Farming is traditionally a family affair. Generations of land and techniques pass down in the family business. As younger farmers take on more responsibilities, they are bringing new technology along with them. AgTech, the process of combining agriculture and technology, is an up and coming business sector. Increasingly, farmers are relying on 21st century technologies to keep their generations-old businesses growing.
Over the past decade and a half, agriculture outperformed all economic sectors in the United States except for one: information. Farming is the largest agricultural sector, which also includes fishing, hunting, and forestry. Agricultural technology used to be defined by such “advancements” as genetics and biotechnology. The prospects of new seed varieties or bio-tech enhanced sugar beets excited few industry investors and entrepreneurs. AgTech is changing that.
Putting Old Methods to Pasture
Drones, the Internet of Things (IoT), satellite mapping, and cloud computing are finding fertile ground in farming and agriculture in America and worldwide. Take for instance a German cattle rancher who checks his computer before checking his stables. Windows software and cloud technology bring herd-monitoring alerts ranging from illness to fertility. Cows on his farm wear necklaces that record sounds and movements indicating fertility. Data is aggregated and provided via PC or mobile device for monitoring on the farm. Traditionally ranch hands sit with and observe a single cow at a time for signs, but this AgTech allows farmers and their ranch hands to virtually monitor every cow in the herd 24/7.
Another IoT solution is helping oyster farmers in Tasmania. The Yield tracks local tides to schedule harvesters and monitors food safety to minimize oyster harvesting closures that result in millions of dollars lost. Aggregated satellite and weather data helps agriculture giant Land O’Lakes make planting decisions. Drones can combine GPS and GIS data to improve everything from crop yields to water conservation efforts. Off-the-shelf drones are replacing what used to be the expensive work of satellites. This “precision agriculture” can be scaled for all farmers regardless of the size of their farms and capital investments.
Using the cloud has the potential to save agricultural enterprises precious time, resources, and maximize production. In an industry where timing is everything, from when to plant to when to fertilize cows, data aggregation helps farmers and ranchers work with more information in a shorter amount of time. AgTech is shaping up to become the next iron plow for farmers and ranchers.
AgTech, combining agriculture with technology, is taking the load off farmers and ranchers worldwide. Cloud computing, drones, and Internet of Things programs provide industry workers with information about when livestock are ill, when to schedule harvests, and how best to conserve water. Generations-old businesses are getting a technological boost as younger farmers bring new tech to the trade.