‘Sustainable development’ is the key phrase in every industry these days. And why not, if humans keep producing the way we have, the imminent catastrophic effects of global warming will hit us sooner than expected. Changes had to be made in the technology we use, and we did that – using newer, better technology. This is also happening at a fast pace in the oldest industry known to mankind- agriculture.
Primitive agricultural practices involved manual labour. With the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, farming techniques became more automated. However, that technology was not sympathetic to the environment. It would go on to cause tremendous damage to the ecosystem, an evil that continues to haunt us. To overcome the negative consequences of the past and present, we are battling against time with sustainable agricultural tech. Precision agriculture is our best bet for the future.
Farming Revolutionised With Tech-Based Agriculture
Smart farming has transformed the food production industry at its core. North America is leading the way with a market share of 37.34%, followed by Europe and Asia. The approximate market value of precision farming is expected to reach US$ 9.53bn, and that’s just in the USA. These statistics show that developed economies are readily adopting sustainable and high-tech farming techniques. However, agri-tech is being taken up in developing countries too, albeit on a much smaller scale. Farmers are more aware than before about practices that improve soil quality and increase their yield.
In an earlier article, we had roved about and discussed the challenges facing precision agriculture. The limitations we talked about included the lack of proper infrastructure for rural areas to access this new tech. Additionally, the AI at work should also have a huge capacity to scope out, analyse, and present statistical data in an intelligible manner. The good news is, these problems have been resolved for the most part. What has IoT-enabled agriculture facilitated for the modern-day farmer?
Precision Agriculture: Opportunities for Today’s Farmer
In developed economies, farms are huge. If farmers were to follow the obsolete methods of farming that involve personally inspecting their land and crops, food production would stop. Automation in farming helps these farmers to take better care of their farms by integrating satellite mapping, sensors, and other analysis tools. Here are the opportunities that have opened up for today’s farmer.
- Monitor Farm Health: The health of a farm is a constitution of many facets. The minerals present or absent in the soil, the nutritional condition of crops, moisture and temperature levels, et cetera. Scientifically-advanced agriculture is possible after measuring all these physical factors and making the stats available for the farmer to evaluate.
Sensors attached to farming machines can compute soil, crop, and air quality in real-time, as they move around the farm.
- Accounting for Variable Factors: Remote sensors that help monitor the farm’s health provide detailed statistics that are specific to smaller grids. Armed with this information, automated farming vehicles can do more than just collect data in real-time, they can solve problems too.
These vehicles can spray fertilizers where needed while holding it off in plots that are already healthy. Farmers play the role of a supervisor as the technology works for them. Variable-rate technology has taken precision agriculture to the next level.
- Advanced Crop Protection: Crops that require extra care are also not left out from the benefits that precision ag offers. The fertility of the soil can be closely monitored so that pests and insects don’t infest the crops. With automated tools in place to stay on the lookout for risks, crops are in better shape, and losses due to infestation are avoided.
- Reduce Wastage, Increase Profitability: The expenses that farmers have to incur to kickstart modernisation of their farms might seem daunting. But this capital investment can go a long way in increasing the profit margin over a period of years.
Wastage of raw materials is decreased as their usage is monitored and regulated as per their requirement. As precision agriculture makes it easier for farmers to manage their large farmlands and increase its productivity, the revenue graph goes upwards.
The Pressing Need for Higher Yield
The world population has crossed 7.7bn and is expected to reach almost 10bn by 2050. The demand for food can grow by up to 98%. Land is a limited resource and clearing it for agriculture to increase food production has been proven to be a bad solution. The only way that farmers can meet the food requirements of this world is with the help of technology that makes sustainable farming possible.
Precision farming enhances the productivity of existing agricultural lands. Millennial farmers are at the helm of this change. The use of AI will definitely shoot up, relieving farmers of most of their decision-making roles. However, the amount of e-waste generation will also rise and without proper management, we will have another big problem at our hands before one is solved. The challenges are aplenty, and it remains to be seen how well we prepare ourselves to face them.