Agriculture is and can be a very tricky business. Dusty, dry, wet, dirty, cold, and very hot, even worse, harsh climate.
Technology is a big help to agricultural production as it gives confidence in a “world” full of uncertainty.
The problem is that the technology can be pretty fragile. GPS systems are very dependent on meteorological conditions. Sometimes conditions remind us of how fragile modern technology can be.
Technology delays agricultural activity can be extremely frustrating and stressful for any reason. Of course, things are getting better, and the breaks are also less frequent.
The value of agricultural technology lies in the fact that it supports decision-making on the farm. The problem is that any technology in inexperienced hands can easily support bad decisions.
Every day new technologies become available to the farmer. Farmers need to know the pros and cons of technology in agriculture.
Table of Contents
Pros of Technology in Agriculture
Technology has profoundly changed work relationships in rural areas, from weather forecasting to livestock control through digital applications, including mechanization to combat pests.
Understand better how the new tools have brought significant advantages to field operations.
1. Time optimization
Time is optimized as technology can bring more performance to operations. The producer performs crop rotation schemes with higher quality and faster, adding value with other solutions he had not used until then.
The automation of operations, for example, is a way to save time. Repetitive tasks with no strategic value no longer have an operator’s direct and constant intervention.
The farmer starts to pay attention to situations of more significant impact on his operations.
2. Reduction of losses
Technology can help because it contributes to the number of inputs being dosed for crop growth and crop health.
One of the main aspects that the new field tools have great importance is to consider the heterogeneity of the areas and, through the variability in the applications, place only what is necessary for each point of the area.
When considering the application of fertilizers, for example, applying too little means limiting the productive potential of a plant.
On the other hand, putting too much fertilizer on the plant can result in waste of resources and environmental contamination.
In this scenario, farmers could waste pesticides and seeds, and the business loses its potential for profitability.
Therefore, it is necessary to seek greater precision in operations, something that technology is capable of providing.
Technology can help the producer reduce production costs and thus find an opportunity to increase his income.
3. Attract the younger generation to agriculture
The National Farmers Union (NFU) argues that new technologies can attract younger, more technically skilled participants to an aging food production workforce.
These findings may allow a broader range of people to engage in agriculture, eliminating oppressive stereotypes through the increased use of machines.
4. Technology inheritance
The agriculture industry and farmers can easily pass on the new technologies unique to agriculture to a new generation. From the day you start farming, you can’t work well.
Good crops will grow by managing with the skillful techniques cultivated from the knowledge and experience accumulated over many years.
In the current situation where people tend to suffer from labor shortages and aging populations, there is also the problem that it is challenging to inherit such agricultural techniques.
However, if the advanced technology of smart agriculture is utilized, new farmers will be able to manage their crops early like experienced farmers.
5. Increased productivity
As is well known, different areas of the same property can present varying productivity levels. And some factors interfere with this, such as:
- Soil fertility
Therefore, it is a mistake to treat all areas equally. After all, the different regions have characteristics that require more specific approaches to guarantee that they extract the maximum from their production.
Traditional methods do not consider this, and all operations, seeding, irrigation, or spraying, are handled similarly on most properties.
New technologies help to map the field according to soil characteristics, such as humidity, climate, and temperature. Thus, the producer can treat each area according to its specific needs.
6. Agriculture and IoT
There are several types of cutting-edge technologies used in agriculture. One of them is “IoT (Internet of Things).” By using IoT, it is possible to understand the needs of consumers.
Knowing what kind of crops are required by consumers makes it possible to effectively produce crops that meet the needs.
It will also be possible to find a more efficient route for distribution that delivers the products produced to consumers.
In addition, it is possible to analyze data such as soil and local climate and perform appropriate work based on it. Many agricultural machines with IoT have been developed.
7. Greater sustainability
The other merit is that the burden on the environment is reduced. The drone technology data accumulation to spray pesticides (recommended: bacillus thuringiensis) can significantly reduce usage.
Furthermore, utilizing new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence(AI) in agriculture can suppress the extra use of liquid fertilizer and carbon dioxide.
By utilizing AI, highly accurate demand forecasting will be possible, reducing food loss and the costs of food production.
Another challenge is to produce more crop variety in the same land space. It is not sustainable for the planet to increase the amount of arable land at the same rate that the demand for healthier food grows.
8. More efficient land use
Today, farmers are utilizing robots in smart farming and agri-biotech applications, making their work easier.
For example, there is the robot Prospero, which already in America places individual corn kernels where they grow exceptionally well.
Or Bonirob, a gray robot on four wheels that scans the ground with a camera and strikes wherever there are weeds.
The agricultural robot, which Osnabruck University of Applied Sciences and the start-up Deepfield Robotics developed, is still in a test phase. But soon, it will prevent farmers from resorting to lethal injections.
9. Real-time monitoring
One of the significant gains of the technology is the possibility of accessing production data remotely and in real-time.
It allows the producer to make quick decisions about operations. For example, it is unnecessary to wait until the end of the harvest to make adjustments.
Sensors can monitor the machine’s status throughout the operation, collecting and sending information about fuel consumption and area already treated.
Thus, it is possible to issue alerts if the vehicle consumes more than usual. These sensors can also indicate the need for irrigation or other types of intervention.
