Over centuries, agricultural technology has created huge changes in the way people live, and the stakes for technological progress have never been higher. With tillable land shrinking due to rising populations and urban sprawl, farmers have had to find innovative ways to produce the same (or more) amount of food from the same (or less) amount of land. Through innovation, careful planning, and stewardship of the environment, farmers will be able to continue to boost food production and aid in feeding a rapidly growing population.
Some of these innovations are:
Soil and crop sensors
More farm equipment today is being outfitted with smart sensors that can read everything from plant health and water needs in the crop to nitrogen levels in the soil. The sensors then enable on-the-go application of inputs based on real-time field conditions.
Sensors allow more precise field modeling, which can be a valuable risk management tool. Today, the most well-known sensors are soil moisture sensors which are a popular tool on irrigated farms. That sensor measures soil moisture and soil temperature to better understand conditions at planting time. Sensor technology also is available to measure soil features like soil electrical conductivity, ground elevation, organic matter content and even pH.
Unmanned aerial systems - drones
Operating a small aerial drone over fields, farmer can receive detailed pictures of the crop. From the images, or a live video, he can see exactly what parts of a field are struggling with plant disease, insects or a lack of water. In a matter of minutes, he can gather as much information as someone could get in several hours walking through the field.
In a few more years, given some tweaks, the technology will be able to zoom in and identify the insect, weed or rusty spot that is taking a bite out of yields.
Farm management systems
Smart/precision farming systems are expected to play an important role in improving farming activities. Agrivi is a cloud system for whole crop production. Based on best-practice production processes for more than 100 crops, Agrivi app guides farmers towards improving their production and increasing productivity. Its features include project-oriented farm management with a simple and fast way of planning, monitoring and tracking all farm activities and input usage. Advance sales and expense tracking ensures taking control over farm finances. Other features include inventory management with low inventory alarms which prevents delays in production caused by lack of inputs, weather monitoring with detailed 7-day weather forecasts and 3-year weather history for each field and smart pest and disease risk detection alarms.
Precision agriculture technologies allow navigation, prescription application, location and other data to be transferred easily to and from farm machinery. These systems help farmers improve efficiency on high-priced equipment. It allows you to see, for example, a map that shows where all vehicles are operating and their fuel levels, how much product has been applied or how much crop harvested. With precision technologies, precise seeding and fertilizer applications have become a reality.
Seed companies are currently developing corn hybrids with the ability to better use available nitrogen.
Mini-chromosome technology promises to deliver multiple stacked traits in a single corn hybrid faster and more efficiently than today’s stacking technologies. The technology constructs in the lab a new mini-chromosome that contains a given trait or traits.
Scientists developed corn hybrids for drought conditions. These hybrids use natural gene selection and are targeted where water is a key limiting factor.
The aim of farmers is to use more biological pest control and growth enhancements, as farmers look for more environmentally friendly and cost-efficient crop inputs. With advanced technologies, such as high-throughput screening, it's possible to quickly multiply beneficial organisms (nematocide, biofungicid), thus driving development of new biologicals.
Source: Farm Industry News