Technology shifts in agriculture

Agriculture is a $7.8 trillion industry, representing 10% of the world's GDP, and employing over 1.3 billion people, close to 40% of the global working population. As recently as 2010, there were only around 20 companies involved in agtech. But by 2015, the number had risen to 500+, with agtech financing reaching a massive $4.6 billion the same year.

With the world's population projected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, experts expect agricultural consumption to increase by nearly 70 percent over the same time. In addition, extreme weather events are on the rise, creating additional obstacles to productivity. The good news is that many technologies are coming together to revolutionize agriculture in the face of these constraints.

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AI is being used in

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Crop and soil management

AI in crop and soil management encompasses the traditional methods of a farmer surveying and testing the quality of soil to plant seeds and thereafter manually carrying out plantation and breeding processes. With the development of AI technology, it is easier to keep a track and predict the right time for planting, irrigation, and harvesting. Advanced sensors and technologies make the entire task of crop and soil management uncomplicated for farmers.

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Livestock farming

Livestock farming is an integral branch of agriculture concerned with the care and management of livestock. It deals with all the tools and technologies involved in managing and ensuring the optimum health of farm animals, including genetic qualities and behavior. Generating and leveraging useful information through AI will help farmers manage their livestock efficiently with minimum supervision.

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Robotics

Scaling up of farm operations to match the exponential increase in consumption will drive the need for automation technologies in farms. As farmers are increasingly automating their operations, robots and drones have become an integral part of farms and are assisting farmland owners to improve their yield and product quality while addressing increasing supply needs. AI has become the backbone of robotics, as it enables a machine to use language processing and deep learning capabilities to take cognitive decisions.

Technologies impacting agriculture

Internet of things

For Agriculture

IoT sensors can provide farmers with information about crop yields, rainfall, pest infestation, and soil nutrition. Smart farming also involves intensively controlled indoor growing methods. IoT device installations in agriculture will increase from 30 million in 2015 to 75 million in 2020.

Impact on farm machinery

Tractors can include IoT sensors, wireless communications, cloud apps and even steering-wheel replacements that guide precision passes across arable land. A sensor can also measure the pressure being exerted on each seed as it is planted, ensuring that seeds are set at the optimal depth for successful growth.

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Drones

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For Agriculture

Agricultural drones can be miniature fixed-wing airplanes, quadcopters or multibladed small helicopters. Crop imaging with a manned aircraft can cost up to $1,000 an hour. In contrast, farmers can buy drones for less than $1,000 each.

Drones - The new farm machine

Drones have multiple farm applications. Some of these include soil and field analysis, planting, crop spraying, crop monitoring, irrigation and health assessment.

Robots

For Agriculture

Conventional tasks such as tilling, sowing and harvesting of grains can be performed using autonomous robots with great accuracy. The main area of application of robots in agriculture today is at the harvesting stage.

Application

Robots are inolved in multiple agricultural activities, including nursery planting, crop seeding, crop monitoring and analysis, fertilizing and irrigation, crop weeding and spraying, thinning and pruning, autonomous tractors and picking and harvesting.

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Read our report on AI trends in Agriculture
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