Urbanisation, ageing population and digitisation. These megatrends not only shape our everyday lives, but also the future. The agricultural sector in particular will face major challenges. The FAO predicts that by 2050 around 9.6 billion people will be living on earth. As a result, the demands placed on food production will increase enormously. In order to master the new challenges and make optimum use of seasonal events and conditions, so-called Smart Farming is enjoying increasing popularity.
As a result of digitalization and the constant growth in readable data, farmers today know more than ever about the optimal conditions for growing and dismantling food. With intelligent machines and sensors, processes are becoming increasingly data-controlled and are driving smart farming forward.
What is Smart Farming?
Smart Farming – How digital is our farming? (Source: dotSource GmbH)
Smart Farming essentially describes the use of information and communication technologies in agriculture. Developments such as the Internet of Things (IoT), sensor technology, GPS systems and above all Big Data play a major role in technologically optimized agriculture. As developments progress, unmanned vehicles (drones, self-propelled tractors) will also become important components of the future.
Smart Farming in action
There are already several start-ups, companies and regions that are testing smart farming. One example is the EU research project “Flourish” in Switzerland. Here, a quadrocopter communicates with a drone to identify and destroy weeds in the fields. The targeted, local release of pesticides is also possible in this smart farming project. The “Anymal” robot from ETH Zurich is another example of a successful experiment. Using sensors and tracking systems, it measures soil moisture and nutrients in the soil and helps to support targeted cultivation.
These are just a few examples of how robots, machines and data can support humans and facilitate colour work. Of course, such a development does not go completely without a critical examination. In addition to high acquisition costs, farmers complain in particular about a lack of competence in dealing with the new technologies. However, as with most new technologies, smart farming simply needs a head start and the courage to test something new. Then it can actively shape the future of agriculture through its enormous increase in efficiency and yield.