Smart farming: New face of agriculture
A growing demand for food is bringing about changes in agriculture, which will mainly be evidenced in precision farming.
Precision agriculture, or precision farming, is a new approach relying on digital innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), drones, intelligent sensors, mobile applications, and satellite technologies. These technologies, analyzing real-time data about soils, livestock, and weather, support farmers in taking the best decisions regarding their crops. This will mean billions of savings and possible yield productivity increases of 70% by 2050. The market for connected agricultural products and services could add USD 500 billion to global GDP by 2030.
Smart agriculture solutions could help save money and improve crop yields through various tools.
Agriculture may be one of the largest potential markets for commercial drone usage given the vast amount of land needing for mapping, monitoring, and spraying.
Drones combined with advanced AI algorithms could become an efficient technique for aerial crop and cattle surveillance, precision irrigation, planting, and spraying as well as identifying diseases. Drones also collect data via images or video, which are then stored in the cloud to create predictive models and guide farmers’ decisions. Data is becoming the most critical element in increasing economic value on farms: It empowers farmers to make more profitable and sustainable decisions.
The use of autonomous vehicles drives higher efficiency by freeing up time and requiring less human labor. Moreover, autonomous machinery lowers fuel consumption (due to more precise routing than human-operated tractors) and can be used for harvesting, planting, spraying, and other tasks relying on sensors, GPS and radars combined with machine learning algorithms.
It can be adapted to monitor plant development (planting, fertilizing, harvesting) or support weather-related changes in the environment (debris, drought, dust, mud).
Smart irrigation systems
Precision irrigation denotes sensors applying the exact amount of water required by plants. This allows for improved yields, while simultaneously reducing water and electricity consumption.
The United Nations estimates that urbanization will cause a yearly loss of 1.6–3.3 million hectares of agricultural land in the 2020–30 period. Vertical farming – an indoor approach consisting of controlling all environmental factors such as light, humidity and temperature, with the aim of producing more food by harvesting crops vertically – can help solving land scarcity. We estimate vertical farming could meet 80% of food demand in urban areas.
Various high-tech cultivation methods of replacing soils (such as aeroponics, hydroponics, aquaponics) can help in developing sustainable agriculture.
We expect that these smart farming solutions will be supported by greater use of blockchain (for monitoring supply chain and food safety) and wireless technology (for consulting and interpreting data about crops, soils or weather).
Smart agriculture is crucial for sustainable food system and therefore should be implemented as soon as possible. This means big changes and big investment opportunities in the field of agriculture in the coming years.