Smart Farming, or known as Smart Agriculture is mainly associated with the term Third Green Revolution due to its sustainability and circular economy features that emphasises on the application of ICT solution in the agriculture industry.
Itrepresents the application of modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and IoT solutions into farming to increase the efficiency of agricultural operations. Smart farming entails the obtaining of real time data of soil, air, and crops, aiming at increasing the quality and quantity of agricultural production while protecting the environment.
By using Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, software and hardware, robotics, sensors and more, the entire smart farming concept promotes circular economy, thus leads to sustainability farming.
Coping with Crop Production Loss
Smart Farming concept first came about when the realization of production and food loss figure surges despite numerous measures applied in the crop field. In crop production for developing nation, a total of 32% of production loss occurs while 38 percent is loss in consumption in developed nation.
This poses as a major threat to the human population as these losses would have been enough to feed one billion people! In a report by McKinsey, global food waste and loss is worth $940 billion a year, followed by carbon footprint of 4.4 Gt, that is at least 8 percent more than that of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Adding to the pollution is urban development and farming as well as plantation, of which contributed quite a substantial amount to GHG emissions where agriculture sector alone emits about 17-30 percent of GHG globally. Not only that, it also results in emitting 250 cubic km of blue-water footprint. All these adds up to a food waste of 1.4 billion hectares– an area bigger than U.S. and U.K combined.
In addition to the loss, by year 2050, the global world will break 10 billion people and the need to feed them would spike. Therefore, if agricultural crops does not increase massively in the next 10 years, more than one billion people may face starvation. In no time, hunger would be the world’s most urgent problem.
Thanks to the geniuses who came out with the revolutionary smart farming concept that aims to resolve the challenges of crop and consumption loss as well as food waste. From crops monitoring and applying precise measuring variations and strategies within a field, farmers now could have access in real time over their crops and increase their productivity.
Precision Agriculture or Farming
As rightly pointed out by Sciforce, there are two technology fields in smart farming, namely precision agriculture and agricultural automation and robotics. However, there is another part of smart farming that is of crucial importance, and that is the management information system. The future of farmers now lies within these three technologies.
While precision agriculture, also known as precision farming tends to be one of the most popular applications of IoT in the agricultural sector and numerous organizations are leveraging on this technique around the world, it is a farming practice or method that enables the crops growing and livestock raising to be more controlled and accurate. This form of agricultural management uses IT and multiplehardware such as sensors, control systems, robots, autonomous automobile, automated hardware, variable rate technology to chart crops’ growth rate.
Some companies have started to mobilise precision farming management into their farms and one good example of this is DSTE Capital Limited who through technology such as virtual optimizer PRO combines various technologies for water management into one central, cloud-based and powerful location designed for consultants and growers to take advantage of the benefits of precision irrigation via a simplified interface. Not only that, it also provides products and services such as Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) optimization, soil moisture probes and so ontomaximise profitability on irrigated crop fields with topography or soil variability, improve yields, and optimises water use efficiency.
Robotics and Automation
Meanwhile, drones and sensors are key components of agriculture robotics and automation. The invention of drones help farmers to keep intact with their crops without having to worry about what would happen to their crops. It also keeps track of the condition of their crops during weather change.
Another popular part of agriculture automation is weather stations that combines various smart farming sensors. The sensors is very useful to gather data and send it to a specific cloud server. The data will be processed and catalogued for the use of mapping strategies to counter the weather, increase productivity and reduce GHG emissions.
Management Information System
Among the three, this section probably provides the most value as it will determine the result of crop production. Currently, in smart farming, some farmers have started to use Global Positioning System (GPS) to help them in terms of field visibility and data information gathering. It pin points agriculture land’s exact location regardless of any visibility blockage such as rain or fog. Coupled with Geographic Information System (GIS) that analyses real-time database, it assists farmers to make informed decision and be more efficient in agricultural practices and management.
A good MIS will help to manage production costs and time more efficiently.
With the new technologies mentioned above, it is no doubt that smart farming is the future of agriculture industry that is circular and sustainable at the same time. It is hoped that more new technologies will emerge to elevate smart farming unto next level in the near future.