The Future of Farming and the Enhancement of Agricultural & Horticultural Output

As the population increases rapidly in different parts of the world, the various countries are going to face a major challenge trying to feed their people on a regular basis. According to an estimate presented by FAO, around 9.6 billion people are going to inhabit our planet by the year 2050. The global agricultural and horticulture sector is likely to face some enormous challenges trying to feed this massive population.

Experts believe that food production should be increased by about 70% by the year 2050 to cater to such growing demands for both crops and fruits. However, this growth in food production should to be achieved even though there is limited availability of fertile and arable lands for crops and trees. Further, Horticulture i.e. growing trees for fruits has its own set of challenges as for several years the trees don’t bear fruits. Also, a destruction of a plant destroys the tree yield not only in the current year but for many years into the future. A vast majority of fruits grow on trees, and fruits are rich source of critical dietary nutrients that are important for human health. The importance of human population using natural sources for vitamins and micro nutrients for better health cannot be understated.  A number of other challenges such as increasing requirement for fresh water as well as less predictable factors like impact of climatic change can affect the overall annual agricultural productions. The yield from fruit bearing trees can drop due to irregular weather patterns.

In order to meet with such challenges and yet produce sufficient amount of food crops on a regular basis, it is necessary that the agricultural industry makes use of advanced technological systems in order to boost the quantity and quality of overall agricultural production. A good way to do this is by making use of sensing technology that can make the farms operate in an intelligent manner. Such technology can also implement precision agriculture techniques, also referred to as ‘smart farming’. Already many leading corporations of the world have started to carry out in-depth research into the ways that can be used for enhancing the overall quality of farming efforts.

miniature plantsFarm offices and corporations collect bulk quantities of information relating to soil-mapping, plant or tree density,  plant health, crop production, fertilizer applications, use of machinery, weather records as well as animal health. One of the effective ways of smart farming that is implemented nowadays is Precision Livestock Farming or PLF, in which sensors are utilized for monitoring livestock so that health disorders in farm animals and reproductive activities can be detected early. Some of the typically monitored data include animal activity, body temperature, tissues resistivity, animal pulse and GPS position. Instant SMS alerts can also be sent to a breeder to monitor predefined events, such as when a cow gets ready for reproduction. There are specific time intervals when plants are typically infected by some insects, technology can help in sending timely reminders so that the plants can be protected by suitable insecticides.  At the same time, timely reminders on application of fertilizers can improve the plant yield as well as quality of the produce.   Similarly, many advances in science and technology can be applied for enhancing fruit yield from trees in the orchards.  Further, scientific advances can help in treating any issues with pests and microbes that infect trees and cause yield losses.

Precision farming is the key to successful farming in the coming years. Scientists and researchers all over the world are now striving to come up with effective ways in which they can use this to improve overall agricultural production. Smart farming is the buzzword these days, and many agricultural firms are looking to implement IoT to enhance the overall quality of their operations. Researchers believe that with the effective use of Internet of Things, it is possible to optimize agricultural processes and use available resources in the best possible manner. The currently existing arable land can also be cultivated in the best possible manner with the help of IoT. The main goal of use of technology is going to be the enhancement of overall agricultural processes so that maximum output can be achieved with the same limited resources. The quality of agricultural output can also be improved in this way.

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