With the human population presumed to touch nearly 10 billion by 2050 (according to a U.N report), the earth’s landmass will come below tremendous strain to satisfy our food requirements. Additionally, the mounting difficulties of global warming, deforestation, soil erosion, and depleting water resources, pose serious difficulties to farm productivity.
However, the development of technologies such as AI, Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning, big data analytics, is promoting the usage of smart machines and intelligent robots in agriculture. Named precision or smart agriculture, these technologies are paving the way for enhancing agriculture yield with the limited natural resources we have to serve a burgeoning global population.
The global precision farming/agriculture market was estimated at USD 5.3 Billion in 2018 and is presumed to touch USD 14.1 billion by the year 2026, at a CAGR of 12.7%.
The rise in precision and smart agriculture
The major drivers for the rise in the smart agriculture/precision agriculture market include increased strain on global food supplies, the need for optimizing crop production, and the introduction of government initiatives promoting modern technology-induced agricultural techniques.
We are evolving towards AI-enabled smart precision agriculture and smart connected farm culture where technology manages and empowers a farmer in a really rewarding way. For ages, farmers world-over, particularly in Asian countries, have been pursuing battle with all sorts of external and internal factors such as random hostile weather, pest problems, water deficiency, or even drought. Now, the trend can be modified with AI and big data analytics, which has appeared as a true revelation benefitting the farmer community.
Advanced digital technology can be utilized to optimize every inch of farmland so that no part of the farmland goes untouched or is left wasted, unlike what happens with traditional farming. Today’s smart technology assures every plant is examined for health and growth tracking, and any persisting pest problems are recognized and notified to the farmer – something which is not achievable with traditional agriculture methods.
The rise in smart and precision agriculture
AI combined with big data, cloud, IoT, and ML is modifying rural farmlands with a variety of data-driven solutions- from automatic discovery of drought patterns to tracking the ripening patterns of apples or tomatoes, to smart tractors that weed out the infected and sick plants.
Today, drones are widely used in agriculture for research analysis, security, rescue, terrain scanning, spatial analysis, monitoring soil hydration, recognizing yield problems, etc. These smart drones even pinpoint and accurately spray pesticides on diseased plants in the vast range of farmlands, help add micro and macronutrients, examine physical properties such as moisture, chemical properties, pH balance by adding lime, etc.
Precision agriculture simultaneously with an AI-powered application helps farmers recognize the disease that has hurt the plant and later, match it from the list of its disease imagery database, and accept corrective measures. This is just one of the nearly endless possibilities with AI and data analytics in precision agriculture. The data and analytics presentthe insights farmers require to make the right attacks at the right time.
The role of AI and analytics in smart farms
An AI-driven technology solution must be able to give insights that will help farmers produce significantly greater yields. Building smart solutions include staging multiple information points in large agricultural farms, gathering precise and pertinent data from those data points and several edge devices like drones, sensors, and smart cameras, and coupling these with intelligent monitoring and analytics systems to give relevant information to the farmer.
Blockchain for higher livestock and fish farm yields
AI combined with big data analytics, ML, and IoT-powered smart edge devices like GPS, drones, sensors, RFID and LED lights are also transforming livestock and fish farming.
Blockchain is now the new kid on the technology segment in the agriculture space. Blockchain solutions are helping assure transparency, faster processing time, zero-time lag whilst supporting superior accountability, all attributes adding to a thorough optimization of farmers’ supply chain produce, thus appending real value.
Maximizing farm output by a factor of 6X
Farmers can transform their dreams into the reality of guaranteed increased farm output of up to 5-6 times per acre by adopting and embracing future smart technologies into agricultural systems thereby, making the most out of each acre. By any standard, that is an impressive number. Like never before, today’s technology is enabling farmers to take a giant leap forward, thereby dramatically enhancing their quality of life. From a farmer’s point of view, it’s a big wonder happening in their small farm place.
Digital technology tools powering the next green revolution
The AI technology has become so excellent that nowadays we have tractor machinery that weeds out the infected plants and satellite imagery providing pictures of drought patterns. AI-powered plant app ‘Plantix’, for example, confirmed to be a true blessing for the farmers. It is a plant disease and diagnostic tool, which provides complete information on plants. It helps in recognizing the plant disease and suggests corrective actions to be taken by farmers.
So, neglect the naysayers! It’s already happening, the future of agriculture is in the hands of smart technologies and devices, and the early adopters will certainly be rewarded.
Although the cost part is not yet clear one thing is for certain, with more and more technology players entering the market, the increasing competition brings efficiency and cost reduction occurring in mass adoption. Not just farmers, but we all will profit from improved agricultural results and high food productivity. Farmers can not only get relieved of their long-standing agricultural woes but also reap large profits from limited farmland they have by using them from ‘small’ to ‘smart.’
But, to turn this into reality, the industry thought leaders, technology organizations, and agriculture experts should help and work continuously to enhance, innovate and harness the potential of AI. Also, governments over the globe should spread the message on how significant precision agriculture is to the farmers by educating and inspiring them to embrace emerging technologies like AI, which is demonstrating to be a game-changer having tremendous potential to enhance farm yield productivity.
The early adopters of AI and other developing technologies will have a significant advantage in farming. It will assist farmers with an improved farm output, better wealth, and most importantly, perform precision agriculture and sustainable farming a reality benefitting mankind.
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