In recent years, agriculture innovation has seen a huge growth in investment. Innovation has become more important in modern agriculture than ever before. Many innovations come through technology startups. The industry itself is facing huge challenges from climate change due to global warming, rising costs of supplies, shortage of labor, the shift of consumer behaviour, and sustainability.
Creating more sustainable farming practices is one of the goals many companies are focusing on. These practices require adopting new technologies for crop management, pest control, quality control, and disease management. New technologies allow future generations to grow fresh and green food without destroying the earth.
Here are some of the game changers of Agtech Innovation in 2021 and beyond:
1. Indoor Vertical Farming
Indoor vertical farming is segmented by growth mechanisms (aeroponics, hydroponics, and aquaponics) and can be defined as the practice of growing produce stacked one above another in a closed and controlled environment. This practice is growth under climate control, lighting, and sensors and utilises space vertically, it significantly reduces the amount of land space needed to grow plants compared to the conventional farming methods.
Why is vertical farming so popular among sustainable farming methods?
Since indoor vertical farmings are completely grown under a climate control environment using controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) technology and sealed off from the outside environment, there are no pests occur and no need for pesticides and herbicides. As a result, the food grown is healthier, fresh, and safer. This practice took up significantly less land space than conventional methods, and many companies started to build the local urban farming centers in the middle of the societies and this impacted the distribution chain. Customers can easily and faster access and buy fresh and green food while this also contributes to the less carbon footprint on the planet. Furthermore, with the newest technology of lightning systems; LEDs provide light to the plants with various ranges of waves for specific plants and they are proving more efficient than other artificial lighting mechanisms.
2. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
The current innovation that has earned its place in the Agtech sector is virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). The VR recreates a real working environment and helps farmers to survey the field such as determine the quality of soil, the appropriate time to pick up crops and use the soil maximum potential for crop production. By using VR, employees can carry out pre-planting field processing and harvesting by creating specific scenarios. The AR plays a significant role in precision farming by offering farmers instant access to valuable data and it can help farmers make accurate and timely decisions. With the combination of VR and AR, farmers can easily use VR to run specific scenarios for farm and crop management, implement the system on the field and analyze the data (quality and composition of the crops) of the field using the AR.
The combination of VR and AR is the game-changer for future farm
3. Farm Automation a.k.a Smart Farming
We have seen the development of technology that makes farms more efficient and automates the crop and livestock production cycle, this is known as farm automation and often associated with “smart farming”. Technologies under farm automation such as robotics, drones, computer vision software which have completely transformed conventional into modern agriculture. Many companies (Abundant Robotics and Blue River Technologies) now are specifically working on robotics innovation to develop autonomous tractors, robotics harvesters, automatic watering, and seeding robotics.
Smart Farming is the future of agriculture
This technique enables farmers to better monitor and give accurate data of crops and adjust their nutrition and needs correspondingly, thereby preventing disease and enhancing the health of crops.
4. Modern Greenhouses
As the market has grown rapidly, the global demand for food is only expected to grow in the future, and it is important to control the environment and make full use of the resources available to planting crops. The traditional Greenhouse controls the environmental parameters through manual control mechanisms which often results in more energy loss and increased labor cost, leading to production loss and lower yield.
Why is adopting modern greenhouse technology vital?
The use of greenhouses today is emerging to large-scale and urban-centered. Greenhouse companies are scaling significantly and located their growing facilities near urban-centered to cover the demand for local food in all seasons. The modern greenhouses today are becoming an increasingly tech-heavy application, by adding LEDs, intelligent automated control systems (including self-water system), strategic shading and light optimisation, cooling technology, and combined heat & power (CHP) system to perfectly tailor the growing environment and create the perfect climate-control environment for crops.The current technology system using IoT sensors allows farmers to collect various data points at unprecedented granularity, it means they provide real-time information on critical climate factors including; temperature, humidity, light exposure, and carbon dioxide across the greenhouse. By using this data, it can give the best conditions for plant growth while driving energy efficiency.
5. Artificial Intelligence
An increase in demand for fresh food, this led to the rise of digital agriculture and its related technologies to maximize production and energy efficiency. The use of Artificial Intelligence in agriculture helps farmers to understand the data insights such as temperature, precipitation, wind speed, and solar radiation.
The goal of using the Artificial Intelligence system is to allow farmers to gain a better understanding of the field situation through advanced technology for a better harvest
Advanced technology such as remote sensing can tell farmers more about field situations than they can determine through the naked eye, and helps to give accurate and quick data. Remote sensors, satellites, and UAVs can gather information 24 hours per day over an entire field. These technologies can monitor crop health, soil conditions, temperature, humidity, etc. Using remote sensors enables algorithms to proceed in a field’s environment as statistical data that can be useful to farmers for accurate decision making. Remote sensing data acquired in multiple bands, including optical, thermal, and microwave that have been used to estimate soil moisture globally. AI technologies rapidly improve problems while recommending specific and accurate actions that are required to overcome the problems. Using AI in agriculture can give high efficiency in monitoring the information to find better and quick solutions for farmers.
Author: Felliesia Regina (Horticulturist - Cofounder of AgriBioTechX)
Source: PlugandPlay | TechVersions | Google
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