The agricultural industry continues to grow by using the latest technologies to change the future of farming so it can meet the needs of the world’s booming population. Gone are the days of the horse and plow. Now farmers can monitor their crops and livestock using wireless sensors, till the garden with robots or send a drone to check on crops.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), food production around the world will need to increase by 70 percent to feed the population by the year 2050. New technology is helping farmers produce higher-quality crops and livestock with wireless devices and automation.
It is imperative that this new agriculture technology, known as precision agriculture or smart farming, will make the industry more efficient and sustainable for generations to come.
How Agriculture Technology Is Changing the Industry
Technology has changed the agriculture industry in a variety of ways, and one of the biggest is through automating various procedures and processes.
Automation saves farmers both time and money just like the invention of mechanical reapers did in the 19th century. A farmer can feed and water livestock using automated processes while some larger machines with arms pluck produce from the vine in an orchard. Farmers can sift grain using advanced grain separators with vibrating screens and sieves to separate, classify, de-dust and dewater crops.
Although this saves farmers from hiring outside labor workers, a number of farmers worry about labor shortages due to an aging population, younger generations uninterested in farming and increasing wages.
In the past, using automated agriculture robots was a challenge due to various factors such as certain crops requiring hand-picking, tumultuous weather in the fields and muddy ground. New technology, however, is making agriculture an innovative field for companies and start-ups seeking venture capital to disrupt the industry. Precision agriculture means access to real time information regarding a farm’s processes, soil mapping and yield — and this information will play a role in how farms are managed.
The Future of Farming
Technology continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and so will how it affects farming:
- Genetically-modified organisms: The agriculture industry changed with the implementation of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). Farmers could grow crops with a resistance to viruses and pesticides as well as increase or otherwise alter a food’s nutritional content by changing the genes within the food with biotechnology.
- Robotic technology: The new wave of robotic technology promises to help farms produce higher yields while decreasing the resources necessary to grow crops and livestock. The implementation of robotic technology means a younger generation may also come on board as farmers. Crop farmers can automate robots to spray pesticide, pick produce, plant seeds or take measurements and pictures using sensors and GPS-enabled navigation systems.
- Drones: Drones are making an entrance in agriculture technology. These small flying aircraft will be able to transmit images back to the farmer regarding large fields, find missing livestock and deploy fertilizer or pesticides when needed.
- Wireless sensors: It’s not only robots and drones paving the way for smart farming. Farmers will be able to monitor their crops, whether on a small farm or large commercial field, with wireless sensors. Simply by using their handheld device, farmers can check the humidity, temperature, nutrients in the soil, density of weeds and the crop’s stage of growth.
- Wearable technology: Wearable technology allows farmers to find out information on the spot. Farmers can touch their produce, for example, and find out the details about that particular crop as well as take images and create videos.
- The Internet of Things: The combination of The Internet of Things and agriculture to produce smart farming is taking the industry into the future and making agriculture an exciting field. This, along with other technological advancements like robotics, means younger generations may want to invest their time and money into the industry. These innovations enhance the current technology trends while making agriculture a precise endeavor.
No matter what, technology and farming go hand in hand. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for technology and the farming industry.