Technology use grows in connected agriculture

By Louis Eksteen

For centuries farming has been at the forefront of technological development. I’m a fan of Jethro Tull the rock band, but the real Jethro Tull was a renowned agricultural technology innovator. Mr Tull revolutionised seed planting methodologies, amongst other significant agricultural achievements. He would have thrived in today’s connected agriculture world.

These days, farmers need to keep as up to date with technology as they do with the advances in planting and breeding methods. Tractors are advanced, computerised vehicles, with connectivity providing pin-point accuracy about where to drive go and what to do.

Electric and/or self-driving cars are all the range in pop-tech circles, but imagine a driverless tractor that runs on solar electricity, ploughing through the night. Connected agriculture can deliver significantly improved efficiencies in this way.

Farming drones

Drones have fantastic potential in farming. Imagine being able to monitor your 2 000 ha sable breeding farm from your office at the homestead via a 4K big screen and joystick. (If the American military can use drones for precision missions, so can you.)

Sure, you need connectivity to make it all work, but don’t be surprised to see farmers digging trenches for fibre cables along with game fencing in future. A large area WiFi system (similar to what’s being rolled out in suburbs and cities around the world) is currently hugely expensive, but can save significantly in travel cost through remote monitoring. (In South Africa there are safety benefits to consider as well.)

Importantly, the major factor preventing large-scale use of farming drones is government regulation of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs), better known as drones.

Overseas the use of drones in connected agriculture has increased significantly. This sub-sector of farming management has introduced a new level of science to farming, through drone-to-tractor workflows and other monitoring procedures.

Internet in agricultural marketing

Apart from the use of connected agriculture technologies in the production of food, farming organisation are also using the internet and its associated benefits for marketing purposes. Farmers who can establish their own route to markets can benefit from direct selling without the cost of intermediaries.

It can’t practically work for commodity goods, but for boutique farming activities such as selective scarce game breeding, for instance, establishing solid digital brands can do wonders for farmers. Websites, email marketing and social media is increasingly important for game farmers interested in reaching their markets directly.

Impact of technology in farming

Some observers believe technological advances in farming can literally change the world. As is the case with many industries, connectivity and technology impacts on farming by making systems and procedures quicker, easier and more efficient, leading to smaller land areas producing more food for our growing population.

Connected agriculture makes the whole world a better place.