Agriculture Technology Examples – Top 5 Innovations

Inez Bartosińska

Agriculture in the world is facing numerous challenges, including climate change, increasing demand for food and biomass, growing natural increase, or a labor shortage. Due to these hurdles, as well as technological development, today’s farms operate in a completely different way than those from a few decades ago. Large investments in innovation that have taken place in recent years have resulted in the development of indoor vertical farming, livestock technology, greenhouse practices, automation and robotics, and more. Also, other tech-based solutions such as AI, IoT, and blockchain found their use in improving the farming industry. Which of these agricultural innovations are top-class choices? What is the future of precision farming? Keep reading to find out.

What is meant by agricultural technology?

The scale of demand for agricultural products and resources has grown so much that it has become impossible to meet these requirements with manpower only. As a result, agricultural technologies appeared on the market to streamline and automate farming activities, and by those technologies, we mean every tech-based solution that helps farmers to manage fields, treat crops, and monitor them. To put it simply, agricultural innovations are digitalized methods that support the growth control and harvesting of vegetable and animal products. 

An example of agricultural technology is satellite imaging that allows farmers to track the conditions of their crops without visiting a certain location or precision agriculture that provides more accurate methods necessary for seeding and growing crops. Also, advanced AI and devices supported by it can provide more specific data and automate monitoring completely. There are many use cases for today’s wide range of farming innovations – let’s see how they help. 

How does technology help in agriculture?

Over the recent years, we couldn’t help but notice that agricultural technology has greatly improved farming productivity. Almost any process could have been automated. This means that farmers don’t have to struggle with the tiring daily tasks that were demanding physically and took up a lot of time. With the increasing demand for products, so did the need to employ more human labor. Meanwhile, one of the main problems faced by the agricultural sector was the shortage of workers. Farm automation or so-called ‘smart farming’ and solutions related to it came with a rescue. Many farmers who wanted, or needed, to take action to develop their business have invested in robotics such as autonomous tractors, robotic harvesters, automatic watering, and seeding. This resulted not only in filling the gap for the missing employees but also in significant increases in results and cost reduction. 

Moreover, farmers have to reckon with some natural challenges such as unpredictable weather conditions and climate change. Thus, relying solely on traditional farms to produce as much food and products as the world demands would be difficult. Fortunately, thanks to agricultural technology, production can be moved indoors. Greenhouses, hoop houses, vertical and container farms, even though they may not be new to the agricultural market, they have never had such an impact as they do nowadays. It is estimated that globally in the area of 50 billion square feet of indoor farms, almost $ 350 billion is produced of vegetables every year.

Finally, often overlooked but certainly not less important, livestock farming also benefited from agricultural technologies. It is a vital branch of the farming industry that provides renewable and natural resources of daily needs. For example, special sensors capable of monitoring animal’s health enabled farmers to care for and manage the livestock more efficiently.

What are the new technologies used in agriculture?

Drones and satellite imaging – advanced technologies have changed the way remote satellite imaging works. Farmers all over the world can benefit from real-time crop monitoring. Good quality pictures and videos delivered by satellites and drones allow farmers to examine crops as precisely as if they were standing on a field. Reviewing those records on a regular basis can save farms a lot of time and money. Moreover, you can combine this solution with soil and water sensors to send an alert whenever any adverse conditions appear. 

Precision farming – is a new trend in an agricultural industry that provides farmers with pertinent information and methods necessary for seeding, growing, and harvesting crops. This technology is mostly about increasing efficiency; however, it could also result in better management of expenses. Innovations developed for precision agriculture by agriculture companies allow farmers to measure crop variables such as moisture content, soil condition, or pest stress. The global precision agriculture market is expected to reach USD 43.4 billion by 2025.

Farm Automation – robotic innovations such as drones, autonomous tractors, computer vision, or automatic seeding and watering devices have the potential to enhance the efficiency of any agricultural company. Such solutions save a lot of time and resolve a labor shortage problem as machines come into play. They can do more work in a shorter period, and human support is usually required only to set up the device’s settings.

Soil and Water Sensors – compared with other technological advances, this solution is relatively simple and economical. However, it can also provide the most immediate effect of all. Sensors allow examining the soil’s moisture and nitrogen level. Thus, farmers know which parts of their crops need watering or fertilizing. As a result, available resources are used only when there is a real necessity, so you get to manage them more efficiently and be more eco-friendly.

Weather Tracking – It is common for farms to experience some damage due to inadequate or insufficient weather estimations. If farmers relied only on TV weather forecasts, the situation would be even worse. Luckily, technological advancements such as online services dedicated exclusively to agriculture come with a rescue. Farmers can access them from their mobiles and take appropriate precautions in time to minimize the losses.

