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Smart Farming (Precision Agriculture)

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With the future challenges faced by our sector, from the ongoing climate crisis and the urgent need for an overall shift to sustainable practices, with less reliance on natural resources, to the increasing global population and the subsequent, associated challenges for food production, in many of our recent blogs we have focused on the future of agriculture and farming.  This week, we will return to this theme and detail some of the key aspects of “Smart Farming”, which will shape agriculture and farming moving forward.

What is Smart Farming?

Also known as precision agriculture, a major feature of Smart Farming is about effectively integrating advanced technologies into the Agricultural Industry, not only at a local level, but also at macro levels.  Therefore, Smart Farming draws on the latest technologies to further sustainable farming practices, reduce the environmental impact of farming, increase the efficiency of agricultural businesses and thereby, reduce costs.  Smart Farming includes initiatives such as, utilising big data, the internet of things (IoT) and other technological systems, for tracking, monitoring, automating and analysing operations.

Smart Farming – Innovative Technologies

Smart Farming technologies include:

  • Soil scanning technology.

  • Technology which manages water, light, and heat.

  • Telecommunications technologies including advanced networking and GPS.

  • Hardware and software for specialised IT applications, robotics, and automation.

  • Data analytics tools providing data on everything from crop yields, soil-mapping, and animal health, to the weather and climate change, enhancing decision making and prediction.

  • Satellites and drones which continually gather up-to-date data for tracking and analysis.

The blend of such technologies allows farmers a greater, increasingly detailed view of what is happening at the most fundamental levels of their farming processes.  Thereby, enabling farmers to make ever more precise measurements, allowing them to adapt their farming strategies more effectively to the most subtle of environmental changes.  As a result, resources for example, such as pesticides and fertilisers, can be used more sustainably and efficiently.

Advantages of Smart Farming

Through technological innovation and integration, Smart Farming makes farming more interconnected, intelligent, and thereby, increasingly efficient, and more sustainable.  This in turn, helps to reduce the overall cost of farming whilst simultaneously, improving the quantity and indeed quality, of produce.  In addition, Smart Farming enables farmers to more effectively manage the land and its growing requirements; for example, in terms of soil nutrients, fertilisers and pesticides in a given moment.  Furthermore, with technology enabling for much greater control over farming processes, waste of resources is reduced, meaning that there is less demand or need, for natural resources, which is excellent in terms of the climate crisis and also, benefits farm businesses in terms of resource cost reduction.

Smart Farming is going to play a huge part in what many suggest will be a “third green revolution” in agriculture, whereby technological systems are fully integrated into agriculture and farming, in order to aid in the challenges wrought by the ongoing climate crisis and to meet the demands for food, the result of an ever increasing global population.

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