A new white paper document released by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), outlines 13 trends that they say requires the attention of the industry, if we are to keep up with a growing global population and environmental requirements.
Megan Tanel, president of AEM, says over the years farmers have been expected to produce more with less environmental impact and to date, farmers have adapted to these changes extremely well. However, with the world population being estimated to increase by 2.2 billion by 2050, there are many more changes on the horizon, many to do with technology, that will need farmers’ adoption in order to be successful.
This outlook is what has prompted the document by AEM as Tanel says, for where the world is heading in the way of mouths to feed and increasing importance of sustainability, the evolution of the ag industry is critical and urgent.
Of the 13 trends AEM identifies in the white paper, Tanel hones in on what she would consider to be the top four that the industry as a whole needs to focus on and find solutions for.
Development and proper use of new technologies is presumably the cornerstone of many of these trends AEM has identified. With the estimated population increase in the billions over the next 28 years, Tanel says globally, we’ll need 70 per cent more food than what we are producing now.
“With the evolution of technology and its adoption, we think that will be key to meeting the food production demands. And with precision agriculture, we see that as one way to help the row crop farmers meet the growing expectations with less environmental impacts.” says Tanel.
Secondly, water optimization will also play a large roll in maximizing efficiencies and yields while also being environmentally conscious. According to a study by McKinsey, our future water demands will outstrip our supply by 40 per cent. Tanel says there are several possibilities that could be employed to achieve this, including technologies that assist with better soil management, new soil sensors, precision irrigation and non-traditional water uses.
Thirdly, and it is likely many farmers will raise their glass to this trend, more efficient connectivity, meaning better rural internet. Even in the year 2022 this is still a big problem for many and Tanel says this is a pain point within the industry and one that needs attention. AEM believes through products and services such as fibre optics and 5G networks, we could start to see some solutions emerge in this market.
The final top trend that was identified is something we have seen many farm equipment companies already jump on board with – artificial intelligence. With a shrinking skilled workforce, Tanel says we could see quite a few applications of AI within farming operations that would prove to be highly beneficial.
“Machine learning enables equipment to work smarter. Precision agriculture tools, such as machine control, using GPS to turn on and off sprayers when not needed. Machine learning can improve equipment management help predict maintenance, repair and replacement needs before costly downtime.”
Emissions also have gained a lot of attention and without a doubt play directly into AEM’s role in the evolution of farming. Tanel says that they continue to work with industry professionals to react – and hopefully be proactive – in anticipating the needs of not only the farmer but also the policies that are to become non-negotiable in the near future.
“The adoption of some of the recent technologies and renewable power sources will intensify as new energies become available and farmers are going to look to biofuel, battery, Solar Hydrogen fuel cells to power their equipment.” says Tanel.
With the main focus on a lot of this innovation being technology and connectivity, there is a rising concern about cyber security. We have already seen a couple companies fall victim to these types of attacks and it may be something that becomes more prevalent as the ag and tech industry start to share more space.
Tanel says that this is something they are putting time and energy into and as new technologies and automations come to fruition, the development of protections for servers for sensors, cameras and other connective devices also need to be high on the priority list.
The recently released document took two years to develop says Tanel and it looks to identify the impact on the farming industry over the next decade. It is now the task of the same panel who identified these industry roadblocks, to now identify what the solutions will be for them and Tanel says she looks forward to sharing what those are after consultations are complete.