What is smart farming and why do we need it?
We are frequently asked to translate documentation for agriculture service providers, farmers and key players involved in animal husbandry and food production. Let’s take a look at a new trend – smart farming.
There are two scenarios developing at the same time. On the one hand, the world’s population is increasing at an exponential rate. This puts a lot of pressure on the agricultural industry. Farmers and agronomists around the world are in a rush to find the most efficient ways to produce food for everyone
On the other hand, technology is expanding at an equally fast pace. The Internet of Things is rapidly spreading through our lives. A huge digital network connects the most unthinkable devices and objects together. Several industries are incorporating Artificial Intelligence to optimise their operations and processes.
Smart farming systems stand at the conjunction of these two scenarios. Environmental challenges are major obstacles to effective crop production and soil management. At this stage, technological advances might be the only way to reverse the damage. In this post, we will explain smart farming and its potential to change the world.
What is smart farming?
Smart farming is the application of technology in the management of farm activities. It implies using cutting-edge hardware and software solutions for the collection of data. New methodologies gather data from historical, geographical and instrumental sources. This is then organized, analysed and monitored by farmers and researchers. Access to data is available at any time, from anywhere in the world.
The proper use of digital tools can increase the quality and quantity of agricultural production. It can also optimise the use of resources such as water, land, fertilisers and even human labour. As technology progresses, the applications of e-farming diversify. Some of the most significant ones thus far are:
Farmers incorporate satellite imagery to monitor climate conditions and make remote site assessments. This is called precision agriculture, and it helps predict vital information about the soil, weather, pests, weeds, irrigation and drainage. High-tech tools make it possible to draw detailed, localised maps of the topography and temperature of the soil by square metre. The efficient use of this information enables the optimisation of farming practices to save costs, reduce the use of fertilisers and minimise the environmental impact. Smart farming techniques are also be implemented for livestock feeding, tracking and geofencing. Precision livestock farming allows farmers to access real-time information such as the location and health of each animal individually. This is called herd recording and can be used to control vaccinations, hormonal levels, reproductive cycles, weight gain and loss to supervise their performance, prevent diseases and adjust nutrition depending on each particular needs.
The use of ground-based and aerial drones to collect multispectral, thermal and visual imagery is very helpful for field analysis and statistical predictions. Both large and small farms can benefit from surveying the land by improving their operations according to the measured metrics. Drones can also perform tasks including but not limited to planting and spraying crops, and fighting pests and infections.
Automated farm equipment
Automated feeding systems, driverless tractors, computerised crop seeding and fertiliser applications; these are just some examples of IoT-powered farm equipment. Microchips to control engines and machine functions are already widely used.
Smart greenhouses connected to IoT make it possible to manipulate the environment to reduce waste and energy loss, and also minimize labour costs. Digital sensors provide accurate information on greenhouse conditions such as lighting, temperature, soil condition and humidity. Weather stations are able to automatically adjust the temperature and manage irrigation, spraying and lighting systems remotely.
Smart logistics and storage
Smart farming applied to logistics and warehousing has a positive impact in the cost effectiveness of agricultural production. There are systems in place for the monitoring of container conditions and food shipments. Farm software and other computer applications in agriculture facilitate record keeping and the estimation of revenue and productivity.
The benefits of smart farming
The agricultural industry is facing rapidly increasing challenges such as inclement weather, soil deterioration and poor water infiltration. Smart farming innovations are already optimising the use of natural resources, developing renewable energy sources and applying more sustainable methodologies. IoT for agriculture offers endless opportunities for farmers to improve the overall efficiency of their farming practices while lowering their environmental impact.
The collected data can be used to strategically adjust agricultural management systems and better control processes. Farmers can monitor the health of crops and cattle, improve equipment accuracy, and even improve working conditions. There are many examples of smart farming currently being used to preserve water and increase productivity. In addition, all the time saved thanks to the automatisation of processes can be invested in improving other areas, such as consumer experience and food security.
On the backend, IoT can help to optimise the supply chain by tracking inputs, equipment and products. This helps businesses to anticipate problems, monitor manufacturing cycle times, and forecast demand to reduce inventory and capital requirements.
The future of smart farming
Smart farming is the driving force of an expected Third Green Revolution, which follows the plant breeding and genetics revolutions. In this opportunity, information and communication technologies are combined to enhance productivity and sustainability. The future of agriculture might be a more precise, safe and resource-efficient industry.
Within this context emerges e-agriculture, a field that encompasses agricultural informatics, development, business and other related technological sectors. A lot of thinking is going into overcoming certain limitations such as the lack of network infrastructure, training and skills, and research priorities.
One of the main challenges that comes with investing in IoT for agriculture is the risk of leakage of sensitive information. Farmers are concerned with ownership, privacy and security issues arising in relation to the data stored in cloud-based services. Technological advances seem to develop faster than the information security standards. The future of smart farming includes the development of solutions to guarantee the safety of critical data.
If you’re looking for translation services relating to e-agriculture, smart farming or any other aspect of farming, please get in touch.