PepsiCo: Agricultural Hero?

 

Is PepsiCo the next unlikely hero of sustainable agriculture? It's certainly trying to be--the company's new i-crop precision farming technology has the ambitious goal of allowing PepsiCo's farmers around the world to monitor, manage and cut down on their water use and carbon emissions, all while maximizing crop quality and yield.

PepsiCo's web-based software works by drawing together information from soil moisture probes and local weather stations. This data should cut down over and under-watering, which in turn reduces excess energy use and carbon emissions. In testing, the software has been shown to help farmers reach 90% efficiency in water usage.

The i-crop technology, developed in conjunction with Cambridge University Farms, has been in development for the past five years. It's currently in testing at 22 farms in the U.K., and by 2011, it will launch across Europe. The software will be available in India, China, Mexico and Australia by 2012.

I-crop is all part of PepsiCo's plan to reduce water usage by 50% in 5 years. Richard Evans, President of PepsiCo U.K. and Ireland, says: "i-crop has the potential to revolutionize the way we farm, enabling our farmers to save costs and water and carbon consumption, while at the same time improving their yields. I am immensely proud of this innovation which I hope will also benefit PepsiCo farmers around the world."

Will PepsiCo release i-crop to the general public? If the technology is so revolutionary, surely the company should consider letting the rest of the world use it. After all, PepsiCo is hardly the only company that needs to cut down on its water consumption.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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