Agriculture is becoming a high-tech business. Farmers and ranchers are using technology to grow more crops and raise more animals on less land, controls pests and disease, and use data to make faster, better decisions.
In 2020, the use of technology in agriculture is only going to expand. And it’s doing so on the heels of these top four tech trends:
1. Artificial intelligence (AI)
While technology is making it easier to monitor things like soil conditions, water usage and the weather, AI is making it easier to use that data to make decisions.
What crops should you sow in which fields this year? What should you use to control pests and when? How fast can you catch and eliminate disease in crops and animals?
Bots with AI abilities can identify signs of disease in vast fields of crops or herds of cattle and pigs earlier than people can, helping to reduce the damage done.
And what about the weather? 2019 brought rainy conditions that delayed the planting season and led to lower crop yields. We’ve always had the Farmer’s Almanac, but AI’s ability to create seasonal forecasting models can help farmers make valuable crop and planting decisions ahead of time.
AI’s applications in agriculture are far-reaching and significant, making it our top 2020 ag tech trend.
When it comes to blockchain, the supply chain is one huge area where it can help the agriculture industry.
It’s all too frequent that we hear about E. coli causing lettuce recalls. So much unaffected lettuce gets recalled just to be safe, all because the source cannot be identified fast enough.
But blockchain is being used to track food throughout the supply chain, enabling stores to trace a single piece of food back to its source in seconds, as opposed to days. This means contaminated supply chains can be identified immediately. Affected products can be recalled before they cause illness or death. And unaffected products can continue to be sold without fear.
Read more: Blockchain in agriculture: Why tracing a mango to its source in 2.2 seconds matters!
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is working in tandem with blockchain to make that supply chain tracking a reality. RFID sensors can tag crops and animals alike, giving each a unique ID number.
Whether it’s grocery stores looking to trace back contaminated products or consumers looking to make sure they purchase their food from ag producers with sustainable practices, RFID is the foundation of supply chain tracking. The information it collects and stores can then be used by blockchain to create a secure, trustworthy trail. Farmers and ranchers can be more assured their products make it safe to consumers’ tables.
4. Internet of things (IoT) sensors
IoT sensors are having a big impact on agriculture. Farmers can place them in their fields to monitor crops remotely, ranchers can use them to track the health of their animals, and both can place sensors on their equipment to monitor machine health and reduce downtime. IoT’s ability to warn you before that downtime happens means you can act to prevent it and keep equipment up and running.
Read more: What is IoT?
When we talked about AI and bots earlier, they often leverage IoT sensors to gain the data needed to make decisions and take action or to alert you to do so. In fact, all four of these trends we’ve talked about can combine to create a more efficient and profitable agribusiness. Even the ag industry can’t escape the idea of digital transformation and rethinking processes and business models in order to provide greater value. Exploring these four trends could mean a more competitive and successful business.