AgTech has the potential to revolutionise farm operations and interestingly small farm operations in particular. Four such trends to watch in 2019 are:
IoT and Sensors
The Internet of Things (IoT) is proving to be a transformational technology for many sectors, and agriculture is no exception. A myriad of remote sensing techniques, from in-field sensors to drones to satellite imagery, are allowing farmers to view their crops from multiple perspectives. With the increasing coverage of data networks like 4G, advances in computing and sensor technology, farmers can now get access to broad area coverage with field-level detail. Sensors can monitor moisture levels, soil conditions, sunlight, wind speed and all sorts of other factors whereas sensors on animals can track their health, fertility, location, and progress. The future of agriculture is the connected farm, and new light weight sensors can provide farmers with far deeper and more accurate insights into every part of their farm operation.
Machine learning and Analytics
Farmers spend thousands of crores per year on seeds and fertilizers, but currently, they’re lacking reliable information when it comes to deciding which seeds to buy, how many to plant, and which fertilizers or nutrients will produce the best outcome in different regions. That’s where artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning come in. Machine learning and advanced analytics are being used to mine data for trends in every sector, and agriculture is no exception. In addition, there is no point generating the huge amounts of data that sensors give us access to if we’re unable to make sense of it. Machine learning can predict which traits and genes will be best for crop production, giving farmers the best breed for their location and climate. At the field level, machine learning techniques that use satellite data to distinguish between crops is providing valuable information for crop insurance, logistics, and commodity markets. The intersection of robotics and data from an increasingly connected farm will accelerate this trend even further.
As the technology gets more and more powerful, it enables us to process huge amounts of data that no human being could ever make sense of, arriving at new conclusions that might otherwise have not been possible.
Drone technology is giving a high-tech makeover to agriculture sector.
Some of the ways in which drones are used throughout the crop cycle are:
* Crop spraying: Drones can scan the ground, spraying in real time for even coverage and it will result spraying to be five times faster with drones than tradition machinery.
* Planting: Drone and robotic planting systems have decreased planting costs by 85 percent. These systems allow shooting seeds and nutrients into the soil, providing all nutrients necessary for growing crops.
* Health Assessment: By scanning a crop using both visible and near-infrared light, drones can help trach changes in plants and indicate their health and alert farmers to disease and prompt action.
In nutshell drones can help optimise inputs, react faster to threats, save time for crop surveying, real time mapping, and assist in providing an estimate of yield.
While Blockchain has mainly been used in virtual currencies but the technology has far wider applications and the potential to revolutionise traceability for food. Blockchain can reduce inefficiencies and fraud, and improve food safety, farmer pay, and transaction times. In agriculture, blockchain can be used to trace a product every step of the way, from pasture to plate. As food safety and authenticity becomes more important for consumers and farmers alike, blockchain can be used to give people uncorrupted and authoritative records on exactly where their food has been and where it has come from. Blockchain technologies can prevent price extortion and delayed payments while simultaneously eliminating middleman and lowering transaction fees, leading to fairer pricing and helping smallholder farmers capture a larger part of their crop value.
It’s now time for the agriculture industry to have its turn with technology. Agriculture will no longer depend on applying water, fertilizers, and pesticides uniformly across entire fields. Instead, farmers will use the minimum quantities required and target very specific areas. Future agriculture will use sophisticated technologies such as machine learning, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images, and Drone technology. These advanced devices and precision agriculture will allow farms to be more profitable, efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly.