Navigating digital transformation

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Unless you’ve been hiding out on a deserted island somewhere, you’re aware of the digital transformation that’s taking place in our world. But it may not have occurred to you, as an agricultural professional, that the digital transformation affects the farming industry as well.

It turns out that all those nifty innovations you hear about for tech and software businesses can also greatly improve the connectivity and efficiency in your farming business.

In the context of sustainability, climate and population challenges, the digital revolution will be needed in all industries, changing our society forever. Focusing on the multitude of ways to best distribute and access relevant information, the digital transformation will determine what the future of agriculture looks like.

Take a look at some of the latest digital transformation trends happening now and learn how they potentially impact agtech.

5G is expanding global network availability

Starting full force in 2020, the deployment of 5G networks and devices will mark not only a new level of connectivity and speed but network reliability. 5G is set to drastically bolster the effectiveness of every piece of technology you have heard of: smart vehicles, unmanned vehicles, smart manufacturing and cities, along with all devices connected in the IoT (Internet of Things).

Simply put, 5G will serve as an infrastructure for a host of life-changing technologies to come to fruition. Having a new 5G smartphone will be the least of improvements you can expect.

How it helps agriculture:

5G networks are much better for transmitting information from remote sensors and drones, tools that are currently being used in agriculture. These networks are going to make it much easier to automate the entire farm process, with abilities like monitoring irrigation and soil moisture levels.

Automating farming processes

Speaking of automation, AI (Artificial Intelligence) is making it possible to connect more sensors and devices than ever. Think about how you can connect the systems in your home with smart hubs like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

These forms of AI allow you to automate many tasks that you formerly had to execute manually, such as locking your front door, changing the temperature on your thermostat, and turning on lights or music in your house.

How it helps agriculture:

Just imagine what you could do with that kind of automation in your business processes. With interconnected sensors, you can set tasks to occur when specific triggers happen.

For instance, sensors can monitor the soil quality, along with animal health or weather.

When AI determines through sensors on equipment that crops are ready for harvesting, it can bring robotic farming equipment online. Then these robots, guided by their own integrated sensors and the IoT, begin the harvesting operation while the AI accounts for the harvesting time needed and the transportation time.

Such precision of every detail, and on a large scale, is how future farming can achieve even greater heights of efficiency and sustainability. You can call it “precision agriculture”, or Precision AgTech.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that in order to keep up with food needs for the world’s Rising population, farmers will need to grow 70% more food in 2050 than they did in 2009. Automating is a key component that has made other industries faster, more agile, and more efficient. We can do this for agriculture too.

Making the most of digital analytics

There’s no doubt that the most successful companies today are utilizing analytics. Sales and marketing automation software makes it possible to collect more consumer data than ever before. Data analytics, boosted and driven by AI, will become the cornerstone of doing business.

In order to keep a competitive edge, this data will have to be properly compiled, assessed, and applied. “Following your gut” will not suffice.

How it helps agriculture:

The farmers and agtech professionals who analyze consumer data are going to have a huge advantage over those that don’t. They’ll be able to see trends in public perception and purchasing patterns that will enable their businesses to grow faster than others.

Following the Blockchain resurgence

The most visible application of blockchain, cryptocurrency, is just the beginning. While people lost and gained money with cryptocurrency trades in seemingly never-ending cycles of busts and highs, other blockchain projects were being developed in the background.

All the major players are already on board the blockchain train: Microsoft, IBM, Goldman Sachs, Alibaba, Samsung…along with a host of governmental and military organizations. You can expect to see accelerated mainstream blockchain adoption in finance, logistics, real estate, food traceability, voting, intellectual property, royalties, and micro-transactions.

How it helps agriculture:

Blockchain technology is already being used in food safety, and when more agricultural businesses get on board we can build public trust in the food supply chain by pinpointing the source of food safety outbreaks quickly.

To learn more about navigating digital transformation, be sure to attend the Quantified Farm Conference December 4th and 5th in Vancouver, BC. Visit www.quantifiedfarm.ca to register.