In the United States alone, there are more than 2 million farms which individually produce, on average, enough food to feed 166 people around the world each year. As the global population continues to grow, farmers are working to increase their yield in order to meet the increasing demand for their products. To achieve this goal, farmers are working to increase their usage of technology to not only produce more food but also to ensure their farmland, produce, and livestock are in top shape.
Put simply, precision farming refers to the practice of integrating technology to promote efficiency and health through observation and analysis of critical data. From measuring soil quality and weather forecasts to the weight of livestock, precision farming technology helps farmers more accurately care for their farms in productive, efficient, and sustainable ways. The Indian company SatSure utilizes the Internet of Things (IoT) and satellite analytics to provide insights into crop health and financial security to farmers; this information can help farmers make better decisions when it comes to several aspects of farming such as irrigation and harvesting.
Agriculture technology aims to improve many aspects of farming, including the health and welfare of livestock. In many ways, the health of animals relates directly to other areas of farming including sustainability, yield, profit, and customer satisfaction. Because of this, farmers want to ensure their animals are as healthy as possible, and that is where data analysis can help. Gathering data that measures things like animal weight, temperature, and diet can provide a means of assessing livestock health, both individually and collectively. Through analysis, farmers can learn how the health of their animals stems from their food intake and their environment and can make adjustments as necessary. Artificial intelligence can be used to sort through massive amounts of data and identify accurate points, recognize genuine patterns, and produce conclusions for farmers to act on.
Farmers have also begun to use technology to detect, prevent, and track the spread of diseases, viruses, and parasites. Because many recent epidemics, such as Ebola and West Nile virus, have been zoonotic, the health of animals directly correlates to the health of farmers and consumers.
Animal health directly relates to the efficiency, cost, and sustainability of a farm. Healthy animals require less specialized care and can consume products that are not fit for human consumption, resulting in lower amounts of waste.
In the farming industry, sustainability has become a hot topic. From reducing methane emissions to limiting the amount of waste produced, farmers are constantly working toward sustainable solutions that retain efficiency and quality of products. Researchers believe that data plays a major role in the development and integration of sustainable practices. Documenting, analyzing, and understanding the relationship between animal health, economics, and the environmental impact of a farm will be critical for conceptualizing and actualizing sustainable solutions.
In the United Kingdom, the company ZELP has developed wearable technology for cattle that not only neutralizes methane emissions but also collects information pertaining to the quantification of emissions, herd management, and animal health. Because cattle farming is responsible for around 40 percent of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, technology like this can help reduce the environmental impact while also providing data for farmers to better understand the correlation between cattle health and emissions.
The use of data analytics in farming is not new, but as technology continues to advance, farmers are working to integrate more technological elements into their practices. In doing so, farmers strive to achieve greater efficiency, quality, and sustainability with their farms to better provide to the people they feed.