable, explor­ing rad­i­cal changes in the rural, remote and wild ter­ri­to­ries col­lec­tively iden­ti­fied here as coun­try­side,’ or the 98 per­cent of the Earth’s sur­face not occu­pied by cities.- Exhi­bi­tion orga­niz­ers

The museum is known for inno­v­a­tive exhibits that some­times incor­po­rate dance and music per­for­mances, mak­ing dra­matic use of the open space that spi­rals up from the ground level. How­ever, this one that focuses on the envi­ron­ment is the muse­um’s first-ever non-art show.

Through­out the exhibit, the orga­niz­ers demon­strate to the urban museum audi­ence what many in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor have known for a long time: sus­tain­abil­ity and food secu­rity mat­ter in a very real way.

See more: Cul­ture News

And the coor­di­na­tors of the show do not dis­ap­point. The exhibit is beau­ti­ful, even over­whelm­ing. It chal­lenges the viewer to look, lis­ten and make an effort to under­stand the con­cepts that are being pre­sented.

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This exhi­bi­tion is an attempt at rec­ti­fi­ca­tion, and its con­tent is drawn from a large con­sor­tium of col­lab­o­ra­tors rep­re­sent­ing diverse global geo­gra­phies and a broad range of exper­tise,” the exhibit’s orga­niz­ers said.

Coun­try­side, The Future con­tests the assump­tion that ever-increas­ing urban­iza­tion is inevitable, explor­ing rad­i­cal changes in the rural, remote and wild ter­ri­to­ries col­lec­tively iden­ti­fied here as coun­try­side,’ or the 98 per­cent of the Earth’s sur­face not occu­pied by cities,” they added.

The mul­ti­me­dia exhibit includes murals that appear to have been cre­ated dig­i­tally, and show the changes in agri­cul­ture and land use since early human his­tory.

It illus­trates not only sow­ing crops in gen­eral but the larger social and cul­tural con­texts of agri­cul­ture, from Marie Antoinet­te’s fan­tasy re-enact­ments of peas­ant life to hip­pie com­munes and expen­sive spas in Patag­o­nia.

The con­clu­sion about how all this applies to mod­ern agri­cul­ture is pre­sented to the viewer at the top of the muse­um’s spi­ral­ing path­way.

By then, most have grasped the ideas that are pre­sented about cli­mate change as well as find­ing ways to ensure healthy soil and respon­si­ble water use for a more sus­tain­able future.

Pre­ci­sion farm­ing is one of the main themes of the exhi­bi­tion. Among the ideas being con­veyed are the impor­tance of what nutri­ents are being absorbed by crops and live­stock. Tar­get­ing treat­ments and inter­ven­tions to sup­port improved pro­duc­tion and lower costs were also high­lighted.

Agri­cul­ture from numer­ous eras and per­spec­tives is cap­tured at the Guggen­heim.

The exhibits demon­strate how automa­tion and tech­nolo­gies designed to ana­lyze the chem­istry of the grow­ing process are both inte­gral parts of pre­ci­sion farm­ing.

Printed out on the floor, in rel­a­tively small let­ters, which require the vis­i­tor to bend over and scru­ti­nize them, is an expla­na­tion that relates to olive grow­ing, and all other agri­cul­tural endeav­ors:

Pre­ci­sion farm­ing is designed to pro­duce max­i­mal yields. Agri­cul­ture on this scale is to a large extent facil­i­tated by the tech­nol­ogy of pre­ci­sion farm­ing: com­bine in algo­rithms that deter­mine the opti­mal appli­ca­tion seeds, fer­til­izer, pes­ti­cides, and her­bi­cides.”

Through­out the exhi­bi­tion, there is a strong empha­sis on the idea that agri­cul­ture is of vital impor­tance to peo­ple through­out the world and that inno­va­tion may derive from ideas across cul­tures.

For exam­ple, one cap­tion relat­ing to an exhibit pro­duced by researchers from Wagenin­gen Uni­ver­sity in the Nether­lands explains, pixel farm­ing” — a type of agri­cul­ture in which dif­fer­ent crops are planted across a grid com­posed of 15.5 square inch quad­rants — is inspired by pre-Columbian Mayan agri­cul­ture, where it was com­mon to plant com­bi­na­tions of corn, beans and squash to share nutri­ents and under­ground resources.”

A key les­son advanced by the cura­tors is that agri­cul­ture has come a long way over the mil­len­nia, yet the world is at the begin­ning of an era where these tech­no­log­i­cal appli­ca­tions will become increas­ingly pre­cise and eas­ier to use.





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