According to forecasts, by 2050, the Earth will be inhabited by more than 9 billion people. In this regard, farmers need to increase the number of agricultural products they can produce. However, this task can be quite challenging as the amount of harvest depends on many factors.
Growers are constantly faced with several challenges related to climatic conditions, crop prices, and environmental factors. Therefore, agriculturalists are continually looking for solutions to improve livestock and crop production to increase productivity in more sustainable ways.
Farmers increasingly rely on technological solutions to increase their yields, such as field monitoring. For example, EOS offers Crop Monitoring based on satellite imagery. This solution helps farmers to manage multiple fields, reduce costs and make better decisions for their crops.
Modern technological solutions also offer various sensors to identify areas in need of watering or chemical treatment. Satellite images help assess the germination and ripening of crops and identify diseases at an early stage.
Due to drones, we can observe the development of crops at different stages and receive information about the growing conditions in the field thanks to maps. The applications provide the ability to track and manage livestock.
However, technology has other benefits as well. For example, you can significantly reduce the manual labor required to inspect crops and soil in the field by implementing innovative solutions. You can also save yourself the hassle of manually adjusting inputs during planting or fertilization.
Big data in agriculture empowers farmers to benefit from insights from technology and analytics. It can be used both for the industry as a whole and for individual regions or segments to improve efficiency. Big data is vital for the development of the agricultural sector.
It’s connected with a global increase in demand, a shortage of farm products, and an unstable environment state. Therefore, the focus is on solutions that help farmers make better and more informed agricultural decisions, including the Internet of Things, Big Data analytics, and cloud computing.
Big Tech Moves into Farming
The most prominent companies in the world market, such as Microsoft and Amazon, are gradually entering the food sector. It leads to integration between companies supplying pesticides, tractors, drones, and other products needed for farming, with companies controlling the flow of data with access to food consumers. Agribusiness is pushing farmers to use smartphone apps as they can provide them with different recommendations.
In practice, this means that large corporations that create electronic platforms thus buy their way into the agricultural industry and gain control over food distribution. Together, they advocate the use of chemicals, expensive equipment, and the production of goods for corporate customers rather than local markets. They encourage centralization, concentration, and uniformity and tend to abuse their power and monopolization.
In Japan, a few years ago, tech company Fujitsu built a vertical farm on a parcel of land outside of Hanoi. The appearance of this farm is both impressive and daunting. A high-tech greenhouse controlled by central computers in Japan connected to the cloud is producing lettuce. It is certainly not the most demanded product, while many resources are spent on its production.
In Silicon Valley, investments in vertical farming are also still relevant. However, even with the massive inflow of funds to develop this industry, which amounted to $1.8 billion since 2014, high-tech farms did not solve global problems. The farms already built are the equivalent of just 30 hectares of traditional farms around the world.
Hanoi also has a farm that looks more like a traditional farm, but there is one significant difference in terms of the use of technology. All workers on this farm have smartphones. All work and staff movements are recorded via a mobile device and stored in the cloud at the Fujitsu farm.
Microsoft also did not stand aside from the technological development of agriculture. The company is developing Azure FarmBeats, powered by Azure’s global cloud technology.4. It is a digital farming platform with the primary purpose of providing information on crops, soil, water, pests, diseases, and weather conditions.
This platform will combine data from rural and remote areas, using a free frequency spectrum to expand Wi-Fi capabilities. It also collects big data from farms, including soil moisture, pH, temperature, air humidity, drones, IoT sensors, tractors, smart cameras.
The information is compressed, making it suitable for uploading to the cloud. Sensor data is combined with data from drones and cameras, which simplifies the construction of algorithms.
However, many suppliers of agricultural products have an advantage over innovative technological solutions. All major agribusiness companies which sell seeds, chemicals, and fertilizers for farms have their apps. Many growers install these apps to get product discounts and recommendations.
Such a colossal player as Bayer says that its app is already used on farms of over 24 million hectares. These farms are located in the US, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and European countries.
New Report by AgriFutures Australia
A new report from AgriFutures Australia says agriculture is emerging as the next frontier for space technology. The report provides information on the depth and breadth of space technologies available to manufacturers. It also includes information on potential uses and technology developments over the next decade.
Improving geolocation technology alone could bring Australia about $2.2 billion in revenue over 30 years. Agriculture in Australia could also benefit from satellite communications for $15.6 billion. Technologies already helping include satellite imagery and GPS tracking, paddock level imagery, automatic controls, and weather forecasts.
Traditionally, space technology has been involved in the mining and defense sectors. However, opportunities for agriculture are also opening up now. In the future, space technologies will be incorporated into day-to-day farming systems. They will also be fully integrated into the decision-making process, significantly transformed by interoperable data systems.
Remote sensing, connectivity, and geolocation are the three main components that can solve problems in rural industries. Tech companies and the agricultural sector must work together to help each other and understand how to harness the power of space technology.