Cleaner, faster, more profitable

Technology teams up with farming to help evolve our most fundamental activity

Here's a simple formula that keeps farmers in business and helps feed the world: using less, harvesting more, and timing operations to take account of variables like weather. But the information involved is increasingly detailed and the relationships between these factors are complex. It's time for smart farming to join the dots.

Tractor with a harrow

By Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis on

The future of farming

The challenge of how we’ll feed the exploding world population in the future – in a sustainable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly way – is seeding an agricultural revolution. Welcome to farming of the future : a hi-tech, capital-intensive system of growing food sustainably and cleanly for the masses.

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From drone to tractor

In ISOfocus #122, an edition dedicated to smart farming, we looked at how drones are helping gather the data that makes smart farming a reality. This video from Switzerland-based Pix4D shows how farmers can map fields to use resources better and improve yields.

An infographic showing how ISO standards contribute to smart farming

Standards in action

A bumper harvest of ISO standards that cover everything from soil quality to traceability and food safety

ISO Standards enable efficient use of fertilizers and fuel, delivering substantial reductions in global emissions. Consumer health, and quality food, are also priorities addressed by ISO Standards. Precision agriculture and accurate application of chemicals help protect consumers and get the most from the land. Here you can find our more about the role of standards in feeding the world.

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Making farming more precise

The greatest challenge in the future will be feeding
the world with fewer resources.

ISOfocus talks to Eric Smith, standards expert at John Deere.

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Feeding the world

The future of farming is about feeding the planet while protecting resources such as water, soil and energy. Find out more about the role of ISO standards.

Row of cows being milked

Fonterra’s quest for sustainable dairy nutrition

Are you among the one billion people around the world who enjoy the nutritional benefits of dairy from Fonterra and wonder how sustainable dairy production is? The latest ISOfocus interview with Carolyn Mortland, Director, Social Responsibility, at Fonterra helps allay your concerns.

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ISO and food

Download this brochure for a concise overview of the role of ISO in helping keep consumers safe, covering subjects including food products, microbiology, fisheries and aquaculture, essential oils, starch and its by-products, and food safety management.


Meeting the needs of the world's population today, ensuring there's enough for tomorrow's generations and setting the standards for a secure future

Dr Ren WANG from the FAO

In love with the cocoa:  behind the world's favourite food, we track sustainability issues from bean to bar.

The chocolate challenge

The vast majority of cocoa production comes from smallholder farms under 5 ha, according to the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO). There is often a lack of organization amongst farmers to share resources or burdens, and their productivity is often low or of low quality due to inefficient farming methods. The situation is further compounded by the fact that cocoa trees only grow in regions close to the equator, under the right conditions, and are vulnerable to disease, pests and climate change.

Sustainability issues

Dr Torben Erbrath, Director of the Association of the German Confectionery Industry BDSI’s Chocolate, Chocolate Products and Cocoa Division, says that if nothing is done, consumers will eventually feel the effects. “ Without empowering and investing in small-scale farmers, we will struggle to provide sufficient cocoa supply in the future, ” he explains. “ Young farmers will leave cocoa growing.”

Taking the initiative

There are lots of programmes and initiatives intended to help cocoa farmers and improve the sustainability of the industry, but, some argue, these are not always as effective as hoped and often only really reach the most organized farmers. The International Cocoa Initiative, the European Cocoa Association, the Federation of Cocoa Commerce and the World Cocoa Farmers’ Organization are just some of the entities that have sprung up in the last few decades to improve the sustainability of the cocoa industry. Add to that a number of agreements and frameworks, such as the Global Cocoa Agenda, signed at the first World Cocoa Conference in 2012 by most of the cocoa-producing and -consuming nations as well as industry players, which outlines the roles and responsibilities of all involved to make cocoa production sustainable. This has resulted in many governments of cocoa-producing countries developing national plans aimed at achieving sustainable cocoa production.

A taste of standardization

ISO technical committee ISO/TC 34, Food products, subcommittee SC 18, Cocoa, which is jointly managed by ISO’s member for the Netherlands (NEN) along with members from key cocoa-producing countries Côte d’Ivoire (CODINORM) and Ghana (GSA), is ISO’s first committee for sustainably produced commodities, a new field of expertise for ISO. Together with the European Committee for standardization’s technical committee CEN/TC 415, Sustainable and Traceable Cocoa, whose secretariat is held by Danish Standards (DS), ISO’s member for Denmark, they are developing the ISO 34101 series of standards, Sustainable and traceable cocoa beans, which aims to address the challenges the cocoa sector faces. Along with International Standards such as ISO 2451 and ISO 2292, which set the specifications and quality requirements for cocoa beans, the ISO 34101 series of standards is designed to be used by all those involved in the cocoa supply chain, from the farmers to the purchasers. It is intended to help with the implementation of good agricultural practices, protection of the environment and the improvement of the social conditions of farmers.

If you want the full story of how standards are helping to improve the sustainability of cocoa, you can read the unabridged article in ISOfocus #122.
Female teapicker in a tea plantation in Rwanda

By Maria Lazarte on

Putting waste to good use

Wastewater irrigation is an economical and high-in-nutrients option for even the poorest farmers. But, if untreated, the consequences for our health and the environment can be catastrophic. Discover the techniques that could transform agriculture as we know it, offering perhaps the most sustainable and efficient use of resources available today.

ISO and agriculture

Download this brochure for a concise overview of the role of ISO together with industry, consumers, and regulators and how International Standards address farming challenges

Working together

Collaboration, consensus and finding shared solution that make agriculture work for everyone. Because great things happen when the world agrees

FAO, Assistant Director-General, Ren WANG

ISO can be useful in the establishment of agreed standards facilitating mutual recognition of schemes as well as their use by companies when developing social and environmental responsibility claims and processes.

Assistant Director-General, Dr Ren Wang,on why building a common vision for sustainable agriculture is key and how standards can help.

You can read an interview with the FAO Assistant Director-General here, in ISOfocus.

Find out more about the ISO Technical Committees that work to develop standards for food and farming

ISO/TC 134 Fertilizers and soil conditioners

Standardization in the field of fertilizers and soil conditioners, that is, materials whose addition is intended to ensure or improve the nourishment of cultivated plants or to improve the properties of soils.

ISO/TC 34 Food products

Standardization in the field of human and animal foodstuffs, covering the food chain from primary production to consumption. Find out more about what this ISO Technical Committee is working and the standards that they have published.

ISO/TC 234 Fisheries and aquaculture

Standardization in the field of fisheries and aquaculture, including, but not limited to, terminology, technical specifications for equipment and for their operation, characterization of aquaculture sites and maintenance of appropriate physical, chemical and biological conditions, environmental monitoring, data reporting, traceability and waste disposal.