Digital Transformation Trends in Agricultural Engineering
The agriculture industry influences many sectors of the economy locally as well as internationally. From farmers and real estate to supermarkets and restaurants, it’s important to understand what is going on in this industry and how it will affect the production and distribution of food.
In recent years, technology in agriculture, also known as AgTech has rapidly changed the industry. Just in 2015, the industry’s investment in technology reached a whopping $4.6 billion! Although, with the growing population, it has the potential to affect resource availability going forward. In recent studies, it was found that the industry’s output must increase by 60% by 2030.
To do this, farmers and food producers must embrace the digital transformation trends in agriculture. So, let’s start looking at trends for this year and the upcoming years!
- Internet of Things (IoT) and Sensors in the Field
The IoT is affecting the agriculture industry – all in a good way though. In fact, there is extreme potential for using IoT within the food sector. According to a network hardware company, Cisco, there is an estimated $14.4 trillion in value at stake with the emergence of IoT alone. This system is streamlining the collection, inspection, and overall distribution of agricultural resources using sensors on equipment and materials.
These sensors are placed strategically around fields along with image recognition technologies. This will allow farmers to view their crops wherever in the world they may be. These sensors will also send farmers up-to-date information in real-time, so specific actions can be done to their crops. This will totally change the game for checking in on their crops. The same goes for the IoT sensors in the field but on a much bigger scale resulting in higher production with less waste – which is exactly what this industry needs.
- Drones and Crop Monitoring
For farmers who work in fields that span hundreds of acres, it would be hard to monitor and ensure that their crops are doing fine in one quick view. This is why cheaper drones are being used widely across the US for crop monitoring as a means to combat drought and other harmful environmental factors. Also, drones that produce 3D imaging can be used to predict soil quality through analysis and planning seed planting patterns. What makes these drones even better is that they are easier to fly and the data provided will be easier to understand.
The use of drones doesn’t stop there – they are also being used to spray chemicals on crops while being careful not to penetrate groundwater. Recent studies have shown that drones can increase the speed of spraying by five times compared to other types of machinery. They can be used to deliver things where and when they are needed.
- Robotics in Farming
It is widely known that robots and artificial intelligence are used a lot in other industries and the outcomes have been really good. So, if robots and AI are used in agriculture, it would also improve productivity and would result in higher and faster yield. Such robots like the spraying and weeding robots recently acquired by John Deere, a manufacturing company, can reduce agrochemical use by an incredible 90%.
To continue innovating, other startup companies such as Naio Technologies are experimenting with laser and camera guidance for identifying and removing weeds without human intervention. These robots can use the guidance to navigate between rows of crops on their own, thus reducing the manpower behind it. On the other hand, other companies are working on plant-transplanting robots that add a new level of efficiency to traditional methods, and finally, automation is being tested for fruit-picking and harvesting.
Changes will not be possible in an industry if it does not depend on digital transformation. As our population is growing, our agricultural methods must grow with it. Farmers will benefit from each of these transformation trends in agriculture, giving them freedom from concerns over the environment, a better yielding crop, and the ability to manage their crops in new and efficient methods. It’s time to take necessary actions with the advantage of the technology we have at our disposal to have better production and distribution of food.