Agtech: Innovating in the Farming Industry
The role of the agricultural sector in the daily operating procedure of the world is difficult to overestimate. Agribusiness holds strategic positions by supporting the well-being of people all around the globe by regularly providing food and essential goods. That’s exactly why the development of the agricultural sector is a pillar of any nation’s economic security.
In this article, we will consider and review the best Agtech trends — the most recent and most popular practices and how they are being implemented in modern agricultural technology. We’ll also try to answer the question of why it is necessary to develop new solutions and more actively implement successful old solutions within the industry.
Why is Agtech development so important?
The importance of the development of the agricultural sector is explicitly confirmed by the significant percentage of the population whose job is related in some way or another to agriculture, as well as its proportion of the total gross national product in a country. These two specific parameters reflect the state of the agricultural business in a country. They fluctuate on a yearly basis, however, depending on a number of factors, including global economic policies and the level of support the government provides for the rural population.
One of the most obvious ways to develop the agricultural sector is a comprehensive automation of essential labor and working processes. The niche is increasingly becoming more ‘equipped’ with numerous software-based solutions. Let’s give a brief Agtech market overview, figure out which particular issues software products have helped to solve, and find out how reasonable the implementation of specialized Agtech software is as a whole.
The ways Agtech is employed in agriculture today
To give a brief overview of the Agtech market, we’ll highlight the most popular modern trends in agriculture that are extensively supported by technology.
Centralized Resource and Workflow Management
The owners of farms have found it necessary to increase their expenses and lose significant money throughout the years due to the wide variety of difficult to manage working processes necessary agricultural businesses, which must be kept constant and interconnected nearly all the time. Today, such problems can be solved with the help of special software that automates a large portion of the business manager’s responsibilities and optimizes labor, power, and other expenses. Centralized solutions are most commonly used in accounting and for resource optimization, but they can also help build and coordinate various processes.
Prediction and Analysis
The main goal of startups in this niche is to collect data, structure it, and, based on the analysis conducted, provide farmers with precise predictions which can be used to plan future labor needs. Such software solutions help efficiently eliminate existing issues and thoroughly plan workflows to be able to increase performance with lower resource consumption in the future. Such startups also help save consumables and minimize the risks typical of farm management.
Extraction of Data from the Soil, Water, and Other Natural Resources
As a rule, these startups are based on the Internet of Things concept. They gather data extracted from natural resources, the fluctuations of which directly influence the well-being of agricultural plants and animals.
Extraction of Data from Farm Animals and Plants
Similar to the last point, projects in this field provide an all-around and thorough analysis of the vital signs of cattle and crops.
This is quite an extensive niche that in farming implies, among other things, the part of robotics that automates labor processes that don’t involve the human factor (for example, autowatering systems and automatic sprinklers that can autonomously spread water over the dozens and hundreds of hectares of land while consuming liquid resources economically). This also involves drones — flying pilotless devices that help scan large territories and promptly deliver certain necessary resources (manure, for example).
Farms of the New Generation
The new generation farms almost completely exclude human involvement in their daily routines by automating everything possible. As opposed to the previous type of solutions, this category includes highly complex new developments. A team of dispatchers can manage such a farm (no need for a full staff of employees) while the management elements based on the software controllers require a system administrator to be in charge rather a farmer. Generally speaking, such projects are built on the vision that agribusiness is a wholesome closed food value chain system. That’s why there are integrated solutions for each part of the system.
Marketplaces for the Agricultural Sector
These startups are marketplaces where product items are agricultural goods. It is a niche that is in high demand, as in many countries, farmers don’t have the slightest idea of where to look for customers (and oftentimes get scammed). In turn, such eCommerce solutions allow both customers and suppliers to make secure deals and lower the financial risks associated with agricultural transactions.
Farming GPS Equipment
The GPS equipment for farming includes a direction indicator, driving systems, autopilot, and many other features. It emcompasses everything that allows agricultural vehicles to be efficiently controlled and directed.
Software products of this kind can be helpful to farmers who own extensive land territories in their farming premises — starting at a thousand hectares. They help precisely calculate the budget necessary for the processing of the available landmass.
Farmers have started to express an active interest in automated meteo stations. Recently, prices for such equipment has increasingly been dropping (four years ago, an average price for a meteo station was $4 thousand–today it would cost half that). The meteo stations capture weather indications, statistics, and calculate meteorological ratios. Based on these data points, a risk index of cattle and plants getting sick or infected may be calculated
The reasonability of Agtech implementation: what is the future of farming without high-end tech?
The future of farming, similar to any other business industry, depends on the integration of high-end technologies and centralized management capabilities. Very soon, only the companies prepared to rapidly transform their business by working with IT specialists will stay ‘alive’ and well on the market.
Despite new innovations in Agtech investment trends requiring a healthy budget, the smart agriculture market size is gradually growing. Many countries regularly implement more reasonable tax policies for farmers and try to support their cause. That’s why we have completely positive predictions that even small-scale farms will somehow manage the transition to the IT era.
As you can see, the market size of agriculture technology is growing, and agricultural trends are involving more and more different aspects of the agricultural industry. Some are quite affordable while others require significant financial investment. But in any case, in a few years, the integration of advanced technologies with existing workflows will be crucial for the survival of farming businesses faced with tough competition.
If you have your own idea for a startup involving Agtech and are looking for a good company to partner with, let’s work together!
Originally published at softmedialab.com on October 1, 2018.