Feed the Planet: “Smart Agriculture” as a Synergy of IT and Farming
The growing role of agriculture
According to UN forecasts, by 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion people and, as a result, world agricultural production will grow by almost 70% in the next few decades. Therefore, to meet growing demand, farmers and agricultural companies are turning now to innovative technologies that increase efficiency and agricultural work.
Precision farming as a global trend in increasing agricultural efficiency
Technological innovation in agriculture is not a new one. Smart Farming is an agricultural management concept that uses modern technology to increase the quantity and quality of products. In the 21st century, farmers have access to GPS, soil scanning, data management and IoT.
IoT is rapidly accelerating agricultural development and taking it to a new level. Smart Farming becomes more common, high-tech agriculture becomes a standard due to special drones and sensors.
Efficiency increasing factors
At the end of 2019, the precision farming market efficiency was estimated at $4.51 billion and is projected to reach $9.15 billion by 2025. The average annual growth rate is expected to be 12.5%. It is estimated that about 75% of the purchases of new equipment contain certain tools for precision farming.
The advantage of precision farming is that due to modern technologies the crop is not grown anymore with the experience of the agrarians and established formulas only; thanks to modern technologies (sensors, drones, satellite images, etc.) farmer can accurately determine the required amount of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, irrigation needs etc. The installed equipment makes it possible to avoid seed transfers, unproductive fertilizers usage, unnecessary fuel and equipment depreciation and, thereby, to reduce the financial pressure on the farm.
Using technology as a sustainable and scalable resource, farmers will be able to bring agriculture to a new level of productivity.
Precision farming technologies
Farmers increase the use of drones and satellites to monitor crops, make highly accurate predictions on weather and yield. One of the most useful and common examples of drones assistance is a real-time monitoring and analyzing fields and crops. Drones also allow farmers to spray infected areas of crops with protective agents in order to improve their quality and prevent the spread of diseases and pests throughout the field.
IoT – sensors in the soil
According to Business Insider Intelligence forecasts, approximately 12 million agricultural sensors will be installed in the world by 2023.
Soil sensors are used to collect information on a real-time basis. After analyzing the transferred data, plans for the fertilizing, plant protection products, irrigation, etc. are adjusted.
Using sensors in the soil and on equipment, IoT simplifies and optimizes data collection and verification as well as the overall distribution of agricultural resources.
IoT – sensors in agricultural machinery
Sensors can be also installed on tractors, combines, cars and other agricultural vehicles to monitor their condition, control movement among other useful things. Some of these sensors monitor roughness with GPS. Some make it possible to monitor the process of work directly from the cab of the unit meanwhile others control equipment service needs. The main purpose of using such devices is to reduce machine downtime. John Deere is the leader in this area.
Autonomous agricultural robots
Robots become increasingly used in various industries to minimize labour and eliminate the human factor. Agricultural robots can perform tasks from planting and watering to harvesting and sorting. This opens up opportunities for the production of better products at lower costs. For example, spraying and weeding robots can reduce the use of agrochemicals by almost 90%.
Machine learning and analytics are the most innovative for agriculture. The use of these elements provides great opportunities for collecting and processing data to predict trends. Machine learning can be used for the seed selection stage as it allows to predict what genes will be better for plants depending on location and climate, which can provide farmers with the most productive crop varieties.
World leaders in the chemical industry do not stand by
Not only farmers meet the global trend of precision farming but also governments, IT and technology companies that provide such solutions. For example, Israel Chemicals Ltd. recently acquired the Growers platform, which provides data collection and structuring services from various sources to provide farmers, agronomists and other specialists with a full range of decision-making information. The world leader in the production of plants and seeds, Syngenta, has been working for a long time on expanding its portfolio by providing not only these products but also technological solutions for agriculture. Quite recently, the company acquired the Cropio platform represented in more than 50 countries. This acquisition made Syngenta the only chemical company with access to leading agricultural platforms in four major agricultural markets (USA, Brazil, China, Europe).
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