At the current rate of world population growth, with the expected population to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation predicts as a collective planet we need to produce 70% more food in 2050.
To meet these increasing demands, agriculture has to make every use of resources available. It is not about working harder, but about working smarter. And how do we do that? With the use of technology of course. Technology has transformed farming since it first came about, from the invention of the first spade to the motorised tractor, technology has steered the way; helping us to increase crop yield, reducing the strain of physical labour and reduce waste.
In the modern age, new technology such as digital farming promises even further advancements in agriculture methods, but what exactly will the future of farming look like?
What Is Digital Farming?
The application of technology in agriculture methods to aid in cultivation and production across the whole farming process. This involves new technologies such as data science, navigation, automation and more. Digital farming provides farmers with better insights into agriculture methods, helping them to make better-informed decisions.
Some of the exciting upcoming future trends in digital agriculture:
Drone and Satellite Farming Technology
Professional UAV drones, allow for effective crop monitoring like never before. They provide a holistic view of a crop’s growth, enabling farmers to quickly and precisely identify issues which would have taken much longer to do on foot. Drone data compiled over regular farming seasons can also help to better plan and monitor improvements. The collective sharing of drone farming information over the internet allows innovation and the implementation of new methods of farming.
Spotting problems early such as crop diseases, fungus and weeds, can actually lower the use of pesticides required throughout the farming season. The less crops a disease has spread to, the less pesticides required.
Wireless IoT can be applied to large scale livestock farming to monitor location, well-being and health of cattle. This can lower labour costs and prevent cattle from becoming lost or stolen. IoT technology can also help farmers to identify if animals are sick, so they can be separated from the herd, thereby preventing the spread of disease. Future technology may also be able to help notify farmers with cows that are pregnant. A new solution on the horizon of farming technology is a device designed to notify farmers when cows water breaks, allowing them to provide immediate medical attention.
Greenhouse farming methods enables crops to be grown all year round in almost all climates. Greenhouses control the environmental parameters required to grow crops which would otherwise not be possible outdoors. Smart greenhouses with IoT technology allow for consistent monitoring of plants and the ability to remotely control temperatures and access the system while away.
Overall, IoT agricultural make it possible for farmers to collect relevant data and gain more valuable insight into farming methods. Despite some large initial overhead costs (such as drones) farms both large and small can benefit from the application of IoT technology, particularly in terms of improved monitoring of crops and livestock and increased efficiency and output. These are hugely important in order to optimise our collective food output to meet the needs of a growing society.