(5 min read)
With the ever-growing global population, conventional food production is under threat from resources such as water and land as well ever-changing climates. That is where technology comes in to provide the most demonstrable solutions to help with these challenges. I want to talk more about these as we go through the following blog post and how this works in relation to horticulture and the overall future of crop production.
Climate change mixed in with an increasing world population will raise the question: How do we guarantee our food production is reliable and of good quality? Can we produce food in controlled environments that are separate of fluctuating weathers and temperature?
I am a real tech fan and am keen to see where this industry takes us. I have amassed a lot of experience in projects implementing tech for horticultural problems. Read on to find out what I am most keen on.
When you think about it, we are surrounded by robots… ones that clean your windows, vacuum the house, cut grass… What would you think of a robot that could automatically water, weed, seed, and harvest your plants? It would be very beneficial, and the best bit is – it is already happening! An example of this is the FarmBot, which is a raised-bed garden with a robotic tender. It is still at the very early stages, but the technology assures to achieve a level of efficiency in food manufacturing that a human could never reach.
When I saw FarmBot, it was a very insightful view into what could happen. Technology was able to make a gardeners life much more efficient. I pondered: How could technology enhance food production beyond automated gardens?
Automated Gardens, that are networked could allow individuals to plan and manage their plots remotely, if they needed to, say for example if they are on holiday! Who would have thought….Also, gardens could be managed in groups as oppose to individually as well.
Making Sure There is Constant Crop Quality
What do you think we can achieve with technology? We have to take a look at the bigger picture and how technology can actually help our way of producing food in the future.
We know that robots can already seed, cultivate, and harvest plants. Additionally sensors can be used to obtain data. Using sensors will result in the best captured data that can be used to set up closed loop controls that will control a robot’s actions.
This will basically give results and control that has never really been seen in food production. The level of reliability and quality control will be on another level.
A system you can trust and optimize will maintain extra security for suppliers and customers alike. This is of utmost importance for suppliers who produce medicinal herbs or plant-based pharmaceuticals who rely on consistent quality.
Big data management and machine learning are an absolute focus to help get further insight on the plant growth data that is collected in highly controlled environments. The findings that we gather could be used to optimize light, soil conditions, plant spacing and other aspects that could speed up the production cycle or produce more nutrient-rich food. Data is the foundation for an organizations achievements, shaping those algorithms and pushing optimization further.
Producing Food in Regulated Environments
Factors such as optimal lighting for crops, is not just a simple matter of getting any old lights. It has a knock on effect for the fact that suppliers will need specific LEDS with the correct wavelengths that will produce photosynthesis. High tech sensors will also further develop with for food production. These sensors will need to collect huge sets of data, for instance the moisture in soil, nutritional value, plant growth and light.
Urban or vertical farming could also develop from technological developments, meaning the opportunities to grow plants on walls and elevated platforms.
Vertical farms could soon become a normal compliment within cities. If we were to use these new technologies and take them to the cities, it would reduce transportation and logistics costs vastly, plus CO2 emissions. The knock on effects would be great.
There are always going to be new methods and ideas on how to produce and transport food, the food industry is going to be more willing to implement high tech as it will help to enable the best methods effectively.
It is interesting to note that a number of companies in Asia, Europe, and the US have found success with vertical farming business models. This is because they are located in urban areas; therefore, the logistics costs are lower. Using technology to optimize growth, it uses up to 95% less water then traditional farms, and, in some cases produce zero agricultural runoff. The added bonus is that they are inside and use less land too!
Other Technology That Can Support
The use of technology is really pushing the future of agriculture into other ways too. I am l looking at drone technology specifically. It has to be the most high-profile technological advancement in agriculture right now. In 2019, we had a thrilling project that used drones, remote sensing, and AI to help identify and eradicate an unsafe plant in Denmark AKA the Giant Hogweed.
Dendra uses similar drone technology to automate seed planting. The drones will scatter seeds of native plants and trees to restore ecosystems.
Both of these projects illustrate how digital transformation has changed planting and vegetation. The technique of using drones and other technologies to manage a farm already has its own name: precision farming.
As ever we are only at the beginning of this journey. With drones, robotics and controlled farming – we will no doubt be adding even more technology to the list that will help to benefit the scales of food production.
The Future of Agriculture and Horticulture
We are already in the reality of urban farming and it is set to grow. There will be positive knock on effects. The drones are out there doing their job. At itelligence, we are always looking to be bring high tech solutions like AI, machine learning, and big data management to food and crop production industry.
Please contact me if you want to talk me about this in further depth.
Discover More Technologies
Want to know more also about AI, robot process automation, machine learning and IoT? These are complex topics, but let’s take a look into the future together.