Developments in technology are the key to the future growth of agriculture as the farmers strive for feeding the world with the limited amount of natural resources. It is estimated that there are about 570 million farms on this planet and, according to Valoral Advisors, in the year 2014 itself the funding rounds in technological advances along the agriculture raised $570 million.
While most of the investment so raised is directed at disruptive market newcomers and ag-tech startups, in several ways the priorities still remain the same – improvement in resource use, particularly in terms of energy, land, and water, for boosting yields and efficiency. Here are some of the solutions helping the sustainable growth of agriculture and food production.
Farm management systems
Smart farming systems are likely to play a crucial role in enhancing farming activities. Cloud systems are now being used for whole crop production. Founded on the best-practice production processes of different varieties of crops, the system guides farmers towards increasing their overall production. The features of such systems include tracking and monitoring all farm activities, project oriented farm management with the fast and simple planning process, and input usage. Other features may include inventory management, weather monitoring with 7-day weather forecasts and smart pest and detection alarms for disease risk.
Precision agriculture technologies enable prescription application, navigation, location and other several data to be transmitted easily across farm machinery. These systems assist farmers in improving the efficiency of high-priced equipment. It enables you to see, for instance, a map which shows where all the vehicles are operating and levels of their fuel, the amount of crop harvest. With the help of precision technologies, precise fertilizer applications and seeding have become a reality today.
Farmer drone is one of the premier solutions that helps agriculture from up above the ground. These drones are equipped with software that captures high-resolution photos of the fields for analyzing crop health and develop precise suggestions supporting the farming decisions. In another deployment, the drones are used to seed trees and it might not be far when drones plant a field.
This new trend of smart machines would transform the way in which we cultivate crops in the near future by employing intelligently targeted inputs. Agricultural robots would ultimately engage in sort of agricultural practices, from driving tractors to disease control and from weed prevention to strawberry picking.
Globally, agriculture accounts for about 70% of the fresh water use, but around 60% of this gets wasted. Smart systems could help in mitigating this problem by warning farmers of equipment failure, leaks and allowing them to remotely regulate the water pumps. In India, farmers have already started using mobile-based remote control system for water pumps. It allows farmers in slashing water waste and travel costs by irrigating crops remotely.
Connected wearables have an influence on fisheries and livestock management, from monitoring health conditions to tracking locations. Farmers have been using them for monitoring pregnant cattle, analyzing disease symptoms and milking frequency. There are several livestock solutions, like satellite collar-based management system which lets the farmers find their animal and watch videos showing where the animal travels on the map.
A natural addition to urban agriculture, vertical farms will cultivate crops and animal life within dedicated skyscrapers in urban surroundings. With the help of techniques similar to the glass houses, vertical farms can augment natural light employing energy-efficient lighting. The rewards are numerous, together with protection from weather, year-round crop production, reduced transport costs and supporting urban food autonomy.
Variable rate swath control
Building on present geolocation technologies, the future swath control can save on minerals, seed, herbicides, and fertilizer by minimizing overlapping inputs. By understanding the productivity of different areas of the farms and pre-computing shape of the farms where inputs are to be employed, tractors or robots could procedurally apply the inputs at variable rates across the field.
Closed ecological systems
Ecosystems which do not depend on matter exchange outside of the system. Such closed ecosystems will transform the waste products into food, oxygen, and water for supporting life-forms inhabiting within the system. Such systems are already in place in small scales, but present technological restrictions prevent them from scaling up.
Future & Beyond
Technology isn’t just about enhancing how we go about doing things, in some cases, it allows us in doing things we have never thought of before. That’s definitely what we see in the work of the My Farm Info, which is offering a best-in-class value added service for preventing agriculture loss in India. My Farm Info is offering agriculture information system for assisting the farmers in maximizing their income by providing better crop yield and supporting them in getting better pay for their produce.