Innovative technology has changed the face of agriculture throughout the world. From social networks to cutting-edge tech like self-driving vehicles, farming is going digital. Thereby, giving stakeholders a lot of innovative solutions for effective farming. More focus has been placed by governmental and international bodies to achieve sustainability in agriculture. Creating more sustainable farming practices requires adopting new technologies for crop management, pest control, quality control, and integrated disease management. The new technologies allow current and future generations of farmers to grow without compromising the needs of the earth. In light of this, take a look at some of these groundbreaking AgTech Innovations in 2020 and beyond.
1. Smart farming automation
Farm automation, commonly linked with “smart farming”, is a technology that makes farms more efficient by automating the production cycle of crops and livestock. Technologies like robotics, drones, and computer vision software have completely transformed modern agriculture. Also, major technologies utilized by farms include harvest automation, autonomous tractors, seeding and weeding, and drones. Farm automation technology addresses major issues like global population, farm labor shortages, and changing consumer preferences. Furthermore, it is predicted that the global market for agricultural robots will rise to $10.1 billion by 2024.
2. Soil DNA testing
Through DNA-mapping technology, farmers can test microbiomes and organic matter to analyze health metrics and take better care of their soil. Pattern, an AgTech company uses soil DNA testing to identify insects, nematodes, bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens present in a field to predict and prevent crop damage. Moreover, DNA tests generate a multitude of data that can be used for soil health analytics. Therefore, this gives farmers more transparency about their farmland.
3. Precision agriculture
Technologies developed by new precision agriculture companies help farmers to maximize yields by controlling moisture levels, pest stress, soil conditions, and micro-climates. Precision agriculture also enables farmers to increase efficiency and manage costs. Furthermore, a report by Grand View Research, Inc. predicts that the precision agriculture market will reach $43.4 billion by 2025.
4. Smart sensors
This is is one of the most successful AgTech innovations across the globe. There are a variety of new and innovative applications for sensors in farming. Sensors are cost-effective and beneficial for agriculture. Remote sensors, satellites, and UAVs can gather information 24 hours over an entire field. They monitor plant health, soil condition, temperature, humidity, etc. Moreover, sensors can scan an agricultural field from the sky via drones to detect dry patches and nutrient-deficient areas. Furthermore, farmers can use smart sensor technologies to monitor moisture levels of grains. These enable farmers to collect unprecedented levels of data about their farmland for better farming.
5. AI-enabled self-driving tractors
Automated farming equipment like a self-driven tractor or seeder provides solutions for time constraints and labor shortages. These automated machines can work round the clock to bring higher yields in reduced time. With GPS, geofences are activated to keep driverless tractors on course and shut them off if they drive off course. Therefore, with the right automated equipment, farmers can scale operations from a few thousand acres to 10 thousand acres.
6. Laser Scarecrows
Pests like starlings, blackbirds, and crows can destroy up to 75% of crops within 48 hours of harvest, leading to a huge loss in revenue. The traditional scarecrows or propane cannons did not prove effective to combat the issue. Hence, the University of Rhode Island invented laser scarecrows to keep these birds away. This innovation projects green laser lighting which is invisible by humans in the sun. However, birds are sensitive to green color. The automated lasers are fired across fields up to 600 feet and effectively startle birds to prevent them from destroying crops. Furthermore, they are less harmful to the environment and not labor-intensive. Many pest control companies have adopted this technology. Also, they claim the device can prevent up to 90% of crop losses.
7. Harvest Quality Vision – HQV
The Harvest Quality Vision (HQV) is one of the recent AgTech innovations, that simplifies the harvesting process of fruits and vegetables. HQV uses computerized scanners to capture and determine the quality and quantity of crops. The software creates alerts whenever there are diseases, defects, and quantity shortages of crops so that corrective measures can be taken in the harvesting process. Moreover, HQV helps farmers to produce more consistent crops of higher quality. Currently, this technology is available through Croptracker for apple grading and sorting. Furthermore, it plans to roll out grading systems for other crop types too.
8. Vertical farming
One of the oldest and most sought-after AgTech innovations is Vertical Farming. It is the production in vertically stacked layers such as in a skyscraper, used warehouse, or shipping container. Also, this type of farming uses indoor farming techniques and controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) technology, to control environmental factors. In 2020, vertical farming has taken the next stage in development. This has reduced the amount of land space needed to grow plants compared to traditional farming methods. Furthermore, LEDs provide light to the plants and are more efficient than other artificial lighting mechanisms. Contextually, many startups and small enterprises help in the development of vertical farming.
Other innovative systems worth mentioning are Nanofarming, FarmBot, Paperpot Transplanter, Fruit/Vegetable Moulds, Shrub Trimmer, Bee Vectoring, Minichromosome Technology, and Zero-gravity Plant Growing Technology (LYFE). As a matter of fact, the investment in agriculture technology has seen accelerated growth of more than 40%. AgTech innovations provide farmers with better governance over crop quality control, pest management, and even the optimization of their existing practices to achieve higher revenue. These new technologies have the potential to take productivity and land stewardship to new heights. Moreover, AgTech technologies will enable farmers to make smart decisions about new investments. In 2020 and years to come, AgTech will design better ways for farmers and landowners to understand their land and choose the right tools. Also, empower better farmland stewardship.