Everything you need to know about Agritech

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

Agricultural technology, or agri-tech for short, began with the industrial revolution, where machines were used to increase crop production and animal yield. Over the years, it has remained one of the greatest advancements in human history as an excellent development to cushion the teeming global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. Agricultural technology involves the direct application of machines, Artificial Intelligence, and all other forms of technology to agriculture and its allied fields for higher sustainability.

In the past century, the world has experienced advancement in planting, synthetic fertilizers, irrigation, green and smart farming, and harvesting due to rapid technological advancement. All these have systematically engaged agricultural machinery to reduce labor and increase productivity, including monitoring beneficial planting seasons like weather forecasting.

What is agricultural technology (Agritech)?

Agricultural technology is the union of agriculture with technological innovations to improve agricultural output. In agri-tech, technology is utilized to manufacture and program machines to improve all processes involved in planting and rearing animals for their benefit by using little resources to increase yields and profitability.

Importance of Agricultural Technology

The use of agricultural technology to achieve faster, improved, and more resistant plant and animal species explains its importance or relevance.

An excellent example of the value of agricultural technology include the following:

  • The role of and application of Artificial Intelligence in crop and animal pest and disease diagnosis with specific solutions.
  • Big data for analyzing information, farm records and large scale agricultural statistics.
  • Robotics for improving planting, harvesting and processing turnaround time.

All these examples showcase the importance of agricultural technology in surmounting the challenges facing the agricultural industry today and in the future . Its synergy is used in creating AI powered automated pest and plant disease detectors, intelligent spraying and crop sorting machines amongst others.

Genetic modification and biotechnology have given rise to resistant varieties, allowing farmers to grow crops in otherwise unfavorable areas. As a result, we have even more tech advancements evident in smart farming, GPS technology and aerial imaging for precision and reproducibility in modern agriculture as seen in companies like Kubota crop and John Deere using precision agriculture to automatically gather and steer equipment forecasted by the world economic forum to increase global crop yield by 10% to 15% by 2030. For instance, in a recent trial conducted by Kubota and Aurea, an orchid aerial imaging was used to discover early symptoms of leaf discoloration resulting in saving up to 89% of fertilizer with targeted fertilizer application.

Present-day merits of agricultural technology include but are not limited to the following:

  • Cheaper food products result from increased resistant varieties that require fewer plant consumables such as water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
  • Reduced environmental pollution by effectively controlling chemical runoff into water bodies and farmlands.
  • Guaranteed farmers safety
  • Increased crop yield
  • Increased plant and animal production, processing distribution, and storage control.
  • Protection of the natural ecosystem
  • Increased reliability and monitoring of environmental resources, like water and air, through aerial imaging.

The use of technology in agriculture

Discussing the importance of agricultural technology is incomplete without a look at the use of technology in agriculture. This analytical spin-off enables you to appreciate agricultural technology’s relevance and utility better. Here are some of them.

Biotechnology

Agricultural technology is fundamentally applied in biotechnology–the fusion of biology and technology to produce new varieties. It is also known as genetic engineering since it involves the technological manipulation of genetic components in plants and animals for improved yield.

The goal is to create resistant varieties of plants and animals that can survive anywhere. As a result, farmers can carry out agricultural activities in places initially believed to be unfavorable for farming practices, like barren or dry lands and pest-infested environments or hyper-acidic and alkaline soils.

Farm machinery

A lack of, or inadequacy of farm tools or machines cripples the agricultural process making it problematic for farmers to meet demand. As a result, the higher cost of farm produce becomes the ripple effect of inadequate farm machinery. Therefore agricultural technology helps increase farmers’ accessibility to heavy-duty farm machines.

More farm machines mean increased agricultural productivity and reduced labor and production costs. For instance, planters and combine harvesters simplify the cultivation process where farmers produce ample food in so little time. It is like using a computer to do paperwork in the office. Agricultural technology engenders superior farming methods with less effort.

GPS in agriculture

GPS stands for global positioning system, an innovation to improve farmland status documentation. Proper documentation and record-keeping are critical for adequate agricultural production. Previously farm records were taken manually and were susceptible to improper storage.

However, modern technology advances allow farmers to rely on more accurate data for reference purposes and decision-making, as GPS simplifies the determination and documentation of farm yields, mapping and data collection.

Crop sensors

While designed to influence agricultural produce positively, pesticides and chemical fertilizers can pose health hazards if not well managed. As a result, figuring out the correct application sequence through crop sensors is essential for optimal agricultural production. Crop sensors facilitate pesticide and fertilizer application by helping farmers apply only the required amount for the crops to avoid problems like leaching.

Impact of Agritech on Farmer’s Life

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Agri-tech has made farm inputs accessible to farmers by allowing them to order farming inputs online through apps. It also allows them to sell their output directly to food processing companies and eliminate intermediaries (middlemen) to make more profit.

A typical example is the SaaS based Agri-tech startup CropIn which raised $14 million in their recent round of series D funding. Essentially agri-tech significantly contributes to the economic growth of most developing economies and, by extension, improves the living standard of most farmers, reducing the poverty rate and generating employment opportunities.

For instance, over 25 percent of the GDP in developing countries was due to agriculture as of 2018. Also, more jobs were created for increased employment for farmers and consumers.

More impacts of agri-tech on farmer’s life include:

  • Increased data access and effective communication among value chain players.
  • Improved crop yields by applying AI (Artificial intelligence), ML (Machine learning), and data analytics.
  • Improved farmers’ access to markets and direct connection to consumers by middlemen elimination for better product pricing.
  • Increasing farmers credit worthiness for accessing financial aid.

