Smart agriculture is the science and art of improving farming with technology. Innovations in farming are by no means new – since the invention of the wheel and the plow, the industry has been adopting new tools and ways of working for centuries.
Today, as we move into the era of the high-tech farm, technologies are emerging which disrupts the way farmers monitor, manage and view every aspect of agriculture. Growing enough food to feed a population has never been easy and – as the strain on resources increases – it is more important than ever to invest in innovative technologies that can ease the burden on the industry.
The growth of connection and data collection in smart agriculture
In traditional outdoor large-area farming, there has been a revolution in using key technologies such as communications networks and networked sensors to monitor crop conditions and the environment. Smart Agricultural sensors enable farmers to access real-time data from remote measurement tools that report on soil moisture, temperature, and pH.
Similarly, environmental sensors can measure insolation (the amount of sun over a given area), rainfall, wind speed, air temperature, and humidity. Most recently, drones have been used to survey crops or pests and, when connected to communication networks, monitor and report on large areas of farmland in real-time. Ultimately, all of these tools are helping farmers to work more land with less physical presence.
With budgets and space becoming increasingly restricted, more farmers are turning to automated equipment. Using technology, they can plant, water, maintain and harvest crops with the highest efficiency, which helps to improve the use of land, resources and time, essentially this is smart agriculture. This is particularly important when it comes to planting and watering. With planting, automated planting can optimise the use of land and sow the highest number of plants for a given area.
Finally, with data in the modern farmer’s toolbox, all areas of agriculture can benefit from investment in data analytics. Combining existing datasets with machine learning and intelligent systems can spot patterns and send alerts or notifications. All this can contribute to increasingly informed and improved decision making for the farmer.
In the smart farm, technologies like sensors, networks, and data are coming together to improve the whole industry from sowing to harvest and beyond. As technology changes the farm, it will change farmers too, enabling remote monitoring of fields and crops, and data analytics to distribute their presence effectively over large areas of land and guide their attention to where they are needed most. With higher demands on farmers than ever, these technologies combined with management software are creating a virtual ecosystem where resources and the food produced are more efficiently managed throughout the farming process.
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