September 26, 2022NewsTrending
We’ve come a long way since tilling the first patch of land and learning to raise livestock. Now, society has discovered and developed ingenious agricultural methods that would have been impossible decades ago. The innovations keep coming, and it doesn’t look like they’re slowing down any time soon. Here are some of the top agriculture industry trends we’re seeing for 2022 and the years to come.
1. Precision Agriculture
With a potful of soil, seeds for planting, water, and a little bit of time, there’s a pretty good chance that you can reap the fruits of your labour. But a sustainable, reliable way of getting high-yield crops at a much larger scale requires a more complicated procedure. It becomes a balancing act of what types of nutrients or resources to use, where to apply them, and in what quantity.
Precision agriculture is the science of collecting and analyzing data to drive the decisions about cultivating land and improving crop yield. It takes the best that modern technology has to offer and incorporates it into the fundamentals of agriculture.
The earliest emergence of what came to be precision agriculture was around the time global positioning satellite (GPS) systems became available. Satellite imaging allows the creation of site-specific maps that indicate precise information about yield, topography, soil nutrient levels, and much more. Knowing the specific conditions of particular locations allows for variable-rate inputs, optimizing the amount of work and resources.
2. Predictive Analytics
Agriculture is typically considered a traditional practice. However, that’s not to say it’s exempt from evolving and benefiting from modern innovations. Predictive analytics, for example, is a technology with limitless applications, proving useful across various industries, especially agriculture.
In simple terms, predictive analytics works by taking in large amounts of data based on many different variables. It can apply to both the production aspects of agriculture and the market analysis side of things.
Predictive analytics in agronomic production relates a lot to how precision agriculture works. Historical data from the performance of a farm is taken and analyzed to extrapolate future decisions. For example, information from sensors across the farm tells you when and which types of nutrients to apply.
The other application of predictive analytics takes more from an economist’s point of view. Fluctuations in market prices for specific crops directly affect the value of work put into cultivating crops. The ability to have a sense of future price forecasts plays a strategic role in maintaining supply stability and satisfying demand.
3. Urban Farming
The most recognizable drawback of agriculture is that it requires a massive chunk of land. Modernization and increasing populations have made it even more challenging to get a sizable land area for cultivation.
A practical solution that’s starting to gain traction is going vertical. While it’s impossible to expand the ground beneath us, there’s no stopping from building layers onto it. Urban farming through vertically stacking crops indoors looks to help increase food production, particularly in areas with limited resources. Crops can be grown regardless of the season in controlled indoor conditions.
Another benefit of urban farming is providing fresh local produce to consumers. Compared to traditionally grown produce, those grown on urban farms are typically just a few miles away from stores. It cuts the need for long transport and allows a more direct path to the consumer.
4. Crop Scouting
Traditional agriculture relies heavily on the quality of the land. Crop scouting, also known as field scouting, refers to observing the state of a field. It’s the action of travelling through sections of land to note any growing patterns or telltale signs of concern.
While crop scouting has been around for the longest time, more advanced and efficient ways are becoming available. What used to be done on foot or using a vehicle has now gone aerial, literally offering a bird’s eye view of the land.
Using drones is becoming one of the main options for aerial crop scouting. Drones typically deliver a sharper image resolution. Compared to manually-driven aircraft, they can fly at lower altitudes while equipped with high-quality cameras. Drones also offer better flexibility in terms of light and weather conditions.
5. Regenerative Agricultural Practices
Recent news about climate change shows overwhelming evidence that the damage is worsening. With one-fourth of global emissions coming from agriculture and deforestation, focusing on more sustainable practices becomes more important than ever. One of the potential ideas is whether we can capture that carbon in the land instead of being up in the atmosphere.
Regenerative agriculture is a broad definition to describe practices that aim to restore the soil’s carbon content. The goal is to harness the carbon absorbed by plants from the atmosphere. The ground then acts as a natural repository for carbon. Aside from capturing carbon, soil nutrient levels also improve, which reduces the need for artificial enhancers.
Regenerative farming practices also include no-till agriculture. Contrary to conventional tillage, the soil is not turned over in no-till farming. This practice reduces soil erosion and allows better water absorption. In turn, this increases the nutrients in the ground. Other methods aiming for healthier soil include diverse crop rotations and planting cover crops.
Over the past decades, we’ve learned much about good and not-so-good practices in enriching the soil. Some of these lessons we had to learn the hard way.
There’s a growing preference to move away from chemical-based substances in cultivating produce. The use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides is shown to pose a greater risk to both plant and consumer health. Biofertilizers are an alternative to chemical-based products. They instead contain living organisms that promote the conditions required for the healthy development of plants.
The microorganisms in biofertilizers promote the production of nutrients to improve and maintain soil fertility. They convert atmospheric nitrogen into nitrites and nitrates that are more readily available for plants. Some types of biofertilizers also act as agents that reduce the risk of plant diseases.
7. Focusing on Water Use
As with the carbon footprint, there has been an emerging concern about water utilization. While it’s true the Earth’s surface is about 71% water, less than 3.5% is not in the form of oceans. A big chunk of freshwater usage goes into agricultural irrigation. And with food demands rising, water usage will not be slowing down soon.
Innovations in other industries are also becoming relevant in improving water utilization and waste elimination. Artificial intelligence, for example, is proving to be a solution to optimize irrigation schedules and distribution. Improvements in maintenance practices, such as the utilization of cloud technology, have also changed the way we react to breakdowns. Leaks and malfunctioning systems can now be picked up by sensors automatically. They can then communicate to a central command centre through the internet.
There is no single solution to reducing water usage in agriculture. And with an estimated 70% of the global water usage going into irrigation, there’s a lot of room for improvement. The good news is new ways with promising results keep coming up.
8. Asset Operations Management
Sometimes it can seem as if all the new predictive technologies are only viable for massive agricultural operations. With Asset Operations Management, any agricultural organization or operation can reap the benefits of enterprise-grade functionality. This means easier work management, deeper reporting and analytics, better use of resources, and greater visibility and control.
Seasonal and market readiness can make or break a farm. Because of this, many farms will turn to Asset Operations Management to meet their maintenance, reliability, and operations needs in 2022.