Technology of Mini-chromosomes –  two major issues put today’s agriculture in jeopardy. We are talking about growing natural increase (and, in effect, growing demand for more food) and the necessity to maintain sustainable farm management. The technology of mini-chromosomes addresses them both. Mini-chromosome is a tiny structure containing a cell that can add dozens of traits to a plant without altering its original chromosomes. This could result, for example, in drought tolerance and nitrogen use. 

Artificial Intelligence – advanced technology such as remote sensing, satellites, or UAVs allow farmers to gather information about crops, soil, and weather conditions. These digital tools can monitor plant health, humidity, soil pH level, and more. Sensors collect as much data as possible and create algorithms that can later be adapted to machine learning techniques. 

Blockchain – not every challenge in the agricultural industry has to happen directly on a field. Food fraud, safety measurements, supply chain efficiency, and compliance with policies are some of the obstacles to overcome if you point to driving a successful farming business. Blockchain is capable of improving food traceability. It can provide you with the data on product location and threats appearing on the way. Furthermore, blockchain technology enables establishing a digital ledger that adds value to the current market and allows farmers to improve their trading.

5 examples of appropriate technology in agriculture

Appropriate technology is a technology that answers the needs of small-scale activities. It is an approach that focuses on local people and fits challenges identified by them. Provided solutions should address those issues with regard to the needs of poor farmers and limited natural resources. To put it simply, appropriate technology is an approach based on scalable and sustainable solutions that improve smallholder farmers’ livelihood and protect the environment. Let’s dive into some examples of such solutions. 

  1. Agro-ecological Technology 

Agro-ecological technology is instrumental in third-world countries.  Such an approach allowed farmers to integrate natural resources to contribute to the agricultural industry, e.g., farmers used organic residue as a soil fertilizer. Methods based on agroecological technology allow farmers to benefit from these innovations in producing large amounts of food. Water harvesting, soil improvement, or elimination of pesticide residue may not be as impressive as some more advanced technologies; however, these are the changes that make the best possible use of available resources.

  1. Research-based Technologies 

When it comes to research-based technologies, the first example that comes to mind is Green Revolution. It is the set of research technology transfer initiatives that over the years have increased agricultural productivity worldwide. Green Revolution resulted in the adoption of new technologies and modern scientific approaches to farming. Also, the revolution played a crucial role in our world’s sustainability as it saved millions of acres of forests.

  1. Food Processing and Storage

Another example of appropriate technology is about food preservation and post-harvest processing. Many farmers lack the possibility of storing their products and need to sell them immediately after harvesting. A huge setback here is that prices are the lowest at that moment, so there is no chance for any major income. Luckily, there were several solutions, such as, for example, safe irradiation practices, developed to enhance the product longevity and nutrition.

  1. Alternative Energy Sources

Electricity is still a major issue in mary poor and rural areas. Alternative energies are an excellent example of appropriate solutions to this issue. Harnessing renewable energy sources like wind or solar can be an effective and sustainable way to improve poor farmers’ productivity and help to protect the environment. 

  1. Information and Communication Technologies

ICT (Information and Communication Technology) is another technology that could improve the livelihood of poor farmers. For example, in villages of Bangladesh, people invest in cell phones to then rent ‘phone time’ to their neighbors, who in return get higher prices for their crops with the possibility to provide real-time market information. In India, farmers use the internet to monitor weather forecasts or communicate directly with their customers. 

Which country is advanced in agriculture technology?

Agriculture is one of the most important industries in the world, advancing mainly in developing countries. It provides all the necessary supplies, food and is also one of the main sources of employment. Moreover, technological innovations significantly improve farming businesses all over the world. Thus, many countries are competing for first place in farming innovations, including New Zealand, the Netherlands, China, Japan, the USA or Brazil. 

The American farming market is one of the pioneers in the implementation of advanced technologies in agriculture. Its cultivation industry has experienced a colossal transformation due to the growing demand for ‘green’ farming practices, rising population, and high-income increase. Diverse agricultural start-ups and technology innovators are creating new intelligent systems. As a result, farmers can improve the production yield by enhancing inputs and a well-planned market strategy. The USA Smart Farming market is anticipated to reach $11.93 billion by 2023.

Future of technology solutions in agriculture

Over the past century, agriculture has undergone a radical industrialization process driven by a series of technological innovations designed to maximize production efficiency. Heavy equipment development significantly reduced the need for manual labor, and the popularization of solutions based on renewable energy sources resulted in lowered costs and increased sustainability. The agricultural market is very dynamic, and we can expect to see even more technological development in the years to come. Because of the growing world’s demands and digital evolution, the Smart Farming market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 12.36% during the forecast period, 2020-2026.

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Inez Bartosińska

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