The near-constant supply chain disruptions in recent years have shown our need for better, more streamlined supply chain management. To mitigate supply chain issues, however, we must go back to the source: farms and agricultural companies that create and provide most of the world’s food supplies.
Traditionally, with conventional supply chains, farmers have often had less power because they’ve had little to no data about how their product performs relative to demand. In other words, farming has been behind where technology is concerned. But all of that can change with smart farming.
According to farming experts, smart farming can provide “a vital link between all players in the supply chain by enabling a more efficient and equitable flow of information, and in doing so, facilitating better decision making.”
Thus, farmers need to start adopting new technologies to mitigate issues and make the agricultural supply chain more efficient.
What is Smart Farming?
Smart farming is the use of modern technology to efficiencies. By using smart technologies, farmers can consume resources more sparingly, relieve excessive workloads, and increase productivity to produce higher yields.
Smart farming, as mentioned above, can also enable a better flow of data to improve supply chain management, which can help mitigate any issues or disruptions. Essentially, the whole of the agriculture industry can be greatly improved with smart farming, as it can advance capabilities and significantly improve processes.
Why We Need Smart Farming Technology
The future of our food supply is facing numerous challenges. The more humankind moves forward, the more demands are placed on us — particularly ones that impact the agricultural industry and global food supply. But smart farming can help us address these challenges, many of which include:
- Food inequality: Feeding the world isn’t easy, and unfortunately, more vulnerable populations suffer and go hungry more than others. But with the help of agri-tech, it is possible to increase food production to the point that we can feed more people more easily.
- Pollution: The agriculture sector is responsible for over 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. By using smarter technologies that can improve efficiencies, however, we can cut down on the amount of energy needed to complete agriculture processes, such as cultivating and growing crops, and feeding and transporting livestock.
- Overconsumption of natural resources: Across the globe, access to fresh water is a public health concern and major crisis. And the largest consumer of fresh water? Agriculture. Around 70% of water is consumed by agriculture, thus indicating a critical need for more efficient processes and smarter use of water.
- Climate change: Crop yields are being directly impacted by climate change. Unfortunately, as the world grows, there will only continue to be more mouths to feed. As such, we must find ways to increase agriculture productivity and yields.
How Smart Farming and Agri-tech Can Make Agriculture Supply Chains More Resilient
There is no doubt about it — re-designing the agriculture industry and farming with smart technology is essential if we are to future-proof supply chains.
Agriculture must make changes and upgrade processes through technology and digitization to make the agriculture supply chain more resilient and efficient. Doing so can help mitigate issues and challenges such as those listed above.
Implementing the use of smart farming tech can also facilitate better communication throughout the supply chain and those involved, make transporting of goods and products more affordable, and improve warehouse efficiencies. Smart farming tech can also help farmers increase their income, which can further help them afford changes that are necessary to future-proof their business.
Without improvements, we will only continue to face supply chain shortages and disruptions that could begin to severely impact human health and the way we live our lives. Food is essential, and if growing and providing food is becoming a problem, we must find ways to overcome these challenges to protect the future of our food supply.
Smart Technology Solutions for the Future of Farming
Already, there are various smart farming technologies available that farmers and others can use to improve agriculture. Some of these include:
- Smart irrigation systems;
- Autonomous tractors;
- Planting robots;
- Artificially intelligent crop monitoring systems;
- Drone crop monitoring.
One of the latest and most useful technologies that can be utilized across the agriculture industry to improve supply chains is the Internet of Things (IoT). Agriculture IoT is transforming the way we do farming.
IoT technologies, which are essentially advanced connected devices, are helping farmers solve significant issues and close the supply chain gap. Specifically, IoT solutions are enabling agriculture workers to reduce waste, enhance productivity, ensure higher yields, and increase profitability. This means more food and less damage to the environment.
While smart farming technology is already available, it is not widely used across the agriculture industry. Some farmers are still using conventional processes because it’s just what they know and what they are used to. But if we are to future-proof the supply chain, more farmers must start adopting these new technologies. There will certainly be a learning curve, but in the end, the yields will be worth the risks and effort.
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