For as long as people have been farming, farmers have always been trying to improve the work they do through technology. This is of course extremely important as farming provides sustenance for over 7 billion people worldwide. The ability to increase crop yields while maintaining low input levels will become more and more important as the population is predicted to grow to over 10 billion people in the next decades.
Farming is one of the sectors that experiences the highest variability in production due to the many factors involved. To better manage such variables, farmers rely on a mix of historical and real-time data to make timely, informed, and precise decisions. Data collected through AI and IoT can be a vital resource for farmers, helping them monitor plant growth and health. Farmers exploit this data to ensure operations run seamlessly and at a speed and scale unattainable exclusively through manual labour. Every year machines are deployed throughout each step of the farming cycle, and as they perform their jobs, they’re gathering a vast amount of information. These insights are gathered year-over-year help farmers make the most informed decision possible.
Data collection on farms is particularly complex because key data might come from places that are hard to reach or offer challenges to human perception. Furthermore, farmers must do multiple jobs simultaneously. These problems are easily solved through connected machines that provide real time data. Advanced sensors and AI can help “see” beyond human capacity and monitor complex systems effectively while also gathering important data. Farmers can leverage this data to make smart decisions throughout the life of a single crop, knowing its exact position and overall planting conditions. Data-driven planters may be used to vary the rate and depth at which they plant seeds to eliminate overuse.
These machines are also able to self-steer themselves, precisely place seeds and develop accurate geospatial data insights. In the next stage of crop growth an advanced spraying technology could treat each plant individually, managing the exact amount of nutrients needed to protect the plant. Farmers are then able to monitor the growth remotely. Once crops are ready to be harvested, the powerful combination of data and technology could help precisely separate grains from the rest of the plant without damaging the kernel.
Additionally, predictive and preventative maintenance is enabled by collecting and monitoring machine data. This can help equipment dealers detect any issues proactively and from faraway locations, providing support in many cases before a problem is even noticed. Many updates and fixes can be done over the air and downtime can be kept to a minimum.
Big data is and will continue to be key in producing quality food sustainably to sustain the world’s growing population. Technology and analytics, combined with a farmer’s experience and determination, have the power to transform a network of fields into an efficient and highly profitable business. Thanks to these advancements in data and analytics, the future of farming has never looked so bright.