Technological advancements have infiltrated just about every industry across the globe and agriculture – although a bit of a late bloomer – is no exception. These days, tech is helping farmers and growers in a number of critical ways, including data-driven decision making, more accurate forecasting and much more. These changes are making a significant impact on their bottom line and ultimately improving how consumers access the food products they want at an affordable price. Let’s take a look at a few specific ways technology is revolutionizing agriculture.
The Internet provides farmers unprecedented access to a wealth of valuable tools and resources to make their lives easier. For instance, there are countless production and planning tools and calculators to help forecast and map out future crops.
There are also a growing number of farming forums where members can exchange ideas, ask for advice, participate in discussions and answer questions from other farmers or growers around the world. It’s like having access to a massive support group without having to step foot off the farm.
Back in the day, tractors took the place of horse-drawn equipment, dramatically improving the farming experience. Now, GPS technology is making a similar impact, using satellites to pinpoint locations and essentially remove the guesswork out of everything from mapping land to positioning irrigators to guiding machinery and more.
Tractors equipped with an innovative combination of GPS technology and automatic steering systems can operate with mind-blowing precision. GPS data can be used to optimize the placement of seeds, reducing waste and cutting costs. GPS guided drones are also being used to more efficiently perform tasks like livestock monitoring, crop spraying and 3D mapping.
Another advanced technology that farmers are now leveraging is sensors. These can help monitor everything from temperature and soil water content to the humidity levels in grain silos. They can even provide valuable information about crop health.
These days, everyone is concerned about limiting waste and preserving precious resources. Sensor technology enables farmers to manage their irrigation much more precisely, preventing waste, reducing water usage and also lowering costs in the process.
An increasing number of farmers are turning to mobile technology in the field to save them time and help them stay connected. In fact, according to a recent Farm Journal Media survey, 59% of farmers use smartphones and 44% use tablet computers. Believe it or not, that’s actually slightly ahead of the national average. Smartphones and tablets can be used to do just about anything online that a grower would normally need to head back to the office to do.
One of the biggest benefits mobile tech offers for farmers is the growing number of apps that are being developed specifically with their needs in mind. These apps can be used to do everything from checking up-to-the-minute weather and field-level information to buying and selling farm equipment and more.
Taking all of the above technologies and combining them together creates smart farming systems, also sometimes referred to as precision agriculture. In simplest of terms, smart farming uses Internet-connected tools to capture and leverage data for decision-making purposes.
Take, for example, irrigation. A sensor may be mounted on an irrigator to measure the moisture level of the soil in front of its wetting path. This information can then be used to instantly vary the rate of irrigation. Likewise, drones fitted with GPS and sensor technology can be used to assess plant health so that farmers can respond quickly to salvage crops and minimize damages.
Without question, technology is fundamentally changing the way we live and work. The agricultural industry is making great strides in tech adoption and the benefits continue to impress.