Technology in agriculture: how it is now and how it will be in the future

19 November 2021

To this day, agriculture remains the basis of food production and the mainstay of food availability for world’s population. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, more than 2.5 billion people around the world depend on agriculture, hunting, fishing or forestry for their livelihoods, which represents 42% of the world’s population.

Throughout history, the notable improvements in the agricultural sector, as well as the progressive mechanisation of the countryside, have served to improve the production techniques and methods and the quality of the products, thus increasing production.

However, despite the latest agricultural innovations, the challenges faced by the sector are growing and agriculture will have to face new problems in the short term, such as climate change, population growth and less availability of arable land.

In this context, agricultural technology is already offering new tools to address these issues, helping to increase production while reducing costs and environmental impact. And this technological revolution is undoubtedly emerging as one of the great solutions of the future to continue solving these problems.

Smart farming, a trend that will shape the future of the sector

Smart agriculture is basically the application of new technologies to the agricultural sector, incorporating the latest innovations in different areas such as cultivation or machinery. The aim is to optimise resources and improve decision-making by obtaining and analysing data through these technological innovations.

We are talking about a growing trend that will surely mark the future of agriculture. Its advantages are many and varied. Firstly, because of its high level of digitalisation and, secondly, because of its automation. This is what is also known as precision agriculture.

Among the benefits of smart agriculture, we can find the following:

  • More profitability. Costs for resources such as water, energy or fertilisers are minimised and, at the same time, resources are used more intelligently. In addition, this is linked to a higher production quantity and quality.
  • Greater control over crops. Thanks to advances in technology, we can better understand how crops behave in relation to the means of production, improving decision-making.
  • Environmental commitment. New tools reduce the impact on the environment and are much more sustainable, creating much more efficient production processes.

Agriculture 4.0: IoT and Big Data

The revolution in the agricultural sector and the massive use of data has evolved to the point where we can now speak of Agriculture 4.0, where everything is connected.

Environmental sensing, the use of drones and remote sensing, predictive systems, artificial intelligence, traceability and big data are some of the applications that Agriculture 4.0 has brought with it and which will provide the farmer with as much information as possible so that he can have the best options available to avoid failing in his decisions.

IoT (Internet of Things) plays a key role here. For example, connected devices allow farmers to know how their crop is doing in real time and in a simple way.

Process automation will allow farmers to focus on crop studies and reduce time in the field. Through data collection and analysis, all available resources can be optimised, which will eventually result in significant cost reductions and improved product quality.

Finally, the commitment to R+D+i has also been applied to the field machinery, which has made it possible to improve its efficiency. This has resulted in a better productive performance of agricultural work and a greater economic benefit through a more sustainable use of phytosanitary materials, fertilisers and nutrients or seeds.

In terms of technology, modern machinery has also made it possible to introduce new advances in important areas such as variable sowing and fertilisation based on yield maps. Other concepts that have recently been introduced in the agricultural sector thanks to innovation in machinery include the application of phytosanitary products with automatic cutting of sections or by chlorophyll readers, the use of GPS guidance systems and even intelligent irrigation systems.