EOS crop monitoring is an example of a digital modern agriculture management tool that can tackle interlinked challenges of farm management, food cost allocation, and saving time.
10. Option to choosing the most suitable technologies
This doubt is normal when faced with this arsenal of technologies: in which tools to invest?
The answer is simple: those that help you solve your production cycle, resistance to insects, and negative impact on the environment.
So, not always the most expensive or sophisticated is suitable for you. On the other hand, investing in technology that falls short of your needs can also harm your operations.
So, to choose agricultural machines and other technologies without error, it is necessary to pay attention to the needs of your industrial agriculture and understand which tools would be essential to solve the main problems or bottlenecks in your production system.
New technologies are emerging daily; some are in the making, so choosing the best one is not challenging.
11. Possibility of having products to supply the market demand
Thanks to technology, it is possible to plan and improve the productivity of the field, avoiding the depletion of the land.
With technology, the state of the land is known -such as its level of hydration and temperature, the growth rate of the plantation, or the premature location of diseases, among other data.
12. Higher quality product
Thanks to the available data, it is possible to know what needs the crops have and at what exact moment to guarantee that the final product is of higher quality.
13. Efficient use of scarce natural resources such as water
Crop monitoring allows knowing the water needs of the land and, thus, programming intelligent irrigation systems.
14. Promotion of green farming
One of the most significant advantages of using technology in agriculture is the possibility of developing greener farming practices to minimize environmental concerns.
Applying technology to the field has an effect in terms of environmental challenges. Pesticide applications promote environmental impact, such as depletion of natural resistance, less nutritional content, death of beneficial insects, and various natural catastrophes.
If the technical assistance provides complete information about the plot and the crop, the farmer can preserve resources and not waste them. He/she can avoid depletion of land and take better care of his land.
Cons of Technology in Agriculture
Technology is making farmer’s life easier and helping consumers by decreasing the retail price of food products.
Still, the technologies also have some limitations about which you must be well informed.
1. Imbalance and Inequality
The benefits of agricultural technology are unlikely to be distributed evenly across society, so some people are likely to lose out.
It is crucial to understand who can lose and what we can do about it and ask broader questions about whether the new technologies will deliver.
The robotic milking of cows is a good example. In a survey, a farmer said that robots improved his work-life balance and allowed the inclusion of workers with disabilities in the rural context.
But the changes also created a “different kind of stress” due to the resulting information overload and the realization that the farmer needed to monitor data 24/7.
2. Risk of replacing old farmers with machine
Existing farm workers at risk of being replaced by a machine or whose skills are inadequate for a new style of farming will inevitably be less enthusiastic about the prospect of change.
They may dislike being forced to spend less time working outdoors, becoming increasingly reliant on machines rather than their knowledge.
3. Costs money to introduce
Technology in agriculture is expected to “reduce the cost of the production process,” but at the moment, the energy costs of introducing machines that perform these tasks are inevitably high.
Another drawback is that it is challenging to predict cost-effectiveness because it is a new technology that has just begun to be used in the agricultural field.
Companies are conducting various research and development toward spreading agricultural technology, but standardization is an issue.
Since each company is conducting research and development with its system and standard, it becomes challenging to operate with each other while maintaining the same standard.
Some technology uses genetic modification to increase crop yields which may cause allergic reactions.
5. Human resources development to utilize these technologies
Expectations for the benefits of technological farming, such as AI for farm work, will increase, but older farmers will not be able to take advantage of these devices immediately.
Even those highly interested in these devices will need a support system to master them. There is an urgent need to develop human resources to convey innovative agriculture technology to people of all ages.
6. Difficult to quantify statistically
The technology that lets AI manage farm work data is not undeveloped.
However, in agriculture, closely related to the natural world, many events are not “constant” for collecting data, such as unexpected weather changes and pest outbreaks.
Due to each country and region’s different soils and climates, it turns out that accumulating high-value data is not easy.
Technical testing and verification patterns can be incomparably tedious compared to other industries.
7. Limited usage
Another disadvantage of using technology in monoculture agriculture is it relies on data collection and management.
However, agriculture is greatly influenced by natural movements such as weather and temperature.
Occasionally, unexpected events that do not exist in the data may occur, making it impossible to respond. And to make full use of innovative farming technology, you must acquire the skills to use it.
Quick Summary (Pros and Cons of Technology in Agriculture)
|Fuel economy, labor optimization
|Dosed and differentiated fertilization
|Timely use of plant protection products
|Rational use of water resources reduces greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere
|Accuracy of processing agricultural land
|Stimulation of technological development of the enterprise
|Larger initial investment
|Shortage of specialists in the agricultural sector who can work with new technologies
|Extra cost for the ongoing maintenance of devices
|Reliability in data collection, management, and analysis
|Operational difficulties for some farmers, especially for the conventional ones
|The unpreparedness of farmers for change as they perceive the introduction of technology with hostility and are afraid of increasing the amount of work
We live in exciting times where our imagination can only limit the scope of technology. As we learn the endless details of our craft as farmers every day, every season, and every life, we will always find technology ready to help and support us in our daily work.
The razor applied to agricultural technology is simple: if it is functional and economical in terms of resources, finances, or time, it is worth it. If it helps, it’s always welcome.
(Last Updated on August 25, 2022)