Technologies that changes efficiency in agriculture
With the advent of Technology, the farming industry has also evolved throughout the past couple of decades. Agriculture has advanced in technology and has started using different types of techniques for farming which has not only increased the efficiency of crops, but has also helped the farmers to grow high quality crops all throughout the year. These technologies help them monitor and control the environment required for the better production of crops.
Traditional farming technique is an old method of growing crops which has limited advantages, the farmers had to wait for the correct season to grow the respective crops, they had to settle proper irrigation channels and add proper nutrient supplement to the soil and wait for a long duration for harvesting them. Also they had to manage the crops for better growth, but as these modern technologies have taken place, the farmers have become so much satisfied and relaxed. They don’t have to wait for the growing season of the crops, they arrange everything artificially. The sunlight is managed through artificial lightnings, there are also many crop management techniques, they have so much of modern farming techniques which doesn’t requires soil for growth where the nutrients are sprayed directly to the roots of the plants, as in the methods of hydroponics, aeroponics or aquaponics.
Agriculture has not remained the same as before, it has become so technical, and also, it requires a lot of experienced and well trained farmers and engineers who can manage the growth of crops and monitor the system.
Need of Technology in Agriculture
Human population is increasing day by day and since the resources are limited, we need to practice some sustainable farming techniques tk meet the future demands. Also, the arable land is decreasing due to urbanization and industrialization and we have got very little place for agriculture, and with the growing population there will be increase in the demand of food and due to this, there is a much higher requirement to move to modern farming techniques because the traditional farming has limited yield of crops and require larger spaces for farming.
So, for meeting the needs of the future there is a very huge demand to use the innovative technologies and modern techniques of farming so as to feed the growing population.
The agriculture industry has started facing challenges as the cost of supplies are rising, there is a shortage of labour and also the consumer preferences are changing day by day for transparency and sustainability. So to meet the needs of the customers there is a requirement for modern practices as these technologies help to produce more crops in less space of land and the quality of crops being much organic and disease free.
Technologies used in Agriculture
The utilisation of Science and Technology in agriculture cannot be overemphasized as they have greatly led to increased productivity of crops. Farmers can now increase the productivity of their crops through hybrid seeds and using some new technologies and discoveries.
These technologies have made it possible to predict the climatic condition that is best suited and required for various crops. A few technological innovations have played a major role in making the agricultural sector very productive such as the development of genetically modified crops, drones, the Internet of Things, refrigerated rail cars etc.
Here we are discussing about the major 3 of them, i.e. Vertical farming, Genetic modification and 3D printing.
- Vertical Farming
Vertical farming is a modern farming technique which uses Controlled Environment Agriculture Technology. It is a practice of producing food in the form of vertically stacked layers where these layers are integrated in various structures like skyscrapers, reallocated warehouses and shipping containers, rather than farming on field, or greenhouses as in traditional farming techniques.
Vertical farming uses very less space to produce crops. The utilisation of water and energy resources are also decreased and produce a more sustainable form of food. In vertical farming the temperature, light and humidity is controlled artificially and the natural sunlight is extended through metal reflectors and artificial lighting.
How vertical farming has increased efficiency in Agriculture
- Food security: Vertical farming creates a closed packed and self-sufficient ecosystem which not only covers functions for production of food but also focuses on waste management. The food is produced in a structured and sustainable manner and produces good quality and healthy food. The world’s population is going to increase by 40% in the near future so we need at least 70% more food to meet the demands, so we highly need to adopt this modern farming.
- Climate Change: Traditional farmers use fossil fuels to run the machinery that emits greenhouse gases which leads to climatic change destroying large tracts of arable land and making it useless for farming. Vertical farming reduces the use of machinery and due to this it won’t affect the climate and also as it is a closed packed type of farming which is performed in a controlled environment so climatic changes doesn’t affect it.
- Space efficient: Vertical farming produces food in vertical stacks which doesn’t require large farms and about 2 ha of land area has the efficiency to produce about 970 ha of crop yield.
