As the world population reached 7.6 billion in 2017, sustainably feeding the entire globe has been paramount since then. In a study conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, around 1.3 billion tons of food generated for human consumption is wasted across the supply chains every year. It’s not just this global food wastage, but rising consumption of meat, eggs, aquaculture, and dairy use, occupies around 83% of the farmlands worldwide and contributes 56-58% of global food emissions.
While farmers understand and work on addressing these challenges, hard-to-find labor, traditional farming methods, and financial pressures have tied their hands down to an agricultural disruption. To solve these burning problems and flourish the agricultural value chain, industry leaders have created several opportunities with the most promising technologies such as sensors, digital data, artificial intelligence (AI), biologicals, and robotic automation. Since the Green Revolution, precision agriculture has been a significant technological change in the farming sector.
Precision agriculture technology-based solutions enable farmers to optimize the use of resources such as seed, water, fertilizer, and pesticides while monitoring crucial farm-based information such as crop rotation details, harvesting times, and soil management. Owing to the introduction of ICTs and navigation systems such as GPS and GNSS, farmers can access valuable insights and guide their agricultural machinery to precise movement. In 2018, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) indicated that there would be around half a million drones in action by the year 2020, and merging this technological advancement with farm production and irrigation could be the start of a new era for agricultural innovation.
A market study conducted by BIS Research found that the global market for precision agriculture was valued at $5.067 billion in 2019 and would rise to $11.107 billion by the end of 2025. The rapid adoption of these smart farming technologies has enhanced the potential ROI for farmers, created disruptive business opportunities, and increased government support for sustainable farming technologies.
Solutions for precision agriculture encompass a wide array, broadly divided into the following:
Hardware systems which comprise automation and control system, sensing and navigation systems, and others,
Software solutions that consist of software apps, tools, cloud services, and platform-as-a-service offered as a subscription model by companies,
Precision agriculture services that include integration and deployment of farm equipment, maintenance and support, and other services such as consultancy and financial services.
Out of the above solutions, in 2019, the hardware systems captured more than 70% of the total share for the global precision agriculture market. Due to extreme climatic conditions and inadequate resource accessibility, several countries involved in extensive agricultural production, such as China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, and Argentina, are registering a high growth rate in the adoption of effective farming solutions.
What lies ahead
There’s no doubt that precision farming is the future of the agriculture industry. However, with rapidly changing technologies, agricultural OEMs, universities, technology players, and start-ups should focus more on understanding the voice of the farmers. Working with them, understanding their challenges, and turning a problem into a solution, holds the key to create value for a long-term, sustainable farming solution to feed more than 10 billion people.