The world population has been on a rapid rise over recent years. It is estimated that the global food demand levels will hike up by nearly 70% over the next three decades – due to exponential population growth. It was found in a recent survey that over 800 million people worldwide do not have access to sustainable levels of food or other agricultural resources.
As quoted by global agribusiness experts, the purpose of agriculture is to maintain the ability to produce enough food for humanity and continue to do so in the future with minimal risk or friction. And this will only be possible if the basic and essential resources, such as soil, biodiversity and watercourses – can be properly maintained. Unfortunately, much of the world’s arable land is gradually degrading and diminishing due to a number of factors including climatic changes, deforestation, urbanisation, large-scale industrialization and other human activities like poor land management, improper tilling, overgrazing, intensive use of agrochemicals etc., which in turn has forced farmers and agribusiness owners to shift their the focus towards maximising the yield from the available land resources. And this is exactly where the concepts of ‘precision agriculture’ and ‘smart farming’ come into the picture.
According to research estimates, the market value of smart agriculture will soar to a projected value of USD 22.5 Billion by 2026 with a growth rate of 8.9% CAGR from an initial value of USD 15.3 Billion in 2020 – thanks to the rapid development and increased adoption of modern-day technologies like Artificial Intelligence, drones, sensors, robotics, cloud computing, big data agribusiness solutions and other advanced IoT (internet of things), tools that are replacing conventional farming methods and tools to become increasingly mainstream in the world of agriculture. Despite the constantly increasing popularity and adoption, there is a major population of farmers out there that is still hesitant about embracing digitisation and automation technologies for farming due to the presence of a fair number of misleading myths.
That said, in this blog, we will bust some of the most common myths about modern agriculture and smart farming that get in the way of farmers’ ability to efficiently and sustainably use main resources to feed the ever-growing population.
1. CONVENTIONAL FARMING IS NECESSARY TO FEED THE WORLD
It’s not uncommon to hear conventional farmers and advocates of conventional agriculture claim that modern agriculture that involves organic and precision farming produces lower yields and is a recipe for global starvation. A 2015 research and meta-analysis, considered the most extensive yield comparison to date, found that organic yield production averaged almost 20 % less than conventionally grown crops.
However, further in the study when crop yields on conventional farms were compared to those on organic farms which used cover crops and methods like crop rotation to build soil health, the yield gap shrunk to below 10 percent.
It was concluded that the actual gap may be much smaller as some evidence of bias was found in meta-data analysis of studies reporting higher conventional yields. In a nutshell, the basis for claims that organic farming is not sufficient to meet the global food demand as much on specific farming methods used as on the type of farm.
2. SMART FARMING IS ONLY SUITED TO LARGE-SCALE FARMS
While we cannot deny the direct correlation of the farm and the ability of the farmer to invest higher capital in smart faming tools, it would not be right to assume that smart agriculture solutions are only meant for big farms. According to a report from the FAO, 76% of the total food in the world is produced in small, family-owned farms – this makes it integration of smart farming methods and high-end precision tools in such farms absolutely important. Moreover, commercial farming practices are anticipated to become critical in small farms as well with the increased implementation of customised powerful smart agriculture tools.
3. DIGITAL AGRICULTURE AND DIGITAL FARMING ARE THE SAME
This has to be one of the biggest misconceptions related to smart farming that today’s farmers have. The concept of digital farming focuses on creating actionable intelligence and meaningful value from data; the origins of this form of farming go back to the mid-90s, when the agriculture industry was introduced to the first-ever range of tractors with built-in GPS capabilities. At present, tractors with GPS systems have become more common than ever in Australian farms, along with smart sensors, satellite imaging solutions and agricultural drones, pushing ‘digital farming’ to newer and greater heights. However, it is important to note that ‘digital agriculture’ is not the same, but a much more inclusive and vast concept. While digital farming is mostly limited to the consistent application of field-centric data and operations, digital agriculture goes beyond and includes everything – right from customised farm data software and use of digital platforms for agriculture, tech-backed transportation & logistics, and generation of food technology awareness, to food safety, supply chain optimisation and better engagement of farmers with other stakeholders. The implementations in digital farming make up only a small section of a well-integrated farm management system – which is what digital agriculture is all about.
With the evolution of advanced agriculture technologies like IoT, AI and big data in the agriculture industry, it is no surprise that more and more farmers are making their farm operations more intelligent and profitable by switching to precision technologies. However, there are still many farms and agribusinesses that are stuck with conventional agriculture methods and fail to cash in on the great potential and benefits of modern agriculture that largely focuses on data and digitalisation.
Furthermore, whether you own a small farm or a well-established agriculture business, it is inevitable to do extensive research and be aware of your smart farming possibilities with an expert. At KG2, we allow you to focus on your core business while our expert data analysts take care of your field and marketing operations with comprehensive data-backed solutions and custom data farm software.