What Is Agriculture Mechanization and How Does It Benefit Crop Productivity According to Sanjeev Mansotra?
What is Agriculture Mechanization?
The term agriculture mechanization or mechanized agriculture refers to the use of machines to farm. Before the industrial revolution took flight, farming was mostly done using human labor and animals like horses, cattle, and mules. As the technologies used to build machines matured, tools like the tractor (a mechanized plow) entered the agricultural industry.
Historically, mechanized agriculture referred to machines that conducted actual farming activities like tilling, planting, and harvesting. Today, agriculture mechanization has become a broad term that encompasses everything from farming activities, to how produce is transported, stored and processed and even how these processes work (i.e., through software). With this broader terminology, aspects like agritech, robotics, and machine learning are also considered a part of mechanized agriculture.
So, are all the gains mechanized agriculture brought still valid? Is the mechanization trend leading farming to greater heights of productivity or has it plateaued? In this article, Sanjeev Mansotra, a business owner, entrepreneur, and investor weighs in on the conversation. He explores the benefits of mechanized farming from a current and future perspective while giving insights on where mechanized farming will go over the next decade.
Benefits of Agriculture Mechanization According to Sanjeev Mansotra
Mechanized farming has doubtless brought about a lot of progress in the agricultural sector. However, these benefits have come at a cost — a cost to labor and a cost to smallholder farms. As mechanized farming becomes more sophisticated, will these downsides become neutralized? Here are eight advantages of this type of farming that hold the promise of transforming farming into an even more sustainable and profitable venture.
Global agricultural output has spectacularly grown thanks to mechanization. For instance, in Russia, mechanization helped grow output by 100% in the mid-sixties, a feat that would not have been possible without mechanization. Today, production continues to grow as more sophisticated machines like robots and algorithms contribute to the farming effort.
Enables Precision Farming
Precision farming is only possible in scenarios where humans collaborate with machines and algorithms. Through precision farming, farmers can measure and manage even the smallest variables in their crops to help increase yield and reduce spoilage. Tools like satellites and drones are also used in mechanized precision farming.
Boosts Human Efficiency
To illustrate how mechanization has transformed human efficiency, consider a farmer with three horses pulling a plow. He is effectively operating a 3-horsepower machine. Comparatively, a farmer with a 30 HP tractor, is controlling the equivalent of 30 horses in one machine. This doubtless will make the tractor owner more efficient than the horse owner.
Increases Yield Rate
Yield is the amount of product generated per unit of land. Without machines, yield rates are typically low because of the limitations of maximizing yield rate. With machines plowing, planting, applying fertilizer, and harvesting, it is possible to increase yield rates many times over.
Lowers Production Costs
Labor and farm inputs are the two major costs in farming. Mechanization drives down the cost of both. With labor, machines can complete in a matter of hours what a small army of farm hands would take days to complete. This drastically cuts down the cost of running a farm. Also, with machines, there’s less wastage of farm inputs like fertilizer and seeds, which also helps lower production costs.
Supports Commercial Farming
Commercial farming would be a fantasy without mechanization. When you consider corn fields that stretch as far as the eye can see, such vast stretches of land would be very difficult to farm without machines. Today, however, machines make it easy to carry out large-scale farming activities.
Better Land Utilization
Mechanization is crucial in land utilization. Without machines, farmers would have to depend on subsistence farming techniques that make it hard to utilize farmland fully. However, with mechanization, farmers can focus on maximizing land utilization, resting assured they will find a market for their crops.
Increases Farm Income
Farming, like any business, relies on the bottom line — profit. For farming to be a lucrative venture worth the effort, farmers need to make a good return on their investment. Thanks to mechanization, farmers can increase production while simultaneously lowering costs, a scenario that makes farming a viable business to pursue.
Agriculture mechanization is at the heart of the agrarian revolution. However, we are now faced with a new revolution, one where software will play an even more central role in farming. Consider a future where algorithms are the farmers, and we humans are merely the consumers. That, says Sanjeev Mansotra, is the future of mechanized agriculture.