- Ecosystem: Vertical farming doesn’t use lots of machinery which would emit harmful gases so we can say that it reduces the CO2 emission and also eliminates fertilizer runoff and any coastal and river water could be restored, and marine life could also increase.
- Economic Development: Vertical farming provides support to the local economy as it is located in urban areas and the produced crops are delivered directly to the consumer thus reducing any gap of food cost or transportation costs.
The process of altering the genetic material (DNA) in an organism in such a way that it does not occur naturally by mating or recombination is called Genetic modification in an organism or GMO.
Genetic modification in agriculture is such a point where technology combines with nature to bring out the best possible output. DNA is either added or removed from a specific plant to produce multiple new traits which was not found in that organism before. Genetic modification is the new way to revolutionize agriculture which could not have taken place by breeding naturally or any such kind of natural recombination.
In plants genetic modification is often carried out to improve the ability of plants to survive in certain harsh environments, also to provide greater resistance to pests and diseases, to improve some nutritional qualities, and also to create tolerance to certain herbicides. These plants are also developed to produce compounds of certain potential industrial use.
Role/Pros of GM in agriculture
- It increases nutrition benefits by adding Minerals and vitamins wire modification process which provides great health benefits to the consumers.
- GMO adds flavour to the crops.
- By altering DNA, it generates more healthier crops by increasing resistance to insects and pests and it also lowers the risk of crop failures as the seeds can resist any type of harsh climate and it also provides longer shelf life and ensures transport of seeds to other countries as well.
- The plants are encoded with vaccines in its gene providing it more resistance to unexpected diseases.
- The crops in genetic modification don’t require much chemicals, land and machinery which helps to reduce environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers can have enhanced productivity without the use of any chemicals.
- Molecular biology and genetics are combined to produce vaccines, proteins and other Pharmaceutical products which replaces the use of chemicals in medicine.
3D printing technology
3D printing is a method of creating a three dimensional object from CAD models. It is also known as ‘additive manufacturing’ where the layers of materials are added one by one using a computer created design to create a physical part. 3D printing produces functional shapes without using many materials as in traditional manufacturing methods and it also creates less material wastage.
3D printing helps the farmers to print the default part in case of any system breakdown and use it without affecting the productivity of crops which actually boost their proper fields as they cannot produce any type of tools that they need.
3D printing works in the favour of farmers where they can turn the technology according to their need. It helps them to reduce material wastage and decrease the cost of farming. Furthermore, the sensors and drones help them to provide information on soil, pests and weather which help them produce higher yield with lower wastage.
Role & Benefits of 3D printing in Agriculture
3D printing is a very advanced form of printing technology which provides an image of reality to the farming industry and its professionals with respect to their products and helps them evaluate and modify their designs at a lesser price.
In the agriculture sector, farmers are utilizing this technology due to its extraordinary benefits which if done through any other technique, could burn their pockets.
To mention some of the benefits, we have:
- Mass customization of tools which are manufactured digitally and with a perfect design as required for your farming.
- Printing of devices as per demand and in rural areas too.
- Solving problems of irrigation by printing polymer pipes with various sprinklers so that water could reach to every plant at the same time and could save water.
- Strong and lightweight parts.
- Cost effective and ease of access.
- Minimizes waste with the help of sensors and drones which informs them about soil, pests and diseases and leads to higher productivity with less wastage.
- Monitor the crops using 3D printed drones and sensors.
The future of 3D printing is very bright. However, many applications of this technology are still to be made possible in the agriculture sector and it has a lot to offer to it.
Agriculture sector has still more to be offered as there are many techniques and technologies regularly coming into action which not only changes the way of farming but also increases the yield and becomes a helping hand for the farmers and professionals.
Every technology is two faced, one with pros and other with cons. Here, the above mentioned technologies too have their cons and certain limitations, but it has too many benefits, in regard to which it can be neglected and somehow minimised by proper understanding and guidance by the professionals.
The main motive of every farmer is to produce higher yields of their crops with low maintenance and investment with a higher revenue and these technologies help them to achieve this. So these are very much in demand in the agricultural sector and many more are still to come.