At present, there are over 7 billion people living on earth, which is expected to be 9.6 billion by the year 2050. If all these figures hold good, then the overall food production needs to increase at a rapid pace in relatively short time period for meeting the demand to feed the world’s population.
However, there is good news that the advanced digital technologies available today are making it possible for collecting and leveraging large amounts of critical and pivotal data at reduced costs—hence making the operations of farm’s field insight-driven, and possibly more efficient and productive. The agriculture ecosystem has already started investing in such digital technologies. The market size for the digital-based services is anticipated to rise at a CAGR of 12.2% between 2014-2020, reaching about $4.55 billion. The enhanced use of digital agriculture services is crucial to not just for improving the performance of the farm financially, but also for meeting the food requirement of the growing population.
ENGENDERING CRUCIAL OPERATIONAL INSIGHTS
For being successful, a farm should grow to the max per acre as it could, reducing the chances of crop failure, minimising the operating costs, and selling crops at the best possible price. All of this requires, together with several other things, managing the input resources effectively like water, fertilizer and seed quality and reducing the effect of unpredictable variables like weather and pests. Though, attaining this feat is not easy. Traditional methods such as physical crop inspection is a time-consuming one and could also be erroneous, while tractor-mounted and fixed sensors alone won’t offer a real-time image of what is happening in the field. The farmers are facing additional challenges in interpreting this information into operational insights which could assist them in understanding what actions to take, where and when. It is where Digital Agriculture Service comes into play. By producing comprehensive insights into operations, it helps farmers to make data-based informed operational decisions for optimizing yield and boosting revenue while reducing expenses, the risks of crop failure, and overall environmental impact.
Depending on the crop, the Digital Agriculture Service could help improve the overall profitability by $60 to $110 each acre. This Digital Agriculture Service combines real-time data from several sources, including NDVI images from UAVs, environmental sensors in the field, sensors mounted on the field equipment, soil databases and weather forecast data. By merging telemetry from such diverse sources and leveraging the decision support engine coded with the crop-specific rules of the business, Digital Agricultural Service could offer recommended actions for the farmers to take for improving the economic output from their farms. Digital Agriculture Service could be connected to farm’s work management system that allows the platform in automatically scheduling the appropriate machinery when the farmers accept definite recommendations.
BY PRODUCING COMPREHENSIVE INSIGHTS, FARMERS COULD MAKE OPERATIONAL DECISIONS BASED ON DATA WHICH WOULD OPTIMIZE YIELD AND INCREASE REVENUE WHILE REDUCING EXPENSES AND THE RISKS OF CROP FAILURE.
Most of the farms globally—predominantly those located in the emerging markets are relatively small, involving few acres alone. These small farmers follow conventional farming practices since they lack knowledge about the existing modern practices. Residing in the remote areas, struggling in nurturing crops on their small plots, these farmers overuse the macro fertilizers and neglect the advantage which they could get from the micro-fertilizers suitable for their soil and crops. These farmers also lack understanding of the pest life cycles, and hence frequently experience crop failure when an avoidable infestation or infection occurs. That’s where digital technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) together with the big data analytics and visualization capabilities can help farmers in gathering and cross-correlating a wide range of critical data for making timely and meaningful operating decisions which could enhance their yield and ultimately the profitability. Intended particularly for smallholder farmers, these solutions could enable the agro-input providers for helping farmers improve their yields by providing pesticide, fertilizer, and seed advice tailored for a farmer’s land and requirements.
DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES ALLOW FARMERS IN ACHIEVING A QUANTUM JUMP FORWARD IN THEIR OVERALL PERFORMANCE
Improving the agricultural yield is an age-old challenge for farmers and will continue to be. Though, today, digital technologies are allowing farmers in achieving a quantum jump forward in their overall performance. While increasing the yield is good for the profitability of the farm, it’s also gradually important for addressing the rising food demand among the ever-increasing population. Pair this with the lower environmental effect because of minimal water wastage, CO2 emissions, and chemical run-off, and one could see the crucial role digital technologies has to play in fostering maintainable farming practices. This is why it’s imperative for each and every participant involved in the agriculture biome to embrace innovative and emerging digital technologies for making their overall operations more productive, profitable and efficient.