Is Digital Farming the Key to Sustainable Agriculture?

In 2018 alone, the smart agriculture market – think everything from precision farming and smart greenhouses to GPS and drones – is estimated to be worth $7.53 billion. It’s expected to reach $13.50 billion by 2023. And, globally, the burgeoning industry is only going to be more critical for the farms of the future. Here’s how:

IF, IN EARLIER TIMES, farming was a trade passed down from one generation to another, the farmers of tomorrow are coming well equipped with digital knowledge and skills. Over the past 30 years, tech- and innovation-focused sustainable agriculture has moved from the academic fringe to become a major trend in higher education.

Beyond standard degree programs, the United States Department of Agriculture now lists another 140 sustainable agriculture offerings at colleges and universities across the U.S. — including online courses, post-grad classes, certificates and workshops. It’s a reflection of increasing millennial interest in building healthier and more holistic food systems. This research approach is bearing fruit, finding groundbreaking solutions in the field.

TECHNOLOGIES IN THE SKY are helping growers to make better decisions about how they manage their crops at ground level. Today, they can call upon sophisticated tools such as satellites and drones that capture high-resolution images of land quickly.

Images can then be processed to help farmers make crucial decisions about their crops, such as what they should plant, and when and where they should plant it. According to Global Market Insights, the agricultural drone market will be worth over $1 billion by 2024. Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch is expecting the sector to generate 100,000 jobs in the U.S. and $82 billion in economic activity between 2015 and 2025.

Having reams of data collected by satellites and drones is all well and good, but making sense of it is another challenge altogether. It’s why the concept of digital farming has become so important in recent years. It uses data collection, data storage, analytics and decision modeling to unlock farming's potential.

“Digital technologies are rapidly transforming agriculture: data, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and overall farm management help save farmers time and money, and enable unprecedented precision and efficiency,” says Dan Burdett, who leads Syngenta’s global Digital Agriculture work. 




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