Today we shall be looking at new farming technology in agriculture. We have come a long way from the use of simple and archaic farming methods that were linked to low food production. Over the years, there has been a gradual increase in the demand for food that has in one way or another sparked creativity and innovation in a bid to meet these demands. Now more than ever, investors are becoming more interested in the state of affairs in this industry in a bid to profit from providing solutions to the existing problems.
We for instance are aware that various factors have led to the increase in the costs of supplies, the shortage of labor, as well as major changes amongst consumers in terms of their preference for more transparency.
In the last decade alone, this industry has grown by a significant margin. Investors, have for instance, poured in $6.7 billion into this industry, in the last 5 years alone. We have seen major strides in innovation lead the way in as far as sustainable agriculture is concerned, more so in the areas revolving around:
- Vertical farming
- Automation and robotics
- Livestock technology
- Modern greenhouses
- Precision agriculture
- Artificial Intelligence
Let’s dig deeper into some of these new farming technological advances in agriculture.
Indoor vertical farming
Indoor vertical farming is the practice of growing crops by stacking them above one another, in an environment that is not only closed but also controlled. It is one of the farming practices that is aimed at maximizing crop production in very limited land parcels. It helps with the reduction of the distance that is traveled all through the entire supply chain.
Since the growing shelves are usually mounted vertically, the horizontal landscape is reduced significantly, which is unlike the case with the traditional farming methods.
Vertical farming is mostly a city and urban agriculture concept, in which farmers are capable of running profitable vertical farms in the limited space. Vertical farms are also unique in that some setups do not need to have soil for the crops to grow. We for instance have the hydroponic setups in which the vegetables in placed in bowls that have sufficient nutrients. There are also some aeroponic settings in which the roots are usually sprayed with water and nutrients in a controlled manner. Instead of using natural light from the sun, artificial lights are used in these settings. This approach to farming has some outstanding benefits, including the following:
- It maximizes crop yields
- Reduces labor costs – the use of robots to handle planting, harvesting, planting, and logistics usually solves the labor costs problem quite well.
- Minimized water and energy consumption- these farms use 70% less water than traditional farms.
Livestock farming technology
The traditional livestock industry as we know it is quite underserviced. The resources provided by livestock are essential for our survival as human beings, on a day to day basis. Traditional livestock management has been all about the creation and running of businesses in the form of:
- Poultry farms
- Dairy farms
- Cattle ranches
- Pig farms, etc.
Livestock managers are expected to maintain very accurate financial records, as they supervise workers, and follow up on the proper feeding of the animals in the farms. Recent trends in the industry have, however, revolutionized the state of affairs in animal farms. The livestock industry is gradually turning into a data-driven sector, for which the overall management and tracking of livestock is much easier. We have seen the technological advancements come in the form of nutritional, genetics, and digital technology- all of which have helped farmers do a better job at animal rearing.
Sensor and data technologies have had such a major effect on the approach used in the provision of care to animals. Farmers can now detect the sick animals very quickly, hence increasing the chances of recovery after treatment, and consequently minimizing the chances of low productivity.
Not forgetting that we have seen the rise of better approaches to animal genomics, in which the livestock producers are in a better position to understand the genetic risks faced by the animals. This makes it easier for them to focus on seeing to it that the future profitability is not compromised, through making sound animal selection and breeding decisions.
Blockchain in agriculture
The agriculture sector has not also been left out in the use of blockchain technology. There are some issues that have effectively been solved by the use of this technology, including:
- Food fraud
- Safety recalls
- Food traceability
- Inefficiencies in the supply chain
Blockchain technology relies on a unique and decentralized structure that sees to it that all products and practices are verified, hence contributing to the much-needed transparency.
Food traceability is perhaps the biggest win in this case. Most food crops are perishable, and this characteristic, when not taken into perspective quite carefully, can lead to the lives of many human beings being put at risk.
Traceability is therefore quite essential, in the way it ensures that there is no uncertainty as far as the quality of food is concerned. Having a blockchain structure sees to it that every player in the entire food chain generates and shares data points that enhance accountability. It, therefore, becomes quite easy to obtain records of the food items’ journey, from the time they leave the farm to the time that they get to the consumers’ tables.
Digital agriculture has come with several benefits to those who have all along been interested in the use of data to improve decision making. This is why we have seen the rise of companies whose objective is to manufacture remote sensors satellites and UAVs that can collect information in farms on a 24/7 basis. With these devices, farmers can collect data on plant health, the state of the soil in the farms, as well as conditions such as temperature and humidity. A lot of data is generated by these devices, and all it takes is the use of equally efficient software programs to help with the demystification of the patterns in the data.
The good thing about using AI devices is that they can process data, adapt, and learn based on the collected data. The more the data that is collected over time, the better the device algorithms become at predicting the possible outcomes. This, on the overall, leads to farmers getting better results in the form of more produce.
The use of new technology in the field of agriculture is supporting the agenda to have more food produced to satisfy the ever-growing population. Investors and farmers are, in addition to the use of such technology, being necessitated to rely on solid research about the state of this industry for them to make strategic moves. Here is an agriculture 4 part series that will give you an insight into the type of data they are looking for in order to thrive:
That will be all for this review on new farming technology in agriculture. Are there any suggestions that you have with regards to the topic? Let me know in the comments section. Also, have a look at the recommended article for more insights on the state of the agriculture industry.
I wish you well,
Eric, Investor, and Team Member of Gold Retired!