Latest Technological Advancements in Farming and Agriculture.

Latest Technological Advancements in Farming and Agriculture.

Over the next few decades, a technological wave will revolutionize the efficiency of farms all over the world. It can't come soon enough. By the year 2050, We all know the human population will be nearly 10 billion which means we'll need to have doubled the amount of food we now produce.

This is an examination of the agricultural innovations coming down the pipeline that will help get us there. The industry is undergone major developments over the last century. 100 years ago, farming looked a lot different than today, these changes have allowed many of us to do other things with our lives. In 1990, 10.9 million agricultural workers produced the food for 76 million people. Today, as per reports just 6.5 million workers feed 321.4 million Americans. The UN estimates that each year between 20% and 40% of the global crop yields are destroyed by pests and diseases. Thus, destroying a major amount of the global food production.

There have been two major factors which were most responsible for the surge in productivity, engines and the widespread availability of electricity.

Today the innovations on our immediate horizon include tech such as:

1. Autonomous Pickers

Researchers from the UK have already created a robot that gathers strawberries twice as fast as us, humans. These robots can help automate and reduce the time needed to harvest delicate crops like strawberries, cranberries, bananas, etc. Though this technology is still being implemented for large-scale harvesting and food production, the main challenge is to make these robots switch between different kinds of crops.

2. Robotic Weed/Pest Removers

There has been a development in robots that can precisely remove weeds or shoot them with the targeted spritz of pesticide, using 90% fewer chemicals than a conventional sprayer. These robots can help save the farmer a ton of money and limit the use of toxic pesticides by only targeting the affected crops and regions. For the organic farmer, they could zap the weeds with a laser enabled weed and pesticide remover instead, making it a better alternative than using toxic pesticides to curb the growth of pests and weeds.

3. Completely Autonomous Farm

Researchers at Harper Adams in the UK plan to grow as well as harvest an entire hectare of Barley without humans ever entering the field. These farms can be controlled and monitored by farmers by not being physically present at the farm limiting the chance of human errors and increasing the amount of product generated. Thus, making it the first ever project of completely automated farm in the history of mankind and hence making farming problems a story of the past.

4. Drone-Assisted Crop Monitoring

With a steady advancement in drones, there has also been a development in drone software that analyses drone captured images to spot unhealthy vegetation. Thus, helping farmers determine the cause of an infestation and curb the loss of vegetation. These systems come with an inbuilt machine learning feature that can help the system differentiate between varieties of crops and the weeds that threaten them.

5. Vertical Farming

Vertical farms are essentially warehouses with stacks of hydroponic systems to grow leafy greens. They’re sprouting up in cities all over the world where fresh produce and land is scarce. The key obstacle here is the cost of energy, and the toll using a lot of it takes on the environment. The upside is that artificial lights and climate-controlled buildings allow crops to grow day and night, year-round, producing a significantly higher yield per square foot than an outdoor farm. For now, though, only expensive leafy greens like lettuce or herbs like basil have proven profitable in the vertical system. And the jury is still out on whether this is truly an environmentally friendly technique; One possible solution is to use blue and red-light wavelengths to optimize photosynthesis and turbo-boost growth- a technique tested by researchers at project ‘Growing Underground’, an experimental farm operating in old World War II bomb shelters underneath London.

Thus, these techniques can be used across the globe to curb the ever-expanding demand for food by preventing the loss of production and limiting the amount of human interaction needed for healthy and sustainable farming.

By Roshan Xavier