Agriculture Technology has made significant strides over the last few years. In 2018 alone, the Agritech industry has received funding of $16.9 Bn across 1,450 separate investments. In terms of the overall potential of the Agritech sector, the industry is emerging but is still at a very nascent stage across the globe.
In order to sustain the growing population, the agricultural output needs to grow a whopping 60% by 2030 and technology has to play a role in this transformation. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest trends in Agtech that will shape the sector in 2020.
Focus On Crop Monitoring Technologies
Adoption of Crop Monitoring technologies is a first step towards improving agriculture outcomes. Focusing on on-farm data and agronomy management technology, along with basic digitization to leverage data will help agribusinesses meet short and long-term goals.
Building a strong digital footprint at this juncture will help companies find a competitive edge, enabling them to meet the changing needs of both growers and end customers.
Remote sensing and satellite technology along with image recognition software enables the users to view the crops from anywhere in the world. The mobile applications allow farm managers to send advisories to farmers in real-time and assess the impact of these recommendations.
The adoption of innovative crop monitoring technologies results in an increase in food production output and a lot less waste.
AI/ML To Make Informed Farming Decisions
As remote monitoring of fields provides access to real-time information, it’s now becoming possible to glean this data for actionable insights. Advanced data analytics tools are enabling farmers, agri-businesses, and government agencies to make more informed decisions.
The best part is that these decisions can now be made in two ways — from a long-term perspective, as well as a more real-time approach. While there are more long-term decisions that will affect the next crop cycle, there’s also scope to make real-time decisions that will impact the output in the same crop cycle.
Doing More With Less
With the increase in population, demand for food will also increase. As estimated by FAO, by 2050 the world will need 60% more food to feed the population. As the arable land is limited, there is a need to grow food sustainably.
With the adoption of right technology, farmers are able to give each plant individualized care, utilize resources in exact quantities and can grow more with less. Precision agriculture technology has been growing in popularity over the past few years and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18% between 2019-2025.
AI-based Approach To Make Food Production More Sustainable
The rapid advancements in AI and ML are facilitating intelligent food production and the development of new business models— enabling food production to become both traceable and climate-resilient. Machine Learning and Deep Learning are being used to mine agri data for trends.
This begins even before planting the seed, ML can now give advice on the genes and traits that are best suited for crop production. As a result, farmers can now pick the breeds that will work best for them.
Consumer-Oriented Agriculture Production Matching Consumers Dietary Preferences
The food demands of consumers around the world are changing dramatically, and technology is being used to cater to this change in demand.
For instance, there’s a global shift towards healthy, organic food, with fewer pesticides and fertilizers. With the use of technology, farmers no longer have to apply inputs uniformly across the fields. Instead, farmers can now use the required quantities of inputs and target specific areas.
The farmers now have more control over crop production, processing, distribution and storage.
Supply Chain Improvements
Supply chain visibility and efficiency is the key to running a viable agriculture-based business. It is estimated that 40% of the total food produced in the United States goes to waste, and half of this waste happens during the distribution stage.
Given the perishability and sensitive timelines associated with agriculture, every stage of the supply chain comes with integration issues, security vulnerabilities, and other problems.
The right technological interventions at the right stage will help manage the otherwise long and complex agricultural supply chain. Agritech will help provide solutions that preserve product quality, reduce waste, improve traceability, transportation, and storage.
In the last five years, investment across the Agri supply chain has averaged $250 Mn per year. With the rapid increase in Agritech innovation, this should gain momentum next year.
Access To Finance In The Rural Sector Through AI-Led Credit & Insurance Underwriting
Data-driven decision making is absolutely critical for rural lending— an area that has traditionally suffered due to lack of data and transparency about small, marginal farmers and their landholdings.
Implementation of AI can bring a revolutionary change in this sector by enabling easy access to borrowers who are usually excluded from mainstream credit— those who are first-time borrowers or have an insufficient credit history.
Most experts believe that the accuracy and predictability that come with AI will transform the industry by providing easy access to finance to creditors who are denied from mainstream credit. This fundamental change will introduce profound changes to market equilibriums in the (re)insurance and lending sectors.
AI technologies can capture farm data over time, enabling lenders and insurers to make informed lending and underwriting decisions.
Adoption Of Robotic Technologies In Farms
Robotics in agriculture is focussed on improving productivity — whether that’s spraying or weeding robots or plant-transplanting robots or even fruit-picking robots. These robots are slowly becoming geared towards tasks that are more and more intricate and specific.
Factors such as the shortage of labour, the rising costs of labour, and the inability of existing methods to meet the growing demand have led to increasing adoption for robotics in agriculture.
There is a huge scope for Agtech as robotic technologies help in increasing yields while reducing the dependence on labour and optimizing the use of resources.
Food security is a global concern and is set to become even more of an issue than before in the next decade. In such a situation, technology offers hope for the agriculture sector as a whole. With Agritech-led transformation, agriculture outcomes can improve radically, building a world where food insecurity doesn’t exist and farmers can improve their livelihoods in a big way.