The agriculture industry in the US is enjoying a steady year on year growth since 2016. Current statistics show that agriculture exports in 2018 stood at $143.3 billion. That is a 10.6 percent growth since 2016. These numbers are a clear indication of the size of the agriculture industry in the US.
How the adoption of Technologies in Agriculture can Add Value
Currently, there are more than two million farms in the US. Spanning an average of 438 acres each, in size. This means that in the US, the farmland area grosses 913 million acres. The industry also employs more than 2 million people as of 2017 statistics published by the World Bank.
These recent statistics can be accredited, in part, to agricultural technologies. The agricultural technology industry (or smart farming industry) should reach $27 billion by 2020. Most farmers today are realizing the benefits of smart farming.
What is Smart Farming?
Smart farming is widely regarded as the new age of farming. It is a way of integrating technology into the practice of farming. It increases agricultural productivity by using specialized technology that can generate more yield. Additionally, the use of technology automates certain aspects of farming that speed up the process.
Smart farming integrates IoT (Internet of Things) technology to improve farming tasks and analytics. These devices are helping with minimizing wastage whilst maximizing yield and efficiency. The development of these technologies has also led to a new concept in farming. Precision farming.
Precision farming works by analyzing variables like soil quality, yield quality, moisture levels, and many others. Using IoT devices, this data collection and analysis are done in real-time. The analyzed data influences changes in agricultural practices.
How Has Technology Influenced Agriculture?
To understand precision farming and the broader, smart farming systems it’s best to study current practices. An example of precision farming is the fertilization process. Traditionally, farmers used fertilizers based on years of experience and knowledge, but not science. Because of precision farming technology, that is no longer the case.
During the fertilizing season, farmers are now able to fertilize only as much as the crop needs. By placing nitrogen sensors in front of tractors and fertilizer spreader at the back. The sensor in front analyses the nitrogen level in the crop. The management system uses that data to determine how much fertilizer to disperse from the rear-mounted spreader.
Smart farming, though, is more than just precision farming. It also includes comparatively low-tech methods that have a big impact on farming practices. For example, traditionally, farmers had to survey their fields in person. They would use horses or buggies. Some would even use a small aircraft. But that was wasteful and technology offered a better solution.
Today, farmers can access and control most farming operations. Some smart farming systems also offer remote functionality. So using basic services like Spectrum Internet, farmers are able to oversee and control their entire operation. Until recently, farmers could never enjoy such freedom of work.
By using high range drones, farmers are able to aerial survey their entire field easily and quickly. Using real-time HD feedback, they can assess the position of their crop, field boundaries, etc. In the case of a livestock farm, they can keep track of their cattle and other animals. Additionally, drones can help with security and ensuring there are no wild predators loose in the fields.
How Does Technology Add Value to Agriculture?
- Increased Production
- Cost Saving
- Higher Quality Produce
#1. Increased Production
One of the reasons why smart farming is in high demand is because it improves yield. In fact, that is one of its main purposes. Using satellite imagery, drones, and other devices and software applications, farmers can collect yield information. This information can help the farmer or automated programs decide what actions to take. Keeping crops and fields at optimum health levels can help farmers increase their yield.
Additionally, using technology like hyperspectral imaging, farmers can precisely detect diseases and pests. That, along with advanced weather analytics means that farmers can make informed decisions about their crops. And take appropriate measures in case of any extreme weather.
#2. Cost Saving
Traditional farming systems are adopting technology and turning into smart farms for cost benefits. Smart farm technologies, including precision farming, are created to reduce costs wherever possible. Additionally, using automated systems to take over farming tasks offers farmers high cost-savings.
Systems exist that have automated planting tasks. Although semi-automated systems also exist and can offer just as much cost savings. Like drone planting technology. Farmers can use semi-automated systems like drone planting to increase efficiency. In addition to being efficient, the system can reduce traditional planting costs by 85 percent.
It is well documented that technology operates and accomplishes tasks faster than humans. Traditionally, farming has been a labor-intensive process, but trends are changing. Smart farm technology, as well as precision farming, have made significant time saving possible. By automating more systems and processes, farmers can yield a better quality crop in less time and use fewer resources.
Traditionally, seeding was one of the slowest processes in farming. Smart farm technology allows farmers to automate the process. In addition to being cheaper to operate, automated seeding machinery is capable of performing the task faster. Precision seeding machines are capable of seeding at the optimum depth and distance.
#4. Higher Quality Produce
In an automated smart farming system, precision farming tools and applications work with other IoT devices. The automated farming system is capable of controlling irrigation, fertilization, seeding, and most other processes. IoT devices and software applications within the smart farm system can all work together. Under a management system, of course. But with this system, farmers can focus on increasing the quality of their yield.
The quality of crop or produce is largely dependent on a few factors. Soil quality, seeding, irrigation, fertilization, weather, and harvesting time and process. Automated smart farming systems can ensure optimum levels for all processes, including weather. Most smart farms are also setting up smart glasshouses. Together, all these systems can work and produce a higher quality yield.
Conclusion | How the Adoption of Technologies in Agriculture can Add Value
Smart technology has created value for the agriculture industry in 4 major aspects. Increasing production as well as improving the quality of the products are the most important. Farmers are now able to create more yield from their fields, without affecting quality. Additionally, smart farming offers two more benefits to farmers. Increasing efficiency and reducing costs. Both are equally important as well. Adopting technology in agriculture allows farmers and owners to plan, organize, and manage their resources better.