Technology Talk: Is Smart Farming the Future of Agriculture?

by MWB News | Monday, Mar 27, 2017 | 321 views

Men using pesticides
One of the biggest challenges that the global agricultural sector faces is figuring out how to feed the 9.6 billion people that will populate the planet by 2050. In fact, experts say that food production needs to go up by 70 percent by the same year to feed everyone. This goal has to be met despite factors like the impact of climate change, the rising demand for fresh water, and the limited availability of arable fields if the population is to be supported.

Apart from using reliable farming equipment from agricultural machinery providers like, the industry can boost the quantity and quality of agricultural production by utilising sensing technology to make farms more efficient and intelligent. Precision agriculture — also known as ‘smart farming’ — would be the solution here.

Understanding Smart Farming

Smart Farming refers to the application of modern information and communication technologies in agriculture. It has the potential to offer a more sustainable and productive agricultural production process derived from a more resource-efficient and precise approach.

Smart Farming Processes already in Motion

Smart farming isn’t exactly a novel idea. In fact, farm offices and corporations have been applying this concept for some time now. By gathering a large amount of data related to crop yields, animal health, machinery, weather data, fertiliser application and soil mapping, farmers can better plan and maximise their harvest.

Making Agriculture more Efficient

Saverio Romeo, the co-author of a smart farming report, believes that the objective of smart farming is not about industrialising agriculture, but improving its quality, sustainability and efficiency. He further stresses that smart farming is not about looking for the next agricultural revolution. Instead, he wants people to utilise data-centric technologies to reinterpret farming practices. Moreover, people should put this reinterpretation within a new vision of rural areas.

Barriers of Implementing Smart Farming

While smart farming is beneficial, it still needs to get past a few hurdles before it becomes widespread. For one thing, finding investors for this innovation is tough as the agricultural sector has an extremely low net margin. In fact, smart farming installations are few and far in between. Thus, generating an appealing ROI figure is not easy.

There’s also a haemorrhage of labour caused by an image problem of farming. Romeo comments that people don’t see farmers as a cool job. He says that people see agriculture as something that belongs to ‘the grandfathers’.

Despite these obstacles, analysts are optimistic that people can eventually overcome these barriers. It will, however, require some time to do so given that the agricultural sector is not expanding at the same pace as other sectors.

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