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AgTech on the Farm: 3 Trends to Follow

Over the past 100 years, farmers have gone from horse-drawn equipment to autonomous tractors. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, hybrid seed corn and self-propelled combines have been introduced to improve on-farm productivity and efficiency. In just 100 years, the industry has been revolutionized.

While we’ve seen plenty of innovation in the past century, the past two decades have delivered farmers more data than has ever been possible. Like the innovations before it, AgTech has changed the industry forever. With the latest tools, farmers can execute more precise production plans, manage on-farm resources more effectively and implement more sustainable practices. 

As a trusted advisor, it can be overwhelming to keep up with all the latest trends in AgTech. Here’s an overview of some top innovations headed to your customers’ farms.


IoT Agricultural Monitoring

A hyper-connected world offers tremendous on-farm benefits and is a game-changer for the industry. Smart agriculture uses sensors to collect environmental and machine metrics so farmers can improve efficiency, precision and predictability. Some common smart ag applications include weather monitoring, crop management devices, livestock monitoring, management platforms and digital imaging. 

Facts & Factors estimates the global agriculture IoT market value in 2020 at around $11.9 billion and predicts it will grow to $18.7 billion in 2026. According to Forbes, IoT-enabled agricultural monitoring is smart, connected agriculture’s fastest-growing technology segment. 

Key takeaway: As rural connectivity expands and operations get larger, expect more on-farm adoption of smart ag technologies that allow farmers to manage their business from anywhere.

More Precision Agriculture

Precision ag technology developed over the past two decades has helped generate customized farm data to increase efficiency and inform profitable decision-making. Technologies like equipment guidance and automatic steering, variable rate input application, remote sensing, in-field electronic sensors, row control on planters, sprayers and fertilizer applicators, and spatial data management systems are a few examples of practical applications of precision ag on the farm.   

There are numerous specialized farming software and data collection platforms, so it’s essential to understand your customers’ technologies to help them optimize input decisions and applications based on their equipment capabilities. One way to stay on top of the latest precision ag technologies is to visit conferences and trade shows, including Farm Progress, World Ag Expo and The National Farm Machinery Show

Precision agriculture is getting even more accurate as technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, are applied on the farm. Reliable, vetted and actionable data is the key to unlocking an operation’s profitability potential and increasing productivity. Fortunately, today’s computers can simultaneously collect, organize and analyze millions of data points related to weather patterns, crop growth cycles, real-time field conditions, crop health, irrigation cycles and input applications, just to name a few.  

Artificial intelligence fuels models and algorithms that have the power to help control pests and diseases, recommend optimum planting rates and field placement, predict harvest schedules and estimate yield potential to plan crop marketing. Trimble reports that the agricultural AI industry is valued at about $519 million and expects it to grow to $2.6 billion by 2025.

Key takeaway: Today’s precision ag technology enables an unprecedented amount of data collection, but the information is useless without the technical expertise to turn it into actionable insights. Data analysis services provide an excellent opportunity for ag retail revenue growth.


Sustainability Management

Sustainability is front and center as consumers demand more eco-friendly food and companies look to reduce their carbon footprint. AgTech tools allow farmers to monitor and manage their production practices to identify and implement more sustainable protocols to align with evolving consumer demands. Because sustainability is data-driven, farmers can use the information they’re collecting to drive new practices. 

Retailers are partnering with companies that offer AgTech modeling tools and resources specifically for identifying and implementing more sustainable production practices. With these innovative technologies, farmers can reduce the risk of adopting new management practices by modeling the profitability potential of their changes before taking action. For example, farmers can see how changing nitrogen rates or adjusting application timing could impact their bottom line.   

Precision irrigation systems are helping farmers optimize their water use, which is especially critical in water-scarce areas like California. Some solutions enable farmers to reduce irrigation water and energy use by 50%, reduce fertilizer loss due to overwatering and deliver actionable insights for managing crop needs throughout the season.  

Carbon sequestration offers farmers an additional revenue stream, and new technologies support these efforts. Drones, planes and satellites equipped with precision imaging cameras can be used in conjunction with core soil samples to track and predict soil carbon levels remotely. Carbon programs will require more detailed and accurate in-season record-keeping, making platforms like GROWERS Rally™ valuable for capturing the building blocks for sustainability and carbon verification programs. As the need for large-scale carbon monitoring increases, these ag-tech applications will likely become more mainstream.

Key takeaway: Ag technology is a prerequisite for more widespread adoption of sustainable production practices. Modeling tools and monitoring platforms can help mitigate risk, validate the profitability of new farming methods and reduce barriers to entry into carbon markets.


A Booming Business

Statista reports that in 2021, North America’s agricultural technology market value was approximately $6.2 billion. By 2025, that value could jump to $14.3 billion, while the global AgTech market reaches a staggering $22.5 billion. AgTech is here to stay, and it should be a focus area for your ag retail business’s growth.  

Farmers are embracing the benefits of AgTech, propelling investments in startup companies. PitchBook reports that venture capitalists invested $10.5 billion across 751 AgTech startup deals in 2021, a value increase of more than 58% year-over-year. From cloud-connected equipment to aerial imagery and sensor technology, modern farms are adopting tools to meet the production demands of a growing population.

Technology is advancing at lightning speed, and what seems impossible today will be a reality for the next generation of farmers. GROWERS is proud to partner with ag retailers like you to help farm businesses evolve and adapt for the future. Learn more about our innovative products and services.

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