We often go on about drones and how they’re at the forefront of the agriculture industry, pushing us forward at a fast rate. Yet there are plenty of different factors changing and transforming the agriculture industry as we know it. From science to the workforce, the industry is ever changing and hardly anyone has stopped to notice. Well, apart from us. Here’s 5 ways the agriculture industry is charging forward at full speed. Read and take a moment to appreciate the hard work and wisdom behind these driving factors.
Data Data Data
We are starting to collect more and more data, even if we don’t know it. Take a look at your phone, for example. You might not have realised, but your phone is most likely counting how many steps you take in a day, working out what apps you use and when, plus much more data you are probably unaware of. It’s the same with agriculture. Every day we record the weather, temperature and climate of almost every square mile of earth. A simple tractor can easily measure how long your fields with GPS. The list of data that is being collected goes on and on.
Why does this matter? With the right tech and the right mind, you can look at this data to make huge improvements on your farm. We’re talking precision agriculture at an extreme. Take care of your crops on a plant by plant basis and irrigate exactly how much is needed without wasting an unnecessary drop.
The more data we collect, the more efficient we can become. Join farmers networks and start monitoring your own farm. If we all collate our data together who knows what positive changes we can make to improve the agriculture industry for good: if you can’t figure out how to work with your own data, there’s sure to be someone out there that can!
Rise of the AIs
Artificial intelligence is nothing to be scared about; don’t worry about the horror/sci-fi films you might have seen. AI could be the solution to many farming problems you’ve faced over the years. Think of AI more like Jarvis, Iron Man’s integrated home tech system.
To work out how much seed you need or fertiliser, for example, you’ll need to take many things into account, from the size of your fields to the germination rate to your budget. That’s at least an afternoons work, compiling all the data from previous years and crawling through the market to find the best for your farm. An AI could come up with the best option in a heartbeat.
Of course, you’re going to need 2 things for AI to successfully work on your farm: first, you’ll need the masses of data we mentioned above. In some countries, this just isn’t available. Secondly, you’re going to need AI that’s reliable and easy to use. Scientists and universities may have developed an AI to do some complex equations for them, but would you have any idea how to get AI to work for your farm? There’s still a way to go with making AI accessible to the masses.
Yes, we mean driverless tractors among other autonomous tech tools. These are no longer distant dreams of the future; we’re starting to see prototype driverless tractors, cars, ploughs and more at agriculture tech conventions across the world.
Admittedly they’re probably not going to be accessible to the everyday farmer for quite a few years once they do come to the market, but still this is a very exciting, optimistic topic. Just think about the motor tractors we have now. A hundred or so years ago we were all using horses and cattle to pull ploughs, or even tending to the fields ourselves. But now we’ve all got big machines to do that work for us. How is the change to autonomous machinery going to be any different?
With a driverless tractor, suddenly farmers can multitask. We can be flying a drone to check on the temperature of your back fields to see if it’s warm enough for sowing while your driverless tractor is busy tilling the near field or harvesting ready crops.
Economies are starting to pull together to help one another. For example, just look at how much food is imported. Go back 100 years or so and many food items would be unheard of unless they were grown in your area. Demand has soared and continues to soar with an ever-growing population.
Golden rice is just one examples of how technology and agriculture in different economies across the world are helping the many. By genetically engineering golden rice that has a much higher nutritional value, not only are you helping to diminish starvation and nutritional deficiency, but you’re also providing work and stability for a farmer and his family.
There are other ways economies are helping each other on both small and large scales. For example, you’ve massively over estimated how much seed you’ll need for this season to grow crops on all your fields. There are apps and farming networks available linking you to a farmer in another country who’s in desperate need of the excess seed you have. Farmers pulling together to reduce waste while increasing yields and profits is going to really drive forward precision agriculture in a productive, efficient way.
It’s always been the trend throughout history that when war takes hold of a country, the men leave to fight and the women hold up the country while they’re away. Just take a look at the effect WWII had on the UK – thousands of women up and down the country took on roles in manufacture, agriculture and more when the men left to fight. Of course, since then it’s fair to say that agriculture has once again become a male dominated industry, however lately we’re starting to see the genders balance out.
Women make up 30% of farm workers in managerial positions in the USA, according to the US Department of Agriculture. From driving the tractors to tending to livestock or running the spreadsheets and sorting out the expenses, women are taking on bigger roles in agriculture.
For years the tech and science industries have been attempting to attract more women to take them up, and perhaps finally we are seeing the results.
In developing nations, it’s been observed that the percentage of women in agriculture is even higher – while this is certainly something to celebrate, we’d also like to take a minute to think about why this is. Are they genuinely taking an interest in agriculture or are they left with little choice? Although farming is a tough job, many of us live a life of luxury on our westernised farms. As tech evolves and the future nears, let’s not forget that we need to do more to help feed the world and encourage improvement rather than just develop tools and techniques for our own benefit.
The nature of agriculture is slowly changing after centuries of maintaining traditional methods that have been used since the early days. Let’s move forward with an open mind and use technology, the workforce and the economy to solve the large issues we face as a species together.