With the human population exploding and setting new records each year, the current generations are having to shoulder the responsibility of using available resources sparingly and wiring in cost-effective, sustainable farming practices to address the growing demands of the world.
According to predictions by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, we need to boost agriculture production by 70% worldwide over the coming decades to meet the population demand that would arise in 2050.
Precision agriculture and smart farming involves the integration of modern technologies (like the Internet of Things and Machine Learning) into agriculture practices. It upgrades traditional agricultural practices to accelerate processes, increase efficiency, production and quality of produce.
The driving power of smart farming is IoT - connecting AI-enabled machines and sensors on farms to make farming methods data-driven and data-enabled.
Technological advancements are now shaping every aspect of farming. From producing to harvesting, every area of crop production and management is getting far more scalable and cost-effective. Here are some technologies that are truly making a difference-
Farming is a labour-intensive task that requires lots of time and effort. Usually, these tasks are repetitive and monotonous. Farmers can delegate these labour-intensive tasks to robotics and automation-based solutions. Such solutions have the capability to perform tasks that range from seeding and watering to harvesting and sorting. Eventually, this technology integration would result in higher productivity with minimal resource wastage.
Robotic Machinery also helps in supporting farm machinery. It is useful for sowing, harvesting and other services and helps in avoiding human errors. Farms can utilize robotic systems for pesticide spraying, harvesting, cultivating and other such activities.
With driverless tractors and new IoT enabled machines rising, tasks like seeding and planting are becoming more flexible and effortless. Initially, it was a manual process, requiring a significant amount of effort to be put in by farmers or farmhands. But with the help of machine learning and IoT sensors/devices - farmers can now resolve problems like sowing the seeds in-depth and spacing it at an appropriate distance for better plant growth, etc.
Farmers can also combine mapping and sensor data detailing to analyze soil texture, quality, density, moisture and nutrient levels to better conduct the seeding process. It will maximize the growth of the seeding process and increase the chances of the harvest of the crop overall.
Farmers can use irrigation for crops when farms have inadequate rainfall or for maintaining landscapes. They can balance the right amount of water and moisture content in the soil with the help of automatic irrigation. Various methods through which irrigation systems can be installed are -
Enabling the use of these methods with IoT devices and sensors could help in soil sustainability as well.
Crop analysis and weed management are essential for crops. A great harvest depends on a good yield of crops. Thereby, farmers must install devices that don’t require any intervention to remove weeds as well as help in other tasks so that the growth of the crops are unaffected. With the help of sensors and machines, farmers can monitor and analyze field conditions without even going to the field and make strategic decisions for the whole farm or a single plant.
One among the most useful tasks that drones could handle in farming, is the remote monitoring and analysis of fields. Drones can travel at a certain altitude and visually check the crop's condition. It helps in saving time and labour that would normally be involved in manual checking.
Also, drones monitoring the farms can collect data related to farms that help in the analysis of crops and fields. One can also embed multiple sensors in the drones to collect the different conditions of the farms. These will help in generating data and guiding maps that can help in guiding agribots and other machines to ensure proper maintenance of the farms.
Also using data analytics and data management, farm owners can create reports with insights into patterns on crop health, soil, climate, fields etc. Such data derived from different farms could go to help scientists study and improve farming practices.
We have just touched the tip of the iceberg. The use of technologies could largely impact other types of farming like animal husbandry(livestock farming), greenhouse setups, horticulture and many more. It is only a matter of time before farmers across the country embrace modern technology and increase their productivity and revenue for good.