The agriculture industry is one that’s community-based and traditional. But when it comes to modern technology, farmers are pioneering new and more efficient ways to farm.
- Consumers are demanding more sustainable practices. That starts at the purchase counter, but extends down the supply chain to the grower or rancher. So farmers are focusing more on sustainability in order to meet the market demands.
- Farms are becoming more entrepreneurial. There’s certainly always been a strand of entrepreneurship to the farm – the sense of ownership over the business, the “go get ‘em mentality.” But since traditional farm practices aren’t yielding the best results, farmers are forced to re-think how they farm.
- Even with the popularity of social media growing among farmers, the ag industry is still highly community-based. The connection that the Internet and other technologies provide us is used to prop up, not bring down, the local farming community.
Add to that the demands that farmers feed 9 million people by 2050, and there’s a growing need to make operations more efficient and cost-effective than before. Technology and data are the key to making that possible.
From equipment to feed, supply sales to farm operations, to wholesale and retail produce management, agribusiness technology advancements are changing the industry.
Here are a few specific examples.
Machine learning and AI can save farmers' time, resources, and perform certain tasks with incredible precision. In some situations, tasks that took 10 days with traditional methods can be accomplished in just 15 minutes thanks to machines.
Here are some of the ways machine learning is impacting farmers:
- Automated irrigation systems reduce the cost of vegetables, help maintain or increase average vegetable yields, and minimize environmental impacts. Overall, machine learning is helping make the industry more competitive and sustainable.
- Remote sensing: crop health monitoring. This saves farmers time and provides a more precise analysis than what humans can provide.
- Facial recognition system for domestic cattle. Based on certain features, the machines can tell what cows are willing to eat and what they aren’t, saving farmers feeding costs. Plus, they can also predict lameness early, helping farmers proactively solve the issue and avoid months of lower production.
- Greenhouse climate controller. Controlling climate within a greenhouse is a complicated process, relying on a large number of variables. AI can calculated all these variables and provide more precise specifications for climate conditions based on the types of crops available, saving energy in the process.
Robotic Farm Equipment
Robots have come a long way since The Terminator was released in 1984. Now, robots are making waves in medicine, air transportation, the military, and, yes, agriculture.
Here are a few examples of robots that are impacting the ag industry:
- Crop spraying. Instead of paying pilots to fly, drones are doing the crop spraying for us. This saves the cost of manpower, and also eliminates the standard risks associated with flying.
- Harvesting. Whether maintaining soil humidity or picking the ripe fruits, robots can use a network of sensors to harvest efficiently, saving farmers’ time and energy.
- Weed control. Some robots are specially designed to remove weeds faster than farmers can; and some are smart enough to make decisions regarding which herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and watering methods work best for each weed and crop type.
- Autonomous tractors. Instead of spending hours out in the fields on tractors, farmers can use these robots and let them go out and do the work.
And these are just a few examples. As agriculture becomes more and more about automation, there will be new ways for robots to revolutionize the way we do agriculture, saving farmers time and money.
Mobile Farm Technology
94 percent of farmers currently own smartphones, and they’re using them for a variety of purposes. These include tracking weather patterns, inventory of equipment and supplies, managing staff, controlling precision ag equipment, and more.
If your business is using mobile apps to help farmers, then the door’s wide open for you. Here are a few ways you can connect with farmers on mobile:
- Social media. Over 40 percent of farmers use Facebook. 26 percent of all farmers aged 35 to 46 use Twitter. As the number of monthly active social media users grows, the number of farmers on social is expected to grow as well.
- Accessing stats on-the-go. With internet-accessing mobile devices, farmers can look up the latest stats on weather, crop history, and more in real time. Instead of relying on print almanacs, everything they need is accessible from their phones. And some apps are bringing all this data to one central location.
- Field scouting. Whatever your business is, mobile tech lets you field scout like never before. For example, Farm Market iD’s FieldVision app lets you access nearly a decade of farm and crop data, CLU data, and displays it on a map that’s customized to your location. This technology empowers sales people in ways never seen before, opening the door to more sales and more revenue.
As farmers continue to use mobile technology to their advantage, marketers need to respond. Start making websites mobile-responsive, and craft your content knowing that a lot of views are going to be on mobile devices.