There is no denying that farms have always produced data. However, throughout agriculture’s 10,000-year history, most of it has remained out of reach for the farmers. Therefore, managing farms efficiently became more and more difficult. Presently, the new digital tools help farmers to access these insights to harness unprecedented opportunities for their farms. This is where digital farming solutions come in. With the power of data at your fingertips, farmers can address evolving challenges in a much better way. Whether it is about helping to ensure global food security, fighting climate change, or conserving precious natural resources, the right data can help with everything.
What are the Growing Trends of Digital Farming?
Digital farming solutions are widespread in most of the countries around the world, especially where the use of technology is prevalent. The same technologies are used globally, including sensors, aerial vehicles, communication networks, robotic machinery, and other AI technologies. The best thing about digital farming is that it is useful irrespective of the size of the farm. The benefits of digital agriculture can be reaped by small-scale and large-scale farmers. It is not only on farms but also in agricultural research laboratories and universities focusing on agri-tech. Small-scale farmers like digital farming solutions because it helps them decide the best ways to increase productivity, like cow’s milk production, produce healthy calves and improve crop yields.
Why is the Adoption of Digital Agriculture Gaining Popularity?
The digital farming solution is gaining popularity in the industry because it is highly effective. The popular programs include:
• Feed management software
• Dairy record software and milk meters
• Yield mapping software
• GPS guidance systems
• Variable-rate application of inputs
The programs come together to offer farmers insights that were not possible before. The result is much better for the animals and farms as well.
Conditions for Digital Transformation in Agriculture
There are certain terms that shape the digital transformation of agriculture from different perspectives. The basic conditions are the minimum requirements for the use of technology that include the availability, affordability, connectivity, and supporting policies and programs for digital strategies. The enabling conditions are the factors that facilitate the technology adoption, use of the internet, digital skills, mobile phones, and support for your agricultural and innovative culture. These include talent development and sprint programs like hackathon, incubator, and accelerator programs.
Possible Challenges Digital Innovations in Agriculture
• Small Lands – Small lands can be a crucial challenge to implement digital farming solutions.
• Rental and Distribution Methods – Limited financial resources, small farm plots, renting and sharing platforms instead of directly buying equipment and machinery like tractors and harvesters.
• Slow Uptake and Understanding of Technology – Basic computer skills/technological literacy can be a major obstacle to the rapid development of agri-tech.
Why Should a Farm Adopt Digital Innovation in Agriculture?
Did you know? The world must produce 56% more food by 2050 to feed 9 billion people in the future. Also, the world will face conflicting challenges like climate change, malnutrition, food waste, and dietary changes. Therefore, to create a “sustainable food future,” the world must increase food production by reducing GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and maintaining and optimizing the land used in agriculture.
On-Farm Efficiency – On the farm, precision farming technologies can reduce the input needed for a product. For instance, the Variable Rate Application technologies can help in applying the right amount of water, pesticide, fertilizer, and herbicide to avoid over usage and waste.
Off-Farm/Market Efficiency – The technologies used in digital agriculture can help in making the agricultural markets much more efficient. Mobile phones, online ICTs (Information and communication technologies), e-commerce platforms, digital payment systems, and other digital agricultural technologies can reduce market failures and reduce transaction costs throughout the value chain.
Reducing Information Asymmetry – Price information is a crucial factor that affects the performance of competitive markets because it affects price dissemination, arbitrage and the well-being of the consumers and farmers. With digital farming solutions, as a farmer, you will have a plethora of data to ensure the best production of crops. The better quality of crops you produce, the higher the chances of making a profit.
Digital farming solutions offer farmers with timely access to innumerable valuable insights so that they can adopt the best practices and manage their fields much more efficiently. Thus, it reduces losses and increases profits. Agricultural technology offers a wide array of solutions to adopt digital farming. Digital agricultural technologies include IoT sensors, computer imaging, and drones. The physical devices on the farms will monitor and record data that is used to gain insights. Because of the advances in satellite imagery, data storage in the cloud, machine learning, and predictive analytics software has become quite popular because it is highly scalable and easy to use.
All these technologies bring valuable information for farming, right from data collection to management and processing, guidance, and direction. The integrated system offers new insights that increase the ability to make decisions and then implement them. As a result, digital agriculture brings significant benefits to farmers and wider social benefits worldwide. It also enables organizations to share information within traditional industry boundaries that helps to open new opportunities.
Use of Digital Farming Solutions Among Farmers and Rural Populations
Literacy and the availability of digital skills and technologies influence the use of digital innovations. However, the most important component to open up the possibilities of using digital technologies is to access the internet. Even though half of the world’s population uses the internet, it is disproportionate in developed countries. Education and income levels determine how people use the internet. People with higher education levels use more advanced services like e-commerce and online financial and government services.
In the rural areas where the education and literacy rates are lower in general, smartphones are used for communication and social media. Low smartphone ownership in rural areas, high internet costs and limited network coverage also pose a challenge to the use of mobile farming applications.
If digital farming technologies can be utilized properly in rural areas and the farmers are made aware of the benefits of digital farming solutions, it will help them increase productivity, reduce environmental impact and improve livelihoods.
To learn more about digital farming solutions including digital, high resolution topsoil mapping, reach out to the team here at SoilOptix!