The agriculture industry today faces a set of unprecedented challenges, centered on adapting to the needs of a changing world: Feeding the world’s growing population with minimal new land use.
Digital Transformation help organizations within the agriculture sector to improve productivity, ensure faster time to market, operate a streamlined supply chain and reduce cost of operations.
Despite industry advances in the early 20th century, global crop yields cannot keep pace with the growing demand. In order to overcome this challenge, while protecting the earth’s precious natural resources, the agricultural industry must embrace the new wave of technological innovation. Advanced technologies such as big data, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), analytics, drones, and more are rapidly transforming every aspect of agricultural operations.
Agricultural technology has developed significantly over the past few years, and continues to develop rapidly. However, the level of adoption of technology across the industry is mixed, and this often comes down to three key areas: cost, complexity and capabilities. The potential for AgriTech to disrupt can vary across the value chain – in many instances supplementing or complimenting existing products/solutions, and in others replacing them entirely. This disruption can bring about positive changes in agricultural productivity and efficiency, as well as cause a ripple effect: forcing behavioural change that ultimately leads to changes in the traditional operating models and ways of working.
Digitization in agriculture – Agriculture 4.0
What is known as Agriculture 4.0 is nothing but the application of Digitalization processes and the evolution to Industry 4.0 within the primary sector.
Looking to the Future
There are many different applications for technology in agriculture, and there are some key growth opportunities that businesses should look to grasp now:
- Big data analytics – building diverse and big data sets
- Rapid detection methods
- Advanced food safety software – interfacing with tracking and traceability
- Emerging technology innovations – automation and robotics
The rising demand of this population will put pressure on the agriculture industry to ensure production and a sustainable environment while optimizing costs. Though the food processing & agriculture industry is plagued with a unique set of challenges, it is steadily becoming more consolidated and integrated, as new government and stakeholder investments grow.
Investments in this new wave of technology are increasingly investments in digital transformation.
Digital transformation is a new way of thinking and operating that starts with the way firms enable customers to interact with them, establishing connections that extend well beyond the purchase of a product. At its core, digital transformation requires systems of intelligence. Digital feedback loops that enable organizations to draw better insight out of data, and convert that data to intelligent decisions and action. And it isn’t simply about technology—systems of intelligence represent the combination of technology, people, and process that enable these feedback loops and define an organization’s competitiveness and ability to change an entire industry landscape. It’s about seizing the opportunity to fundamentally change product and service offerings and to expand into new business models.
Digital Transformation in Agriculture
Digital transformation has a key role to play in the food processing ecosystem. Better use of technology will alter the way businesses work and the way producers use information and data to maximise production value. The ecosystem is complex with many transfer points throughout the process – from raw materials, processing and quality tests, through to distribution.
Perhaps one of the most innovative pieces of the digital transformation is the ability to use machine learning and advanced analytics to mine data for trends. This can start way before the planting of the seed, with plant breeders.
If the benefits are to truly be reaped across the industry, technology needs to be adopted from the farmer all the way through to the retailer. With global demand continuing to increase, it has never been more vital for businesses across the value chain to consider tackling these challenges and changes now.
After crops are harvested, RFID sensors can be used to track food from the field to the store. This technology could increase trustworthiness for manufacturers and their responsibility to provide fresh produce and goods.
Drones that produce 3D imaging can be used to predict soil quality through analysis and planning seed planting patterns. Drones are also being used to spray chemicals on crops while being careful not to penetrate groundwater.
Much like using robots and artificial intelligence in other industries, robotics within agriculture would improve productivity and would result in higher and faster yields. It can reduce agrochemical use by 90%.
The introduction of Agriculture 4.0 has produced a new term to describe those companies using this new and much more technified model: the Agritech sector. Companies in this sector are adopting new methodologies such as the Precision Agriculture. Basically, according to the European Parliament definition, it is “a farming management model based upon observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops”. The goals are mainly increasing the productivity of the crops while ensuring a higher environmental sustainability.
In plain words: to produce more and better with less. And for that there are several tools, techniques and technologies.