Technology in agriculture, also referred to as AgTech, is transforming farming as we know it. In 2018, global agricultural corporations invested $1.6 billion across 209 deals in the AgTech industry. Many of these organizations utilize innovative software like cloud computing, drone technology and IoT systems — devices ranging from cell phones to smart irrigation systems and self-driving tractors that connect to the internet.
Innovations in agriculture rapidly evolve, with some technologies making more of an impact than others. Precision agriculture, a farming method that relies on real-time data to make efficient decisions, incorporates the use of sensors, robotics and control systems. This technique has revolutionized farming around the world.
New technology in agriculture looks to confront contemporary issues like population growth and climate change. Many farmers want to optimize all aspects of their operations, from energy-efficient air compressors to high-tech workflow software that cuts down on labor costs and pesticide applications.
Discover five innovations that are changing the game in agriculture.
Table of Contents
1. Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology is most often associated with the rise of cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin. But this advancement can apply to any system of data.
Blockchain, in simple terms, is a digital ledger. It’s essential in large economic systems that want to distribute digital information but protect it from editing.
Having a shareable database of encrypted information is an excellent resource in the world of agriculture.
Countless steps exist between the grower and the consumer’s plate, and it can be tricky to keep everything in one place.
Companies like the Agricultural Data Coalition view blockchain technology as a vital tool in improving supply chain transparency within the food system.
2. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing, or the process of storing data on a remote, is increasingly popular across a variety of sectors, including agriculture.
This technology changes how farmers can track, analyze and process information. It has simplified the process of collecting crucial data about a crop’s yield, soil health and other factors and compiling it in one central location.
This innovative technology transforms agriculture in diverse industries, ranging from dairy farms to hydroponics. For example, Land O’Lakes dairy cooperative utilizes Google’s cloud service to integrate land management with Google Maps, making it possible to track which areas need more inputs or water.
3. Vertical Farming
Vertical farming is the process of growing plants in stacked layers within a climate-controlled environment. Since this system can operate indoors, it reduces the space needed to grow nutrient-dense food. It can also work in urban areas, decreasing the carbon footprint of transporting fresh produce thousands of miles.
The process of growing crops in this manner utilizes Controlled Environment Agriculture technology, artificial management of factors like light, temperature and moisture levels.
Some types of vertical farming alter agriculture by growing produce without soil, a process known as hydroponics. This method of agriculture significantly lessens the cost of inputs and can lead to more efficient harvests compared with traditionally grown items.
4. Long-Range Wi-Fi
While new technologies may look like ideal solutions in theory, they can be challenging to implement in practice.
Many farms operate in extremely rural areas with limited or no access to a wireless connection. However, some companies work with farmers to create hotspots around their properties, setting up networks that make it easier to access the internet in remote areas.
This innovation makes it easier for farmers across the country to access advanced systems. The market for this technology, a subset of precision agriculture, enables farmers to connect with the cloud without needing to install broadband.
5. Smart Irrigation
Traditional agricultural irrigation systems rely on preset programming that schedules watering times but is unable to do much else.
Smart irrigation, however, incorporates new technology that can measure soil, weather and evaporation and adjust settings based on real-time conditions. As a result, farmers see a significant reduction in water usage.
Sometimes, operations require compressed air to bring water to specific areas and optimize growth. By ensuring less downtime with compressors, farmers can ensure crops and livestock have this essential ingredient.
Some setups also use subsurface drip tape, allowing irrigation lines to run close to the soil and reduce the amount of fluid lost to runoff.
Innovative Technology on the Farm
AgTech innovations modify the daily processes of enterprises, including how farmers collect and share data and measure water usage in the field.
New technology may increase production efficiency, reduce labor costs and improve the environmental footprint of energy-intensive operations.
The longevity of these technologies depends on how AgTech economic incentives affect the market. According to research, for instance, experts predict the agricultural drones market to increase from $338 million in 2016 to over $1 billion in 2024.
With substantial investment opportunities guiding the path for these new advancements, how innovations will revolutionize farming is unprecedented.
Technology giant IBM will play a key role in how precision agriculture continues to rearrange the industry.
A new data integration, Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, enables farmers to collect information such as soil type, fertilizer application rates and visual imagery from satellites and drones.
Not only will farms have access to a vast amount of information, but it will all be available in one easy-to-locate spot.
As a result, farmers can make faster and smarter decisions, cutting costs, improving operational efficiency and gaining higher-quality results.
The potential for unprecedented efficiency and productivity rates in the sector is attainable with these new AgTech innovations.
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