The idea of implementing digital technologies in agriculture was regarded as pure science fiction not very long ago. However, we’ve now come to the point where it is more than commonplace to talk about, and develop different technologies that will improve both the quality of life for farmers, as well as their yields. Here, we’ll first take a look at why these digital technologies are necessary in agriculture, and then at some examples and how it can be implemented.
Why are Digital Technologies Needed in Agriculture?
The idea of a farmer has gone a long way and undergone a lot of changes over the course of history. If you look at how they were seen in medieval times, you’ll notice that they were regarded practically as slaves to their landlords. However, things are quite different nowadays. Unfortunately, many people still can’t let go of that attitude towards farming and agriculture, even though it’s completely unfounded.
The role of a farmer is actually a crucial one. He/she runs a business that aims to provide one of the essential resources we need in our lives. There are more than seven billion people on this planet, while just a little over 600 million of them are farmers. So, on average, a farm needs to produce more than eight times the amount of food that it needs to self-sustain, in order to sustain the rest of the planet.
With regards to what their job is, it comes naturally that it needs to be enhanced to produce more food, as efficiently as possible. Human labor can only get you so far, and so it, again, comes naturally that technology would be implemented in order to increase the efficacy of farms. That’s how we got to implementing digital technology nowadays.
How are They Implemented?
The implementation of digital technologies in agriculture is a concept also known as precision agriculture. It encompasses a wide variety of technologies, inventions, ideas and applications that all serve the same purpose – to increase the quality of life for farmers, and the yields per acre from their farms. Here we only list a few that embody the purpose of the whole system well.
Basic Technological Needs
Of course, in order to talk about implementing any sort of digital technology, you will need an Internet connection and a computer. This isn’t strictly connected to agricultural technology, and technically speaking isn’t an absolute necessity, but it makes it much easier to implement future technologies once they come out, as well as use already existing ones more efficiently. If you’re worried about your online security, you can check our take on how a VPN may secure your farming data.
This is pretty obvious. You don’t want to walk tens of kilometers every day just to check up on the overall state of your farm. By using real-time satellite imagery, you can do all that from the small screen in your home, without ever leaving it. You’ll see if there’s any imminent issue you need to solve, as well as gather information about your farm over a longer period of time that will then have a lot of statistical value and help you in decision making for the future of your farm.
Once you’ve set up information gathering from the sky, you should also deal with the soil as well. Practically creating a grid of soil sensors across the land will give you a very accurate image with a huge amount of useful data regarding your soil composition and health.
This is the process of taking a lot of information about several parameters and combining them into a single picture. For example, a basic picture of a farm would only show you what the eye can see. However, add to every pixel the information about what the soil pH is, how much fertilizer it has, what stage the plant in that spot is, how hydrated the soil is, and so on, and you get a much more valuable image. By combining the information gathered from all the previous technologies (and a lot more), this one outputs it all neatly together in a comprehensive and useful database.
After you’ve taken all the data together via advanced imaging, it would make sense to actually do something with it, right? Well, that’s where AI comes into play. You can now implement artificial intelligence algorithms specifically designed and trained for maximising the efficiency and minimising the environmental footprint of your farm with your other digital technologies.
The more of them you have, the more valuable an AI would be, as it will be able to give you more statistically correct information. You can then use that information in order to develop plans for the future of the farm, or you can even let the AI do that for you. The possibilities are endless, but this only goes to show just how useful digital technologies can be in agriculture.