The global population is constantly and rapidly rising. With our world also facing the climate crisis, destroying crops and livelihoods, all at the same time, one’s ability to feed themselves has become undermined and threatened.
One of the few ways of perhaps slowly but surely solving this collapse is to return to the core of the food supply, and that is agriculture. With the unpredictable changes our environment is facing, however, with traditional, unsustainable agricultural practices as one of the causes, turning to technology is possibly the only way to sustain food demand without further harming the environment.
According to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, modern farming and agriculture have greatly benefited from advancements in agriculture technology, with their operations becoming more profitable, efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly. Here are a few ways technology has made a difference in the agriculture industry:
Vertical farming puts a twist on the traditional, horizontal type of agriculture we have familiarized ourselves with. Vertical farming involves farming on vertically stacked layers, which in turn allows farmers to produce much more food on the same or even less amount of land usually required.
Vertical farming is part of an umbrella term known as Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), which is the concept of cultivating plants in a fully regulated environment. The practice of vertical farming enables crops to be grown and maintained in spaces that are typically unfit for farming, like skyscrapers, warehouses, or shipping containers, with the help of artificial temperature, light, water, and humidity control.
With vertical farming, growers are given the ability to increase production while optimally utilizing the resources many need. Most importantly, minimal negative environmental impact will occur.
Agriculture automation binds computer systems, chemical sensors, agricultural machinery, and data management all together in an effort to optimize day-to-day operations and decision-making for farmers.
Agricultural automation can help farmers navigate through everyday challenges that they have to face and still adapt to their practices’ impact on the environment and their pockets. By relying on automated technologies to help farmers analyze data on what they need to spend on and when, farmers can optimally reduce cost, improve efficiency, and address labor shortages.
The applications of agricultural automation and the forms of support automation can provide are vast. From semi-automated technology like assisted steering on a tractor or a ripper machine to fully automated systems, automated farming is aimed to turn modern farming into a more profitable yet sustainable one. Recently, agricultural machinery company John Deere revealed its fully autonomous tractor that farmers can control with their phones.
With farmers now having to make sure that they are able to avoid unsustainable agriculture practices, their heavy workload gets even rougher. Overseeing all their operations, from analyzing farm activities to maintaining expenses, can be done with ease using farm management software, one of the forms that automated agriculture can manifest in and has multiplied over the years.
According to Statista, the global farm management software and services market was valued at $1B in 2020 and is expected to grow to over $5B by 2026. Most of these types of software that exist nowadays, such as Agrivi, are designed to help farmers not only manage field activities but also their finances, their inventory, their workforce, as well as overall farming performance with just one platform.
Farm management software enables farmers to protect their crops timely, whenever necessary, and more easily. With agricultural knowledge bases and analytics embedded in these types of software, farmers can learn the best time to tillage, plant, fertilize, harvest, and more. This way, farmers are empowered to maintain their farms optimally with ease.
There is no doubt that the abundant amount of farming activities that have to be performed by humans are laborious, especially with the constant rise of the global food demand that requires more results from farming faster. This taxing responsibility is one of the driving forces of agricultural robots and drones.
By utilizing machines, farmers can receive higher yields and save an enormous amount of much-needed resources, all while reducing human labor time and energy. The adoption of agriculture robotics has also been done to reduce the negative impacts of farming on the environment, as farming activities usually require a substantial amount of chemicals that can also harm humans, animals, and the crops themselves.
This is what Aigen, an agriculture technology company, has managed to achieve with their weeds and pests-removing robots. The AIgen Element robots can optimally remove weeds and pests while excluding any use of pesticides.
As for drones, an increasing number of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles have become useful in crop and livestock management. Many of these drones are designed to monitor plant growth, detect plant disease stress, and monitor field temperatures. In some cases, drones can also spray fertilizers when needed or chemicals for necessary treatment measures. In Chile, AI-powered drones are used to help farmers harvest fruits such as peaches, pears, plums, and more.
Irrigation is a crucial aspect of farming and agriculture, but the traditional methods of irrigating farms and fields are wasteful. Gallons and gallons of limited water are not only misspent but can actually negatively impact crop growth.
Unnecessary amounts of water can overwater plants, stunting their growth, and also contaminate freshwater sources if excess fertilizers get out of bounds. From micro-drip technology to smart spraying systems, agriculture technology enables farmers to utilize water optimally and achieve maximum yield while removing any chance of harming others around.
Ecorobotix is among the few agriculture technology companies that have developed smart sprayers that can not only completely remove the use of harmful chemicals but spray with high precision, taking out any risk of water being spent where it shouldn’t be.
Technology is an ever-evolving industry, with new inventions being made every day and applications being improved at every corner. The merge of advanced and versatile technology with the indispensable industry of agriculture is hoped to create a smarter, safer, and more productive as well as sustainable farming, for the betterment of all.
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