Top Agricultural Technologies in Asia: Benefits and Uses

Agritech is forecasted further to change the agricultural landscape in the years ahead. An excellent example is the internet of things (IoT) applied as smart farming. This has helped drive agricultural activities by combating climate change and boosting food security in 2022 while revolutionizing modern agriculture.

Also, the 21th century continues to experience innovations in areas like Genetics, Mechanization, Fertilizers and Pesticide formulation. These innovations engender increased food production and availability. Essentially, agri-tech is a disruptive technology contributing to small farmers’ success in Asia and the rest of the world as seen in the adoption of pervasive automation.

Pervasive automation

Pervasive automation is used to describe technology that reduces operator workload. It is another form and application of agri-tech in Asia, emerging as a buzz expression in the field of agricultural technology. Examples include the following:

  • Self Driving vehicles — Self-driving vehicles are revolutionizing the way agriculture is done. These vehicles can be programmed to perform tasks such as plowing fields, planting seeds, and spraying crops, freeing up farmers to focus on other tasks. They are also more efficient and precise than human-operated vehicles, reducing the amount of time and resources needed to complete a task.
  • Agricultural drones — Agricultural drones are becoming increasingly popular in the farming industry. These drones can be used for tasks such as crop monitoring, pest control, and precision farming. They can quickly cover large areas of land and provide farmers with real-time data and images of their crops, helping them make informed decisions about irrigation, fertilization, and pest control.
  • Weather forecasting tools — Weather forecasting tools are essential for successful farming. By accurately predicting the weather, farmers can plan their irrigation and planting schedules to ensure optimal crop growth. Advanced tools such as satellite imagery and sensors can provide detailed and accurate forecasts, helping farmers make the best use of their resources.
  • Satellite photography and sensors — Satellite photography and sensors are also valuable tools for agriculture. These technologies can provide farmers with high-resolution images and data about their crops, helping them identify problems and take corrective action. They can also be used to monitor soil moisture levels, helping farmers optimize irrigation schedules and save water.
  • Automated irrigation — Automated irrigation systems are becoming increasingly popular in agriculture. These systems can be programmed to deliver the right amount of water to crops at the right time, reducing the risk of over- or under-irrigation. This helps to improve crop yield and reduce water waste.
  • Aerial imaging — Aerial imaging is another valuable tool for agriculture. By using aerial photographs or videos, farmers can get a bird’s-eye view of their crops and identify problems such as pests, disease, or poor growth. This can help them take timely corrective action and improve crop yield.
  • Biotechnology — Biotechnology is playing an increasingly important role in agriculture. Through techniques such as genetic engineering and biotechnology, scientists are developing crops that are more resistant to pests, disease, and extreme weather conditions. This can help farmers increase crop yield and reduce the need for pesticides and other chemicals.
  • Smart farming — Smart farming is the use of advanced technologies such as sensors, data analytics, and artificial intelligence to optimize farming practices and improve crop yield. By collecting and analyzing data from various sources, farmers can make informed decisions about irrigation, fertilization, and pest control, helping them to reduce waste and improve the efficiency of their operations.
  • Automated irrigation — Automated irrigation systems are becoming increasingly popular in agriculture as a way to optimize the use of water resources and improve crop yield. These systems use sensors and computer-controlled valves to deliver the right amount of water to crops at the right time, reducing the risk of over- or under-irrigation. This helps to improve crop growth and reduce water waste. Automated irrigation systems can be programmed to take into account factors such as soil moisture levels, weather forecast, and crop type to deliver the optimal amount of water. They can also be remotely monitored and controlled, allowing farmers to make adjustments as needed. Overall, automated irrigation systems can help farmers save time, resources, and money while also improving the efficiency and sustainability of their operations.

Essentially agricultural technology innovates crop and animal production in areas of pest control, improved seed quality, and viability. Also, there is mechanization through the application of robotics in creating high-powered agricultural equipment.

Most Asian countries like India, China, and the Philippines have the support of their governments to continue with agricultural technology as a critical index for the future, which is where companies like Jiva come into play.

Jiva’s Impact

Jiva is a technology backed ecosystem that is driven by the vision to improve smallholder farmer livelihoods, at scale. This is done through a network of on-ground partners, who are supported by applications and intelligent systems, to help farmers overcome key farming challenges:

Jiva is a technology backed ecosystem that is driven by the vision to improve smallholder farmer livelihoods, at scale. This is done through a network of on-ground partners, who are supported by applications and intelligent systems, to help farmers overcome key farming challenges:

  • Finance: Small-scale farmers often face challenges of funding to run their farms and buy tools. We provide cash advances for the selling of inputs and purchasing of crops on a “buy now, pay later” system
  • Supplies: Access to farm supplies can be challenging for small-scale and rural farmers. Jiva bridges the gap between farm suppliers and farmers through the sale of high-quality inputs such as seeds, pesticides, etc.
  • Sales: Jiva creates a cooperative atmosphere with farmers where we purchase crops from farmers for fair prices, and in a transparent way.
  • Grow: Jiva creates an environment for growth as we create easy and fast access to farming supplies as well as swift sales of your farm produce. This creates room for farmers to focus on farming without worrying about the tedious activity of sales and access to quality supplies.

Agricultural technology, with all of its contribution to improving human existence and global agricultural practice has come to stay. So, now that you know everything about agritech through this article, you can make informed decisions on what aspects you would like to incorporate in your practice, farm, or company.

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Jiva

Jiva is on a mission to empower millions of farmers across the world with digital solutions built for their specific needs.