Technological advancements are bringing massive changes in various industries. The agriculture sector is no different as it continuously looks for new ways to increase the total output. Innovation is more than necessary for the agriculture industry today as it faces multiple challenges, such as the growing population, the rising cost of supplies, etc.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the world population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. The increasing population can lead to food shortages and other issues. Many agriculture corporations use new technology solutions to deal with this problem.
The Farm Tech Investment Report by the AgFunder shows that investments in “Farm Tech” soared to $7.9 billion in 2020. Many technological innovations, such as advanced greenhouse practices, livestock technology, etc., are helping the agriculture industry.
Technology Advancements Leading to Modern Farming
From indoor vertical farming to AI and Blockchain, much new technological advancement is changing the course of agriculture. Let’s get an insight into the new agriculture technology in modern farming.
Indoor Vertical Farming
Sustainability is a major concern for many consumers and businesses in various industries. Even in agriculture, corporations seek sustainable solutions to help them with their efforts. That is where vertical farming plays a critical role.
Various studies show that vertical farms utilize 70% less water than traditional farms. Indoor vertical farming refers to growing produce in a closed environment. The crops are stacked over each other, consuming less water while yielding more crops.
The technological advancement can help farmers reduce the harmful environmental impact by cutting down the supply chain process. Most importantly, the shelves are mounted vertically, so there would be less land required than conventional farming methods to grow plants.
Since vertical farming can thrive in a limited space, it is an ideal option for urban farming. Additionally, these farms don’t soil for plants that are necessary for traditional farms. Some are aeroponic, where plants receive water and nutrients through spraying, while most are hydroponic, where the plants grow with the help of water-based mineral nutrient solutions.
Indoor vertical farming offers many benefits, such as increased crop yield, lower labor costs, sustainable growth, etc. As a result, it helps increase food production with reliable harvests. Furthermore, automation also reduces labor costs as robots handle most of the processes.
The greenhouse industry globally produces more than $300 billion globally. The share of the United States in the entire production is less than 1%. The greenhouse industry has undergone a massive transformation in the last couple of decades.
Primarily, the greenhouse industry was popular with helping for research and aesthetic purposes, such as botanic gardens. However, in recent years the industry now has various large-scale facilities. The reason for this massive transformation is the rapid technological advancements.
Greenhouses today can produce crops on a large scale. In recent years, there have been various new technological advancements that we have seen in the greenhouse industry. For instance, the industry uses automated control systems and LED lights to create an optimal environment for growing plants.
Most greenhouse companies are increasing their production capacity and keeping their facilities close to the urban hubs. This way, they can capitalize on the demand for fresh vegetables and other crops, regardless of the seasons.
The industry is also becoming more and more capital-infused to improve processes and bring in new technological solutions. Most greenhouse companies are using venture funding to build the infrastructure to get a competitive edge in the current markets.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Various industries are utilizing AI and machine learning today to increase productivity and streamline processes. The case is no different from the agriculture industry, which can use this technology to gather more information and data.
Various devices, such as UAVs, remote sensors, etc., can help farmers gather data without being present in the field. They can check the soil condition, know the humidity and temperature, etc., around the clock. The data can be of great significance as it can help farmers better understand their crops.
For instance, the remote sensors can help them monitor the situation and the condition of the crops without being present on the ground. This allows them to monitor the situations more accurately and quickly rather than walking through the entire field.
Moreover, the remote sensors allow algorithms to decipher the environment as stats and data. Farmers can use this information in their decision-making process to get better results. The algorithms will also use the data for learning and adapting to the information they receive.
In a nutshell, AI algorithms can help farmers achieve their objectives of a better harvest. They can use the statistical data to make better decisions.
Precision Agriculture (PA)
Precision Agriculture is a technique that allows optimal farm management through technology. The main aim of this approach is to ensure that the plants and soil get the right amount of nutrients for increased productivity and better health.
Various PA companies are developing new techniques and technological advancements to increase crop production. These companies are developing new technologies that enable farmers to control the variables of crop farming like soil conditions, environments, moisture levels, etc.
Young farmers are working with startups that offer technological advancements to help in maximizing crop yields. Therefore, we expect to see more precision agriculture companies enter this space.
A recent report by Grand View Research, Inc. estimates that the market value of precision farming will reach close to $20.84 billion by 2030. Rapid advancements and precise techniques for farming can allow farmers to reduce their costs and increase efficiency.
Smart farming refers to the technology and automated solutions for farmers to increase their crop or livestock production. Various companies are focusing on robotics innovation to develop:
- Seeding robots
- Robotic harvesters
- Autonomous tractors
- Automatic watering
- Automated drones
While these technologies haven’t been in the market for long, some agriculture companies are now incorporating automation into their processes. From robotics, and AI, to drones, new technological advancements are transforming modern agriculture.
The main objective of smart farming is to incorporate technology that can handle basic and easy tasks. Technologies like seeding and weeding, harvest automation, etc., can handle mundane tasks much more efficiently.
Farm automation offers multiple benefits, such as automating the mundane, increasing productivity, etc. It also addresses some of the major challenges the farming industry faces today, like the labor shortage, increasing demand due to the global population, and changing customer preferences.
Livestock Farming Technology
The livestock industry is a sector that hasn’t received the same level of attention as other sectors. It is a vital part of the agriculture industry since it provides various essential products.
Livestock management is more challenging since it primarily consists of cattle ranches, poultry and dairy farms, and various other agribusinesses. The entire management process requires businesses to keep an eye on the health of the livestock, maintain records of the finances, etc.
However, the latest technological developments in the last decade have made it much easier to manage livestock. These technologies make it easy to keep track of nutritional data and overall productivity, streamlining the entire livestock management process.
Livestock technology can also play an important role in improving the production capacity of livestock. For instance, by putting individual wearable sensors on the animals, you can monitor their activity and find out any health-related issues by collecting relevant data.
The data can help the producers to take quick actions and decisions. Similarly, sensor and data technologies can also have a significant impact on the livestock industry. It can identify and detect sick animals, which can help you to take relevant action before the illness worsens or spreads to other animals.
Furthermore, computer vision can give you access to data and information through which you get meaningful insights. You can make data-driven decisions that can allow you to increase the overall productivity and efficiency of the livestock herds.
Blockchain technology is leading to massive transformations in various industries, but how does it apply to agriculture? The unique decentralized structure of this technology can provide solutions to various problems, such as food traceability, supply chain inefficiency, etc., in the current system.
Food traceability is the center of discussion when it comes to food safety. In the case of food borne diseases, tracking down the source of contamination is more than necessary. With the blockchain structure, each party in the food value chain can share data that helps create a liable and traceable system.
Keeping up with the latest trends in the agriculture sector can help farmers and businesses increase their productivity while focusing on sustainability.
As sustainability becomes a concern for various consumers today, we can expect to see new trends coming into the market. Additionally, farmers can collaborate with different startups and other businesses to increase their network and stay up-to-date with all the latest developments in the industry.