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Which Technology Will Most Impact The Future Of Agriculture? 16 Experts Share Their Insights

  • 1 July 2019
  • Sam Mire

Those who work in the agricultural sector are in the business of fueling the world. Without them, there'd be no healthy humans to make the world as we know it continue to spin. Really, farmers and their helpers don't get enough credit.

So why not do your part and find out which technologies will shape the future of agriculture? We even served the answers up on a platter. Here they are:

1. Kevin Lang, General Manager of Agriculture at PrecisionHawk

“Adding artificial intelligence and machine learning to aerial data is having a huge impact on the agriculture industry as it allows business leaders within this space to turn drone data into actionable insights. Leading provider of drone technology for the enterprise, PrecisionHawk recently launched PrecisionAnalytics Agriculture, which applies the latest generation of analytics tools and A.I. to automate plant inventory, size, and health analysis to help agriculture professionals more efficiently, accurately, and safely assess their assets. Having this streamlined system affects not only agriculture in farm management, but also in crop insurance as the technology is creating a more accurate and holistic view of farms by using more precise data.”


2. Jeff Klaumann, CTO of Internet of Things America

“One technology that has seen increased adoption in agriculture is the use of precision agriculture practices that leverage advanced field imaging technology. Remote-controlled drones or tractors can be affixed with special cameras that provide detailed photo analysis of the field, including visualized data for geomorphology/hydrology trends and key biophysical parameters.

Another technology positioned to take the agriculture industry by storm is the Internet of Things and connected sensor technologies. In fact, the number of connected sensors deployed in agriculture is expected to rise from 30 million in 2015 to 75 million by next year (2020).”


3. Emma Weston, CEO and Co-Founder of AgriDigital

Emma Weston“Blockchain technology will significantly impact agriculture through its ability to transform transactions, processes, and relationships between all participants in agri-supply chains – from farmer through to consumer.  As blockchain performs and permanently records transactions between supply chain participants in real time, implementing this technology enables food traceability for consumers – providing information regarding the origin of food and the exact journey it has taken from farm to table.

One of the most significant challenges in agri supply chains is that farmers are often not paid for the commodities they produce when they deliver them for processing.  With critical data around asset ownership and transactions all stored on the blockchain, supply chain participants can transfer commodities with security, can accurately attribute value to those goods, and can recognise financially where that value has been contributed along the supply chain.  This too opens up opportunities for improved access to financing and capital, with financiers able to view vital data around asset ownership.

Blockchain’s potential to impact and improve all aspects and participants across agri-supply chains is why AgriDigital is working with the technology and developing a protocol as part of our commodity management solution for the global grains industry. “


4. Michael “Mr. Hemp ” Bowman, co-founder of First Crop

“I believe that answer is two-fold: CRISPR (gene editing) is driving the next generation of crop seed enhancement and will provide us with a new stable of ‘food as nutrition’ in the ingredient supply chain. That, coupled with the emergence of technology for regional, small-scale, just-in-time production, is going to give us abundant, locally-produced products. Ideally, this combination will deliver price points so that every family in America has access to healthy, nutritionally-dense products.”


5. Darcy Pawlik, VP Global Agriculture at Understory, Inc.

Darcy Pawlik“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are now setting in motion a renaissance in agriculture. These cutting edge technologies are enabling the integration of hundreds of new technologies, machines, services and practices used both on and off the farm, advancing the industry to a point where every aspect of farming will largely be automated. The farmer will evolve into a process engineer or General Manager overseeing his business from the Operations room vs. the cockpit. The key is that today, most of these tools are being used separately, sometimes even in isolation. Yet, as adoption of such tools increases, the ease of use will also continue to increase and it will compel further usage before becoming commonplace and almost by default, integrated.”


6. Raffaele M. Maiorano, Chairman of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR)

Raffaele Maiorano“I believe that the biggest impact will be on water management that hasn't yet been implemented. Water will be the primary problem to solve. And when I mention the water issue, it is both related to the excess due to the unpredictable weather from climate change and to the lack of water desertification. Whoever will be able to control the water supply and weather management tools will survive in the agribusiness sector.”


7. Pauline Canteneur, Business Strategy Analyst at FarmWise

“Artificial intelligence, machine learning in particular, opens new perspective for farming automation. We're now able to build crop detection algorithms that don't solely rely on color or size to identify crops on the fields but that are trained to act as a 3D modelling tool of the plants. This goes into the direction of higher precision, reliability and overall performance of those new kinds of agricultural machines.”


