I've written about some of the changes coming to the workplace, workforce and overall economy because of the continued proliferation of IoT devices. One area I've found especially interesting as of late is how IoT is helping something near and dear to my heart: food. My father-in-law is a farmer in rural Indiana and, through conversations with him, I've learned about all the pressures being placed on today's farmers. While the average farmer may not be held in high regard by a layperson, the truth of the matter is these are individuals who often run multimillion dollar businesses and can handle all the complexities and challenges that come with it. Increasingly, both the agriculture industry and individual farmers must rely on technology to overcome business challenges.
A Finish startup has been climbing the walls during the pandemic. At least the crops it helps grow in vertical gardens have been, including greens, berries, and vegetables in areas like the Middle East. Vertical farming, which utilizes vertically-stacked layers of crops grown in climate-controlled facilities, utilizes significantly less water and soil than traditional agriculture. Increasingly we're seeing examples of the concept scaling to industrial-levels, which is good news with populations booming, arable land in ever-shorter supply, and waning interest in agriculture among city-bound youth. The company believes it's entering a market primed for steep growth.
When you think of automation, you probably think of the assembly line, a dramatic dance of robot arms with nary a human laborer in sight. The grandest, most disruptive automation revolution has played out in agriculture. First with horses and plows, and eventually with burly combines--technologies that have made farming exponentially cheaper and more productive. Just consider that in 1790, farmers made up 90 percent of the US workforce. In 2012, it was 1.5 percent, yet America still eats.
The oldest profession in the world (or the second oldest, depends on who you ask) is in for a makeover with IoT technology. Smart farming, an extension of precision agriculture, can increase total yield by up to 5% and total profits by up to 20%. In precision agriculture, "Internet of Things" devices, global positioning and new technologies are used. Their job is to measure and respond. With this, we might be able to tackle the challenges of the future in enhancing how we produce and manage food.
Of all UK industries, farming could lose or gain the most from Brexit. At worst Brexit could devastate the farming sector; on average 60% of farm incomes come in the form of EU subsidies. The think-tank Agra Europe estimates that without subsidies 90% of farms would collapse and land prices would crash. So far no one has said the subsidies will be taken away, or even that they will shrink. Indeed, the government has promised to match them up until 2020.