What is meant by smart farming?
Smart farming is the use of digital tools like the Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Drones in managing farms’ daily operations. Smart farming can also be termed digital agriculture or e-agriculture.
Incorporating smart farming enhances productivity by increasing the quality and quantity of farm yields more than the traditional methods of farming. Digital agriculture depends on electronic data collected for on-farming activities during and after farm production.
Unlike precision farming, digital agriculture extends to the e-commerce of agriculture products, electronic extension services, traceability technologies, receipt generating systems, warehouse management systems, and the likes of farm mechanization rental software applications.
Precision farming uses tools like GPS guidance systems, yield mapping, and variable-rate application to guide on-farm activities at the production stage. In simple terms, precision farming ends right after the production stage while digital agriculture or smart farming impacts the entire ecosystem of agriculture.
The importance of smart farming?
The use of advanced technologies in precision farming can measure qualities like fertility gradient, soil sensory, moisture content, etc. Knowing these qualities as a farmer put you in a better position (knowing what crop will grow well on a piece of land without incurring extra cost) to know your production inputs and potential output.
Applying smart farming in the greenhouse makes it easy to control the switch for irrigation, humidity, and temperature. Monitoring crops’ nutrient levels and pest management has become more easier and effective with digital farming. Also, precision farming enables the application of accurate fertilizer to a crop.
In livestock production, digital farming technologies enable farm owners to assess farm animals’ nutrition levels with respect to accurate compounding of animal feed with the right nutrient levels. Dairy producers reduce labor on farms by employing agricultural robots in milking cows.
Another on-farm efficiency notable in e-agriculture is the use of digital apps such as “tro tro” tractors, Uber for tractors, WeFarmUp, Hello Tractor, MachineryLink Solutions, and other services for farm equipment rentals which enable farmers to access farm equipment on time and at affordable prices to facilitate farm works.
Digital farming extends from the production stage to after production. Agro produces as vegetables and fruits will perish after long days of harvest. The use of digital platforms matches buyers to sellers of agro produce to facilitate marketing hence enhancing off-farm efficiency.
By the use of e-agriculture services, the government can reduce the cost of transacting subsidized farm inputs and distribution to farmers nationwide.
In Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development began distributing fertilizer subsidy coupons to mobile phone e-wallets in 2011. By 2013, 4.3 million smallholders nationwide had received them. From US$225–$300 to US$22, the price per smallholder farmer receiving fertilizer reduced drastically.Tarazi, Michael; Grossman, Jeremiah (1 June 2014). “Serving smallholder farmers : recent developments in digital finance”
Digital agriculture has the ability to disseminate price information since the marginal cost of digital information delivery is getting closer to zero. In particular for rural markets and perishable items. e-agriculture service can bridge the gap between farmers in rural areas and the agriculture industry.
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