The Techno Farmer
The single biggest factor that has ensured a meteoric rise agribusiness since the Industrial revolution is the technology revolution in agriculture. From the ubiquitous tractor and combiners used on farms to High Tech Robot swarms helping farmers, technology continues to ensure increased productivity and optimal utilization of farmland. This has caused an increase in the number of agri –tech startups along with a growing interest in agri entrepreneurship. Here are some of the latest and boldest technological aids developed for farmers:
- Sensors: A key market for sensors is the agriculture sector. There are sensors to monitor the health and diagnosis of livestock. There are sensors that ensure precision farming by monitoring the requirements of crops individually. And finally there are sensors that monitor the state of farm vehicles as well. The market is expected to grow from USD 5.8 billion in 2016 to USD 11.23 billion by 2022. As hardware is getting cheaper so are its applications.
- Automation: The absolute Industrialization of a farm is only possible after it is automated. Robots are already being used to aid farmers in sowing as well as reaping. But even they are being geared for complete automation. Robots are being developed to do specialized things, like pick only the ripe fruits and beings able to distinguish between healthy crop and unwanted weed so as to spray the latter with herbicides. Recently RHEA developed drones and tractors to do just that.
- Hydroponics: Recently companies like Panasonic and Sony have taken to developing edible plants in soilless environments under strict quality control. They are individually monitored and directly fed their requirement of mineral enriched water. Specialized lighting ensures a growth rate almost twice that of ordinary. The absence f soil ensures a minimal growth environment for harmful bacteria or fungus and a complete absence f weeds which compete with the plant for resources. This has a huge opportunity for urban application.
- Synergetic farming: Another approach being developed is synergetic farming where the entirety of the farming process is balanced on the synergy between two main organisms as well as a few secondary organisms. This sustainable agriculture approach carries the distinction of using no external insecticide or pesticides but rather on achieving an ecological balance between a few organisms. As an example, Bioaqua farms based out of Somerset grow vegetables and Rainbow Trout together in organic synthesis. To further balance the ecosystem bees and worms are utilized in lieu of pesticides and herbicides. The fish provides the nutrients for the vegetables while they eliminate the fish waste. This method of incorporating social entrepreneurship in agriculture ensures a whopping 95% decrease in water consumption than traditional horticulture farming practices.
Farming stands to benefit massively from the surge in technology, both hardware and software, in a big way. Gone are the days when nations had to be beset with questions arising out of agrarian crisis. The modernization of farms is as Inevitable as was the invention of the plow.