8. Mark Young, CTO & Head of Product, The Climate Corporation (subsidiary of Bayer)

Mark YoungLate last century, we saw incredible advancements in farm machinery, fertilizer and seed technology. The next breakthrough in agriculture – and it’s already starting to happen – will come from using data analytics and predictive tools to optimize decision making on the farm. This means helping farmers optimize crop inputs like seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and water. And in the near future, they’ll be executing those farm plans with highly specialized, autonomous farm equipment. It’s not just about freeing up time and facilitating better harvests for the farmer; it’s also about being as efficient as possible, producing more with less, and doing so in a sustainable and reliable fashion.”


9. Michael Ott, CEO at Rantizo

“The biggest improvement will come from internet access in the field. This
will enable dozens of technologies to work better together. Imagery can be taken and processed. Sensors can detect issues and communicate solutions. Field conditions can be monitored. Precise applications of seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides can be deployed at variable rates to enhance yields with reduced input costs.”


10. Jehiel Oliver, CEO of Hello Tractor

Jehiel Oliver

“The sustainability of the agricultural industry, more than anything else, requires the power of predictive analytics. Predictive analytics works by analyzing statistics derived from data mining and machine learning activities, to understand what has happened in the past on a farm as well as what is currently happening in order to predict what is going to happen in the future. This technology is key for the industry because it greatly increases efficiencies on the farm, helping farmers make otherwise challenging agronomic decisions to increase their productivity and yields.”


11. Oswaldo Loor, Founder and CEO of Shenzhen Drones

“Crop dusting using drones, this will be beneficial for small farmers. Nowadays, it's very difficult to find workers for the fields. With drones, a single farmer can spray 30-40 hectares in one day, saving water, chemical products, time and labor.”

 


12. Josh Siteman, Managing Director at Intravision Light Systems, Inc.

Josh Siteman“Automation.  Automation of high density plant production in enclosed environments at scale is the next step for the industry.  This is especially relevant for the plant based pharmaceutical industry where producing medicine-grade herbs (for example) is extraordinarily difficult.  The chemical potency of each herb can vary greatly, depending on many factors – minerals in the soil, the altitude at which it is grown, when and how it is harvested.  Each cultivar with variances in chemical composition.  So the ability to control a growth environment and express chemical attributes for medicine that can be transferred to a AI production system would change the game; bringing more traditional plant based treatments to market and closing the gap between old traditions and science based medicines.”


13. Ramsay Huntley, VP of Wells Fargo's Clean Technology and Innovation Philanthropy Program

Ramsay Huntley“There is no one single ‘magic bullet’ that the food and agriculture sector can adopt to overcome its fundamental challenges, although we think there is great potential in advancing technologies that improve soil health as a means to help plants obtain nutrition and water naturally and more efficiently (i.e., fewer required applications of fertilizer and chemicals).

This is a particular area of focus for the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator or IN2, a technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. IN2 aims to speed the development and commercialization of technologies that help the agriculture sector overcome barriers and costs of implementing sustainable farming solutions.”

 


14. Meg Kummerow, Owner of Fly the Farm

Meg Kummerow“Despite my particular interest in drones, I don't believe they will have the biggest impact in ag. And to be honest, I'm not sure one technology will singularly have the ‘largest impact' on our industry. Well, that is until climate and weather control become widely available! To me, technology that brings all aspects of the farm and wider region ecosystem, from soil microbes to weather and climate, together in a wholistic manner will have an enormous impact on the profitability and more importantly environmental (followed by improved consumer perceptions) outcomes for agriculture and humanity.

CRISPR will have a great impact on many of the outcomes we are currently seeking around production and nutrition constraints within ag.”


15. Pat Rogers, founder of AgFuse

“In my opinion, one of the highest impact future ag technologies you will see with widespread adoption is having cellular MTG's on equipment which can communicate operational data to a cloud server which then is shared with a farmer's (or agronomist's) farm management platform. On one hand, it will help individual farmers better manage their farms, but the really exciting possibility is that it could potentially turn every farm into a virtual research farm by comparing operational practices (seed varieties, soil types, fertilizer rates, etc) and resulting yield impacts. This will allow farms to harness and optimize their big data.”


16. Vibor Cipan, CEO and co-founder of Point Jupiter

Vibor Cipan“I don't believe there is a single technology that will have the most significant impact. The system is far too complicated – it can't be relegated to a choice of any one technology. Synergistic effects of automation and artificial intelligence will probably drive most of the innovation and come with measurable impacts. Autonomous machinery (tractors, UAVs) will successfully replace people and let them focus on more important and critical tasks. That's the area where artificial intelligence will shine. It will use data from (in-situ) sensors as well as remote sensing data (sat imagery) and couple it with weather forecasting models (like GFS, WRF or ECMWF) with high local resolution. The result could be a set of highly actionable insights enabling the climate-smart agriculture of the 21st century and beyond!”

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About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Disruptor Daily. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.

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