Agtech is a concept that aims to incorporate sustainable agricultural technology into processes. It is an emerging sector that can reshape agriculture worldwide, reducing the environmental impact of the industry and increasing production.
The 5 key trends in sustainable agriculture
As Christiane Laibach said -finance expert and member of the German bank KfW’s executive board- food demand will double in the next 50 years. However, a transformation is necessary to ensure productivity and sustainability because of the industry’s environmental impact.
What trends will change the agricultural landscape? Take note:
1. Use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in crop monitoring
IoT sensors connected to a monitoring platform can measure crucial crop variables such as humidity, temperature, luminosity, photosynthetic radiation, CO₂, and more.
This way, it is feasible to obtain valuable data in real-time, helping us maintain greater control over agricultural production and resources.
Given the current severe drought in Chile, this constant monitoring could help optimize crop irrigation. It is estimated that IoT sensors in agriculture can help reduce water consumption by up to 30%.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) for pest detection
Together with IoT, data collection and analysis allow agricultural companies to harness the full potential of artificial intelligence (AI).
Thanks to AI-powered smart sensors, farmers can detect specific areas affected by pests. One example is drones, which can fly more than 70 meters high to capture images taken by RGB, thermal or multispectral cameras.
By relying on visual reports from drones and in-house analysis, farmers can make more informed decisions regarding the quality and quantity of pesticides. Such precision would reduce their indiscriminate use, optimizing costs while yielding better quality crops.
3. Plowing and cultivation automation
Several companies are working on robotics innovations to save time and improve work precision. How do these solutions materialize in the agricultural sector?
- Autonomous tractors. These vehicles can be remotely controlled or even pre-programmed, and their use would have a direct effect on reducing operational costs as well as crop yields.
- Robots for planting and cleaning. They can be remarkably accurate in pulling weeds and reporting where to apply herbicides. As a result, the use of pesticides on crops could be reduced by 90%, preventing the growth of more resistant weeds.
- Robotic cultivators. Due to their precision, they can perform harvesting tasks without damaging fruit and vegetable products (key for exports). In addition, multiple robots could harvest the crop according to predefined standards, reducing labor costs in these tasks.
Based on the potential of these solutions, Statista reported that the global market for agricultural robots will reach a value of $20.6 billion by 2025. It is one of the fastest-growing trends in sustainable agricultural technology.
4. Vertical farms
As Rasmus Bjerngaard -CEO of Nextfood, a company dedicated to vertical farms- told Forbes, both AI and automation are essential to optimize operating costs in this type of facility.
Bjerngaard points out that the pandemic revealed the problems in the food industry’s distribution systems, which are highly centralized.
Vertical farms would help reduce the traditional system’s feed transportation and distribution costs and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, these farms would locate small production centers right in the areas where their consumption is needed.
We are talking about an expanding market: according to a report by Insight Partners, it will be worth US$19.864 million by 2028.
5. Use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
The success of each crop depends very much on where it is located and the characteristics of the area. Today, it is possible to address these variables with a GIS system, which will continue to play a relevant role in today’s sustainable agricultural technology.
These systems are a vast source of information, as they provide data on climatic conditions and can model and (or) predict other variables:
- The impact of erosion on the soil.
- Crop yields.
- Irrigation requirements.
- Soil health and compatibility with specific crops.
It can also model different natural catastrophes (NATCAT modeling) scenarios -such as floods or droughts- generating accurate mappings of their repercussions.
Due to the way it benefits industries such as agriculture, the GIS systems market is forecast to have a compound annual growth rate of 10.16% in Latin America between 2019-2027.
PolyNatural: empowering sustainable agricultural technology
Data analysis and the use of increasingly precise machines are some of the main trends of 2022 regarding sustainable agricultural technology. These are real solutions to reduce the food industry’s environmental impact.
At PolyNatural, we are working to achieve that goal; that’s why we created Shel-Life®, an all-natural coating for fruits and vegetables that will extend their lives on shelves.
Being FREE from chemicals and petroleum products usually on the market, Shel-Life® allows farmers and producers to align with increasingly demanding and informed consumers about their food.
With Shel-Life®, growers can gain a better position among consumers by offering chemical-free fruits and vegetables while promoting exports, which is extremely important in an expanding globalized market. All this without losing sight of the planet’s well-being thanks to more environmentally friendly solutions.