Smart Farming: Technologies In Agriculture (Complete Guide)

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.

Smart Farming

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.

Types of smart farming

1) Digital communications technologies

Digital farming employs the use of digital communication technologies like mobile phones. The use of mobile phones helps in easy access to information over a long distance. Smartphones on the other side allow the use of the internet in accessing extension services via mobile applications and internet connectivity. Smartphones also make it easier for farmers to reach consumers via e-commerce platforms.

2) Digital platforms

Well-known digital platforms like eCommerce platforms, agriculture advisory mobile apps, and e-extension platforms help farmers to get access to one-on-one chat with extension services online, and trading of farm commodities online.

3) Precision agriculture technologies

Precision agriculture technologies enable producers to optimize production with accurate data collection in the field. Precision farming can determine potential yields per given data related to production inputs, environmental conditions, farming techniques, and machine efficiency. Below is a list of precision agriculture technologies.

List of precision agriculture technologies

Sensor technologiesSoil sensors
Food sensors
Guidance and tracking systemsGlobal Positioning System (GPS)
Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
Internet of Things (IoT)
Advanced imaging technologiesSatellite and drone imagery
Temperature gradients
Fertility gradients
Moisture gradients
Automated machineryRobots
Variable-rate input technologiesData Engineering
Automatic section controlIrrigation systems
Humidity controls
Temperature controls

4) Crop management systems

Crop management systems are some of the greatest breakthroughs in smart farming technologies. Greenhouses employ using crop management systems to manage essential elements for high yields in crops like temperature, humidity, and irrigation.

5) Livestock management systems

Large modern farms use livestock management systems to track the nutrition levels of farm animals, monitor their health conditions, and also help detect when farm animals need special attention.

6) Weather forecasting systems

Agriculture activities are one hundred percent on-field engagement. In most developed countries, weather forecasting in agriculture is of high priority such that, experts relay current weather conditions in other to plan an effective production season.

The importance of smart farming?

On-farm efficiency

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.

Off-farm efficiency

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.

Benefits of smart farming

In summary, the benefits of smart agriculture include;

  1. Increased farm yields.
  2. Lower production costs.
  3. Increase on-farm and off-farm efficiencies.
  4. Real-time and intelligent cost management in monitoring farm production.
  5. Easy access to farm equipment at reasonable prices.
  6. Quick dissemination of information through e-extension services.

Source:PoultryABC.com

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