The global population is projected to reach 9.7 Billion by 2050, which implies the demand for food will increase and the necessary resources for the agriculture sector such as water will further diminish. Furthermore, the agriculture sector also needs to face challenges such as climate change and increasing costs of labor and raw material.
As the Covid-19 pandemic intensifies these challenges, digital transformation can pave the way for agriculture businesses.
This article explores three ways how digital technologies are transforming the agriculture sector and enabling companies to face current challenges.
1. Increasing agricultural efficiency
Covid-19 revealed various weaknesses in the agricultural sector. For example, while supermarkets worldwide were facing stockouts, farms were destroying overproduced food. This mainly happened due to inefficiencies and lack of resilience within the agricultural supply chain, digital transformation can remedy that.
- Autonomous vehicles and AI: The global agricultural robotics market is projected to almost triple by 2050 to ~$21 Billion. Autonomous vehicles and smart farming bots are used for efficient harvesting. Automation in farming can lead to a significant reduction in waste, labor costs and can increase operational speed. Autonomous seeding and weeding vehicles leverage artificial intelligence to reduce pesticides in the fields.
- IoT in Irrigation: Irrigation systems such as SDI (Subsurface Drip Irrigation) that leverage IoT-enabled soil and weather sensors can detect moisture and supply the required water directly to the roots of the crop. These systems significantly increase efficiency in the process and reduce water consumption.
- IoT for Livestock management: IoT-enabled sensors can also be used to monitor temperature and humidity levels at the farm to provide information for maintaining the health of the livestock. Additionally, infrared devices can scan livestock feed and send nutritional reports directly to farmers’ mobiles.
- Leveraging Drones for field monitoring: Drones are a cheaper alternative to aerial helicopter analysis of farms. They provide efficient monitoring and analytics to the farmers regarding damage in the fields and soil conditions. This enables optimal decision-making at a reduced cost.
- Changing the organisational culture: Successfully implementing digital technology in any business requires not only the purchase of expensive software, it also requires the leadership to change the organizational culture. Workers can be hesitent in adapting to these new digital technologies and the executives need to make sure that they undertsand the goal of digital transformation and get adequate training.
2. Increasing agricultural resilience
As the climate and the pandemic create a more uncertain and volatile environment in the agricultural supply chains, digital technologies can help achieve lower uncertainty and higher resiliency.
- Data processing: Historical harvest data stored in the cloud can be analyzed to enable optimal future decision-making.
- Cloud solutions: Cloud applications can provide strong processing power to agriculture companies to use farm management systems and share data across the value chain.
- Big data analytics: Big data analytics can be used to analyze a vast amount of data on the changes in weather, consumer demand, inventory levels to balance supply and demand in the agricultural supply chain.
- E-commerce in agriculture: E-commerce platforms can bridge the gap between the farmers and the retail market. As a result, farmers can get up-to-date pricing information and get better control over the supply chain.
3. Improving agricultural sustainability
As shown in Figure 1, the agriculture sector remains one of the largest contributors to global GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. Digital technologies can help improve sustainability across the agricultural supply chain.
- Advanced telemetry systems for agricultural sustianability: These systems use GPS to provide accurate information on asset management and usage, including fuel usage, upcoming maintenance, and idle time to help make sustainable decisions.
- Smart Cattle Farms: IoT-enabled sensors can accurately monitor greenhouse gasses produced on the farm and use advanced analytics to present carbon emission reports and insights.
- Agricultural transparency: Blockchain technology has various implications for improving agricultural sustainability. Unaltered information regarding ethical practices and carbon emissions can be accessible across the supply chain allowing transparency and trust. The value of blockchain technology in the agriculture sector is projected to increase in the future significantly, as shown in Figure 2.
- Manage the carbon footprint: To learn how to efficiently calculate and reduce your carbon footprint, please read our articles: 4 Steps to Calculate the Carbon Footprint of Your Organization and 5 Ways to Reduce Corporate Carbon Footprint
Figure 1. Four main sources of global GHG emissions in 2020
Figure 2. Value of Blockchain in the agriculture market 2017 to 2028
To learn more about digital transformation, you can read the following:
- Digital Transformation for Telecoms in 2022: In-depth Guide
- Digital Transformation in Pharma: Key Technologies and Trends
You can also check our sortable/filterable list of digital transformation consulting companies to find the most suitable option according to your business needs.
If you have any questions about digital transformation in the agriculture sector, let us know:
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