The future of agriculture: 10 technology trends
Agro.Club experts talk about popular and in-demand ag technologies that will determine the future of agriculture in the coming years.
Blockchain in the supply chain
Consumers are often curious about the origin and logistics of food products. Blockchain technology creates a secure system of records and interactions that can trace the path of produce from the field to the counter or table. This transparency also helps to detect the cause of food spoilage.
According to Statista, the value of blockchain in the food and agriculture market was about $140 million in 2020 and is projected to grow to about $1.5 billion by 2026.
Vertical and urban farming
As urban areas expand and arable land shrinks, vertical farming is emerging as a solution to the food crisis. It allows plants to be grown year-round on floors, in buildings, or in containers. On the plus side, it uses 75–90% less water (than traditional farming methods) and eliminates the need for pesticides and herbicides. On the downside, there are significant energy costs.
The vertical farming market size is expected to grow by USD 6.49 billion in 2026 as per Technavio market research report.
Precision farming and the IoT (Internet of Things)
Precision farming helps farmers make informed and technology-supported management decisions. For example, with the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is possible to collect information from soil sensors, weather stations, drones, and satellite images. The compiled data can be processed to make recommendations on how to optimize irrigation, apply the necessary fertilizers, or control pests. As a result, crop yields are increased, water and chemical use is minimized, and environmental impact is reduced.
According to a study by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), North American farmers who used precision farming technology increased crop productivity by 4%, improved fertilizer application efficiency by 7%, and reduced herbicide and pesticide use by 9%. Water and fuel consumption decreased by 4% and 6%, respectively.
In agriculture, drones can help monitor vast areas, analyze crop health, and even assist with planting. Drones can detect pest infestations, diseases, water shortages, and other problems before they cause irreparable damage to crops.
Biotechnology in agriculture has reached new heights through the use of gene editing tools. For example, scientists are altering DNA cell sequences and creating nutritious crops that are adapted to climate change and resistant to pests.
According to the ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications), in 2019, 72 countries adopted genetically modified crops by either planting or importing for food, feed, or processing.
Robotics and automation
Robots are used extensively in agriculture, from weeding to picking fruit or milking cows. Automation of routine processes solves the issue of labor shortages, ensures the accuracy of tasks, and increases efficiency and productivity.
For example, weeding robots using "computer vision" can reduce pesticide use by 90%. And one strawberry harvesting robot can harvest 25 acres in 3 days and replace dozens of workers.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms make it possible to analyze massive amounts of information at speeds beyond the reach of humans. Tailored to specific tasks, these technologies help farmers make decisions ranging from predicting diseases to determining appropriate planting and irrigation dates.
The microbiome revolution
The study of the interactions between plants and microorganisms in soil opens up new opportunities for agriculture. Research on the microbiome better explains the mechanisms of nutrient cycling in the soil and the impact of microorganisms on crops and the environment.
Digital marketplaces and mobile apps
Marketplaces and specialized mobile applications have become indispensable tools for farmers, providing access to additional resources and information. Digital marketplaces provide access to an expanded pool of partners and services such as field-specific weather, expert advice, industry news, and agri commodity markets.
According to BisResearch, the global market for digital agricultural marketplaces was valued at $10 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $22.8 billion in 2026.
Agritech and education
As modern agriculture becomes tech-oriented, some agricultural schools add courses on digital technologies to their basic education. Agriculture education grants can provide the resources for classroom instruction, hands-on field work, research opportunities, apprenticeships, and more. Public and private grants and subsidies for scientists and innovators in the agtech sector are being developed.
In our opinion, the future of farming, based on the above trends, has high potential. And the more accessible and efficient the technologies are, the sooner this future will become a reality.