We are in the midst of a digital revolution and progressing rapidly toward new and exciting technologies that involve AI, Machine Learning, Big Data, and more. But as we imagine robots performing unimaginable feats and taking a vacation on Mars, we should not ignore the more day-to-day problems that technology will solve for us in the future. Apart from groundbreaking advances, technology will also simplify our everyday needs.
One of our fundamental needs is a reliable source of food. Progress in agricultural technology, or agritech, has already started and is expected to advance even more in the future.
What is Agritech?
Agritech refers to the technological innovation in agriculture that transforms traditional agricultural practices. It can reduce the time taken for planting and harvesting, improve yield, and increase profitability. Technologies such as AI and Big Data are already creating ripples in the agricultural production. The aim is to address the challenges currently being faced by the farming industry.
Let's take a look at some of the challenges that the agricultural sector faces.
One of the most important changes that the world faces today is climate change. Ironically, one of the factors contributing to climate change is agriculture itself. Aggressive farming practices aimed at maximising productivity result in the reclaiming of forest land for agriculture.
Deforestation increases the emission of greenhouse gases and causes a rise in temperature. This, in turn, impacts the growth and harvesting of crops.
Due to the excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the quality of the soil deteriorates over time. This negatively impacts the yield in terms of quality as well as quantity. Thus, farmers are prompted to use even more fertilizers and pesticides. This vicious cycle continues to degrade the soil quality even more.
Chemicals used in pesticides and fertilizers seep through the soil and pollute nearby water sources. Water from these same sources is then used for irrigation of other crops.
Carbon Footprint and Resource Consumption
Agriculture today uses a lot of machinery. The fuel used to run these machines depletes non-renewable resources and increases the carbon footprint. Even organic farming, often lauded for its non-dependence on harmful chemicals, leads to depletion of resources. This is because organic farming needs more land compared to traditional farming for the same yield. Deforestation also leads to a decrease in the biodiversity of the area.
How can Agritech help address these issues?
Agricultural technology can help create a Smart Agricultural System. Smart farming can completely change the way we grow crops. It can optimise farms and fields and create a sustainable ecosystem. Below are a few things that agritech and smart farming can help achieve.
Automated irrigation not just saves up on the manual effort, it can save water, too. With intelligent sensors, water usage can be optimised. This helps avoid over-irrigation and reduces energy costs.
Big Data can be used to accurately analyse the soil conditions, climate, and other factors. This can make way for intelligent farming techniques that yield an abundant crop. Weather forecasting can help to time the planting and harvesting schedules in order to get the best results and improve productivity.
It is now possible to farm without soil! Hydroponics is a method that allows crops to grow without soil by providing the exact minerals required by the crop in appropriate quantities. These minerals are provided via water.
Vertical farming can save a lot of space. In this method of farming, crops are grown in multiple vertical layers. Irrigation and lighting are provided as needed for the crop to grow well. This method is great for small spaces. It can help bring farming to the urban areas, too, where you can grow your own produce in the middle of the city.
Monitoring the crops:
Satellites and drones can be used to monitor the crops, measure them, and create terrain maps. The crops can be monitored for infestation so that quick remedies can be applied. Drones can also be used for the quick dispensing of fertilizers and insecticides. Also, instead of covering the entire area with insecticides, only the affected area can be sprayed.
These are only some of the use cases of smart farming and agritech. The productivity of smart farming depends on how we harness the technology for better use. Thus, using good quality components in the equipment being used becomes important.
For instance, the Standard Series Ethernet and Indicators that can be mounted on machine and vehicle panels, are just two examples. Bulgin provides a wide range of Connectors, Panel Lights, Switches, etc.These components can be customised specifically for agricultural machines and vehicles. They are widely used to support agritech and smart farming.