Whilst the importance of the global agricultural sector is easy to overlook in the digital age, this industry currently employs a staggering 40% of the entire global workforce. It’s total worldwide production also peaks at around $5.084 billion, making it one of the most lucrative marketplaces anywhere across the globe.
If anything, the advent of advanced digital technology is enabling the agricultural sector to grow at an even faster rate, with farmers in Australia having already leveraged blockchain to execute contracts, track data and enhance the supply chain.
But what other technologies are helping agriculture to grow and become more sustainable? Here are four of the best:
Unlock Data Preserved in the Soil
Arguably, the data that’s most valuable to farmers lies in the land itself, and we’re finally seeing entities leverage this in detail.
The leader in this space is the Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS), which is developing continent-wide digital soil maps for sub-Saharan Africa. This technology utilises brand-new analysis and statistics, whilst the type of refractometer sold by RS Components can be used to measure concentrations and harness data.
The AfSIS projects has already forged partnerships with several international governments and academic institutions, who are constantly looking for ways to optimise agricultural efficiency (particularly in data-sparse regions) and drive greater sustainability.
Helping Agriculture to Move Indoors
Whilst Singapore is not renowned as a vast agricultural hub, much of its rocket, radish and baby spinach is cultivated locally. These items are also grown in the nation’s first licensed indoor vegetable farm, which has been built by the international electronics giant Panasonic.
Incredibly, this facility can produce and manage up to 3.6 tonnes of soil annually, whilst is has also inspired a spate of similar indoor farms across the globe.
From Sharp growing strawberries in Dubai to Sony developing clean-room facilities at semi-conductor plants in Japan to grow lettuce, agriculture is increasingly moving indoors and into tightly controlled environments.
What About Greens Fed on Rainbow Waste?
You’ve probably heard of hydroponics, which is a method of growing plants and food using mineral-enriched water. Aquaponics is an extension of this technology, and one that brings together fish and plant farming in a single recirculating system.
At the Bioaqua Farm in Somerset, vegetables can be grown in the same place that Rainbow Trout are reared, without the use of any chemicals or unwanted pesticides.
In fact, it’s the fish themselves that provide most of the plant nutrition, as their waste metabolites are removed by nitrification and then allowed to flow back seamlessly into the water.
Introducing Agriculture by Aircraft
Whilst drones are most commonly associated with military and espionage applications, they’re also beginning to have a huge impact on a variety of different sectors.
These include agriculture, with unmanned aerial drones now being used to provide conservation support in the form of supplies and direct farming assistance.
The Munich-based Quantum-Systems entry also refers to a transition aircraft that combines the capabilities of a multicopter and a fixed-wing model, creating a vehicle that allows farmers to adopt more precise fertilisation strategies across the board.
More specifically, the use of drones utilises accurate flight-planning software and the evaluation of real-time crop conditions, improving both efficiency and sustainability across the board.