Artificial intelligence in agriculture is expected to grow exponentially, reaching a global worth of $2.6bn by 2025, new figures state.According to the new research report on the "AI in Agriculture Market by Technology - Global Forecast to 2025", the market is expected to grow by 22.5% to reach $2.6bn by 2025 from $518.7m in 2017.Agriculture, currently one of the world's least digitised major industries, is expected to go through a transformation as data acquisition, agricultural robotics and analytic companies grow.The rapid growth of the AI in agriculture market can be attributed to various factors, including the growing demand for agricultural production owing to the increasing population, rising adoption of information management systems and new, advanced technologies for improving crop productivity.Machine learning-enabled solutions are being significantly adopted by agricultural organisations and farmers to enhance farm productivity and to gain a competitive edge in business ...
Smart farming is not a standalone technology, but more to do with interconnected technologies. The three major technologies that it is connected to are MIS (Management Information Systems), precision agriculture and automation & robotics. MIS is used to collect and process data needed to carry out operations and functions on the farm. It can even store and disseminate data as well. Precision agriculture, on the other hand, is the management of spatial and temporal variability to gain higher returns on investment, so that the environmental impact of these agricultural activities is minimal.
Farming, as a human activity, is thought to be the basis for civilisations and societies dating back 15,000 years, possibly even further back if you believe the ancient alien astronaut theory. In fact, ancient alien astronauts from the Anunnaki race are thought to have introduced Earthlings to farming in the first place, and gifted humans the plough. Whatever its age, farming is still a globally widespread activity today. Indeed, until around 50 years ago, the vast majority of countries around the world were agrarian, meaning their economies and societies were reliant on the income generated by the agricultural sector – not just the food produced by it. Even today, the largest economy in the world – the US – is also the world's largest exporter of food.
This article was originally published as a TechRepublic cover story. Marcus Hall was nine years old when he first drove a tractor on his family's sprawling Iowa farm, eschewing Tonka trucks and Matchbox cars for long rides on heavy machinery. Growing up on a multigenerational family farm is common in an agricultural state like Iowa, where nearly 27 million acres are devoted to cropland--out of the 35 million acres that make up the state. Hall grew up with all the trappings of a future farmer, but a penchant for technology led him down a more experimental path--to the test farm of ag equipment giant John Deere. As manager of the test farm, Hall gets to run field trials of John Deere's high-tech farm equipment before it goes to market. "I just enjoy being out on the tractor," says Hall. "Plus, it's fun being part of this type of technology and the leading edge of what's out there." Download this article as a PDF (free registration required). It's a warm, breezy day in late May 2018, when we meet up with Hall at John Deere's test facility in Bondurant, IA. The farm sits on an unassuming patch of land framed by two-lane roads.
The world's human population currently stands at around 7.6 billion and is projected to reach 11.2 billion by 2100. We will therefore need a food production and distribution system that can accommodate another 3.6 billion people--ideally while consuming as little additional land and leaving as small an environmental footprint as possible, in order to maintain vital ecosystem services and conserve Earth's remaining wildlife. That's clearly a challenge given that around half of the world's habitable land is under agriculture of some kind--with a high proportion of this used for livestock farming (Figure A). Figure A (click to see a larger version). Percentages are based on 2014 figures. In a widely reported recent study, Poore and Nemecek (2018) note that a shift away from meat and dairy consumption would go a long way towards relieving pressure on agricultural land and reducing environmental impact: "Meat, aquaculture, eggs, and dairy use 83% of the world's farmland and contribute 56 to 58% of food's different emissions, despite providing only 37% of our protein and 18% of our calories." Moving to a diet that excludes animal products, say the study's authors, could reclaim 3.1 billion hectares of global farmland (a 76% reduction), while reducing food's greenhouse gas emissions by 6.6 billion metric tons of CO2eq (a 49% reduction), among other environmental benefits. Of course, it will take time to effect a major shift in dietary preferences--primarily in developed countries--and global land use patterns, although emerging technologies like lab-grown meat may have an increasingly important role to play here.