In 1794, Eli Whitney’s cotton gin revolutionized the production of cotton. Back then, that was high tech. Since then, technology and innovation have continued to transform one of the world’s oldest professions — farming.
Basic tools like the wheelbarrow, pitchfork, and the scythe are still useful and adequate for a variety of responsibilities. However, population growth, climate change, and food security concerns have compelled the farming industry to increase their use of high-tech, innovative technology, and “outside-the-box” thinking.
Technological advancements have increased farmers’ abilities to better prepare for and handle environmental impact factors, such as precipitation, weather events, and pest populations. Sophisticated data analysis has created innovative farming techniques to increase yields and reduce waste. High tech is changing the face of farming with the illustrious goal of keeping a growing world fed.
GPS & DRONES
Climate change and the decrease in farm workers have increased the demand for high-tech innovations in the farming industry.
GPS guidance systems, soil maps, grain portal platforms, and even drones have quickly become essential tools in the modern farmer’s toolkit. Having precision agriculture systems and methods aids farmers’ abilities to control production yields, manage marketing and sales, and increase efficiencies.
For example, a trusted Ag Weather station provides farmers with more accurate temperature and precipitation forecasts. Giving farmers more up-to-date information about weather events helps them better manage their resources and minimizes loss.
Moreover, climate changes have brought about a new set of issues traditional farming methods can’t solve. High tech innovations like flying drones are helping farmers locate disease outbreaks amongst their crops, assess damage after a dangerous weather event, and survey growth.
Farmers using drones and applications like DTN’s Agronomic Insights are now able to get precise and up-to-the-minute data and analysis on their crops and production. This real-time data enables farmers to intervene quicker, saving crops, and increasing profits.
Leveraging developing innovations, like drones and autonomous farming vehicles, is not the only way high-tech is changing farming.
The farming industry is establishing partnerships with various technology companies to develop more enhanced software and algorithms. This software is designed not only to help with production and crop monitoring but also with marketing and selling their yields.
Robotics has played a significant role in various industries, and farming is no exception. The industry’s use of robots is addressing a dwindling farm worker labor workforce.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “Despite increased demand for crops and other agricultural products, employment growth is expected to be tempered as agricultural establishments continue to use technologies that increase output per farm worker.”
Moreover, agribots may be a more affordable option for small-scale farms. An aging workforce and a shortage of low-cost labor are significant challenges for small farms. Agribots help farmers overcome labor obstacles, boosting overall efficiency, and reducing total costs.
The use of Agricultural Robots, or agribots, has increased because of their accuracy and speed, resulting in higher production and decreases in the number of crops left unharvested. The use of robots to perform repetitive agriculture functions like seeding allows farmers to focus more on boosting overall production yields and marketing their products.
Precision farming, also known as precision or precision agriculture, is a farming management concept that relies on monitoring, surveying, measuring, and responding to the fluctuations in crops. As the world’s population continues to grow, the need to produce more food has resulted in traditional farming methods becoming more costly and less efficient.
Farmers are adapting to the increased demand and cost by employing more precision farming methods and techniques to boost yields, mitigate economic and security risks, and reduce waste.
For example, some farmers and seed producers have begun using technology software for plant “phenotyping.” By analyzing plants over time, users can use the data to determine how plants and crops develop under certain conditions. The data gathered allows farmers and seed producers to develop seed varieties that will flourish in specific soils and weather environments.
The use of precision ag methods aids the farmers by improving time management, reducing wasted resources, and lessening the chemical and pesticide usage. All this helps produce healthier and high-quality crops, which leads to more profits and increased reputation amongst customers.
Companies like Sunshine Mills rely on software applications like My DTN, ProphetX, and Grain Portal with tremendous real-time data, top-level marketing analysis, and seasonal charts tracking U.S. and international commodities trends.
For many industry insiders, the economics of farming comes down to four questions:
- What is it?
- Where is the product located?
- When will it be available?
- Who is selling and who is buying?
In the days of yesteryear, shaking hands and making deals on the crop field was routine. But in today’s 24/7 business world, farmers are finding that most of their customers do business online.
In the new technology-driven world, successful farming marketing doesn’t rely solely on advertising or promotions. Achieving success depends on finding people ready to buy the product.
People will buy products not strictly because of who produces it; but rather because of the company’s production methods, and standard of maintaining consistent and high levels of quality.
RFID AND TRACKING
High-Tech farming doesn’t end at harvesting. RFID sensors and tracking software are being used to help ensure the end consumers are receiving fresh and safe produce and crops.
The ability to track food and goods from their initial location to their final grocery stores provides authorities with information to trace unsafe produce and products back to their original farms or factories. Using RFID and tracking could save more lives in the event of outbreaks of food contamination, and curtail public panic.
Farming and agriculture are amongst the world’s oldest professions. Yet, the industry has fast become a high-tech business, steadily adopting new AI and innovative technology to keep up with the demand of feeding more than 7.7 billion people.
The future of technology will continue to evolve, and challenges will only get tougher. But with high tech farming, the world will be able to face challenges on a full stomach.