Digital Agriculture: What it is and Why it’s Important for Farmers

The agriculture industry grows and changes just like any other business. As technology advances, the tools and processes that are common in the ag industry advance as well. When you hear the term digital agriculture, you might think of some kind of social network of farmers.

No, it’s not a game your Facebook friends keep pestering you to play. Digital Agriculture is the use of technology in ways that improve production and productivity in the ag field.  Some of these applications might include advanced machinery or robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced packaging, biotechnology, monitoring, data collection and measurement, and much more.

Let’s look at a few of the recent applications to the farming industry:

Animal Identification and Health Monitoring

When an animal is stressed or injured, the speed at which they receive care is very important. Monitoring their health using new technology like biometric sensors or electronic identification devices helps the overall health of livestock and increases rapid response to any issues.

Machinery and Robotics

Many farming industries are introducing robotics to their processes. The dairy industry, for example, uses robotics to utilize autonomous feeding, milking, and cleaning practices. Hatcheries benefit from automatic egg collection and sorting–tasks that used to take workers much longer now done automatically. Along with the shortening of chores and ease of completion, these technologies help detect and treat potential health issues.

Higher Crop Yields with Satellite Imagery

When it comes to crops and harvesting, farmers use satellite imagery to determine details like soil moisture and seeding rates. Some also use infrared light and heat sensors to monitor irrigation efforts, pest control, and fertilizer use. These advances produce less waste and higher yields at the end of the season.

The main goal if digital agriculture is to make the best use of time and resources in the most effective ways possible. Improving on the practices farmers use to maintain their livestock and fields produce benefits that ripple throughout the world.

As the industry grows, more and more advancements appear, though they carry such a high price tag, they are still out of reach for many farmers. Because most of these technological processes are relatively new, it will take collaboration and wider use to become more available to a broader audience.


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