Technology has played a critical role in every aspect of business in the past years, and farming is no exception. The widespread adoption of innovations in agriculture is not surprising. Farming is mostly labor- and land-intensive. Farmers need technology to improve efficiency and control cost. As a result, the integration of agricultural and digital technology gave birth to new agricultural concepts and terminology.
Agricultural technology has caused modern farming systems to emerge, from aerial spraying drones, moisture sensors, and agricultural robots to weather tracking and other innovations that reshaped farming. These technological solutions have paved the way for new farming terms, such as smart farming, digital farming, and precision farming. Despite being used interchangeably, these terms have different ways of embracing technology-based farming.
In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at the emerging terminologies in agricultural technology and how they will revolutionize farming as a whole. Take note of its subtle differences and discover their role in making farming a more sustainable industry.
In traditional farming, farmers apply the same amount of fertilizers, pest control, and irrigation at recommended frequencies and times. These prescribed rates depend on the region or plant variety. Despite these recommendations, farmers are aware of the differences in the agricultural field. Some parts require better yield, while other patches need very little. This depends on the differences in shade, soil, slope, and other factors.
Micro-differences in biological, chemical, and physical soil features affect the fertility and availability of plant nutrients. While slope affects the retention of water in the soil, biological stress also occurs. Weeds and soil diseases emerge within the same area because of seeds and tubers. Thus, farmers don’t expect every crop to have the same growing conditions because of the lack of uniformity across the growing area.
This is where precision farming comes in to help farmers recognize these innate differences and provide treatment and nutrients uniformly. It optimizes output by identifying the subtle spatial differences in farming and prevents incorporating many resources into healthy patches and addresses the lack of resources to poor patches. By putting treatment and fertilizers at suggested rates, precision farming prevents the overuse of chemicals and waste of money.
Smart farming is the application of data and information technologies to optimize complex agriculture systems. It focuses on data access and the use of collected information efficiently. The main objective is to enhance the quantity and quality of agricultural products while improving human labor. In other words, smart farming is all about producing more yields in the same amount of land but with lesser investment.
Unlike precision farming, smart farming doesn’t focus on precise measurement and field differences, rather on the collection, application, and access of data in a smart way. It’s not only concerned with individual machines but the entire farming operations, such as soil condition, terrain, weather, climate, manpower, funding, and resource usage.
Modern tools used in smart farming vary from artificial technology (AI) and drones to robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). These tools allow farmers to perform a range of agricultural activities with ultimate convenience and make better decisions for the entire farm. They also enhance farming automation to promote sustainability, quality improvements, and production efficiency.
Smart farming benefits big agricultural corporations and organic farms, family farms, and smaller farming operations. The whole process is sensor-monitored and software-managed, increasing overall yield, reducing overall prices, and boosting quality and customer experiences.
Digital farming is a mixture of smart and precision farming—the constant application of the methods used in smart and precision farming, external and internal farm networking, and the use of Big Data analyses with web-based data platforms. Concretely, it applies modern technologies to encourage farmers to make optimal decisions in the field and produce harvests sustainably.
For example, digital farming aids in crop nutrition to find the best fertilization program for each field and help farmers decide the right amounts and respond to field variations.
The role of digital farming depends on forming value using data. It goes beyond data availability and presence to enhance actionable intelligence and obtaining value from existing data. It provides the opportunity to enhance farming production, eliminate risks, and save long-term costs.
Technology is fast evolving, and large industries such as farming must take advantage of its capabilities to enhance modern agriculture as a whole. Knowing how to incorporate the right tech solutions can make a big difference in how farmers respond to agriculture’s societal and economic challenges. In this case, understanding the roles of emerging farm concepts can help farmers, economists, and entrepreneurs to utilize technology in their respective industries.