5 Ways Data Science is Transforming Agriculture

Data science in agriculture is changing the landscape. We’re currently in an unprecedented and rapid rise in the adoption of smart data usage and connectivity in agriculture, completely transforming the way that farmers operate and do business.

The 21st century will mark one of the most significant periods in agricultural history. This is nothing short of a data revolution. Here are 5 ways that data science is transforming agriculture:

A SURGE IN PRODUCTIVITY

Estimates from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization show a projected global population of 9.1 billion by 2050.1 To meet that demand, global food production would have to increase by 70%.

Data connectivity offers farmers and the agribusinesses they partner with the chance to utilize advanced data capabilities and meet these demands, effortlessly connecting with each other (even if they operate completely different systems) to cut costs, to drive efficiencies, innovation and ultimately profitability. Farmers have never been so well placed to receive the support and guidance they need from partners in the supply chain, enabling them to work smarter – not harder – and see an unprecedented boost in productivity.

Businesses across the agriculture sector that seize the capabilities granted by the data revolution position themselves to remain profitable and flourish, as we move into an era of ever greater market volatility and environmental scrutiny.

INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT) ADOPTION SKYROCKETS

The Internet of Things (IoT) has seen a huge acceleration in recent years, with smart devices becoming more prevalent, and increasingly able to share with one another. According to research agency Gartner, a projected 20.5 billion connected devices will be in use by 2020 – outnumbering humans by 4-to-1.2

Farm devices that utilize IoT could, for example, mean an end to entering the same data sets multiple times into different systems, significantly reducing financial and time costs that arise from human error. Sensors on farm are already used to monitor soil nutrition, temperature, moisture, and more. IoT means connecting all those systems together, removing the need to repeatedly enter data into multiple apps that don’t talk to one another. In short, imagine a farm where all useful information is automatically and seamlessly unified, letting the farmer get on with work that matters.

Recent research indicates that the IoT creates $14.4 trillion in value across all businesses.3 Adoption means smarter data usage across the agri-supply chain driving smarter, more profitable farming and food production.

REDEFINED BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS

Big data hasn’t just redefined the way we work and operate, but the way in which we build and maintain business relationships. For farmers, this means the ability to share important data directly with their agronomist or vet, while maintaining complete security. This in turn allows parties on all sides to offer a more accurate and valuable service to one another. Agronomists can have better insight into crop status and offer better guidance. Vets can do the same for livestock.  Farmers can spend less time managing their relationships and more time driving productivity through smarter farming.

The traditional relationship between farmers and their supply chains will be enhanced by better and speedier communication, in a way that is more responsive to real world events. Whether it’s using the data collected by sensors to work out a better farm plan with agronomists or adjust fertilizer usage, the benefits are obvious. Instead of a standard transactional model, farmers will have a more natural and well-informed relationship with their advisors, allowing for more productive decisions that yield greater results.

PRECISION AGRICULTURE TO BECOME MORE AND MORE THE NORM

Precision agriculture is on the upsurge, with the market value expected to grow from approximately 5.09 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 to 9.53 billion U.S. dollars by 2023.4

Daily operations across the whole supply chain already generate vast amounts of data, used to improve on each business’ particular remit. By seizing the value that already exists in that huge lake of data and making it dynamic, farmers can derive better performance and productivity.

Precision agriculture enables farmers to do more with less, identifying the key parts of their farm that offer the best ROI for suitable investment, backed by more effective farm decision making that is more immediate, whether it’s recognizing pest threats sooner or preparing for severe weather events.

Precision agriculture, backed by smart data usage, can identify parts of a farm that will deliver an investment return or would be better delivering sustainability and conservation outcomes. Through smart data use, it’s possible for farmers to better understand their output practices and understand what changes can generate the greatest value.

ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS – BETTER DECISIONS BACKED BY DATA

With the ability to collect more and more geospatial data right down to a granular level, the benefits granted by data insights appear limitless. Manufacturers can respond to what’s needed downstream in the supply chain and better strategize, whilst ag retailers can determine their best and worst suppliers, measure and rank stores by agreed efficiency measures, and even scope out their business’ real-time market share.

Farmers, as a result, will be empowered by the sheer power gained by having an informed and more reliable supply chain behind them, in addition to the valuable data insights that help them to be more compliant, efficient, and profitable

Currently, agronomists and retailers seek to offer products that directly solve their farmers’ needs on farm but are thwarted by a lack of visibility and insight into the true status on-farm. Data analytics unlocks that visibility – even without the need to completely share every aspect of a farmer’s data, should they be concerned about privacy. This will also benefit the advice given by agronomists; smart data analytics can generate verified and actionable advice for use on farm, driving better yields and profitability for farmers. This will not only help farmers circumvent any recurring issues but identify previously unknown key areas in which they can improve and ultimately see a greater financial return.

Technological innovations such as these have made it possible for farms to better understand all the opportunities on offer – and the restrictions holding them back.

Agriculture is changing, and more changes are on the horizon. True connectivity will unify the supply network for businesses that adapt, delivering profitable infrastructure that can meet the demands of a changing world.

How will the agriculture industry change in the near future? Download the full white paper on how data science is transforming agriculture at: www.proagrica.com/agdatainsight_whitepaper

 

1“The future of food and agriculture: Trends and challenges”, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2017

2Leading the IoT, Gartner, 2017

3https://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en_us/about/ac79/docs/innov/IoE_Economy.pdf

4https://www.statista.com/statistics/721921/forecasted-market-value-of-precision-farming-worldwide/

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