We dive into the future of the farm and where technology is taking it next, from agricultural drones to crop biologicals.
The farm of the future will be built on key technologies such as:
- Autonomous tractors capable of tilling, plowing, and fertilizing fields without a human operator in the tractor cabin
- Connected farm platforms that will allow farm operators to remotely track and manage operations
- Agricultural drones that can map, spray, and spread across fields and orchards autonomously
- Harvesting robots that have the ability to carefully pick and transport produce
- Automated weed control, which consists of robots that can identify and then remove or treat weeds in fields
- Soil optimization tech that allows farm operators to understand their soil at a granular level, analyze how to optimize yields, and measure carbon storage in soil
- Crop biologicals that deploy natural means to treat and protect crops
Below, we dive into these technologies: how they work, who has an edge, and how they’re shaping the farms of the future.
What’s at stake?
WHY IT MATTERS
As the global population is estimated to hit 8B this year, farm operators have scaled up their production — however, their access to land has reportedly only grown by 4% in the last 20 years, forcing them to drastically increase their productivity per acre. Meanwhile, inflation, labor shortages, and economic uncertainty are squeezing farm operators’ and food producers’ already-thin margins.
As of 2020, 1 in 3 people did not have adequate food access, according to the FAO. To address their many challenges and deal with the situation, farmers are considering adopting emerging agtech innovations to increase production efficiency, improve yields, and reduce costs. Sustainable solutions are particularly important, as reports indicate that about one-third of global agricultural land has been degraded by humans in their quest for increased productivity.
While farm operators have traditionally been hesitant to adopt new technologies due to high capital costs and uncertain results, they are starting to test and even implement emerging tech-enabled solutions. The future of the farm is digitized and connected, which could allow farm operators to gain insights into their operations, model solutions, and deploy automated labor.