How Big Data And Tech Will Improve Agriculture, From Farm To Table

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/timsparapani/2017/03/23/how-big-data-and-tech-will-improve-agriculture-from-farm-to-table/#614e9a535989
Tim Sparapani – Forbes CONTRIBUTOR

How Big Data And Tech Will Improve Agriculture, From Farm To Table

There’s nothing more important than our food supply. America is a country synonymous with wheat farms and orange trees. But according to McKinsey & Company, about a third of food produced is lost or wasted every year. Globally, that’s a $940 billion economic hit. Inefficiencies in planting, harvesting, water use and trucking, as well as uncertainty about weather, pests, consumer demand and other intangibles contribute to the loss. On the consumer end, inadequate packaging and labeling can lead to waste and potentially life-threatening illness due to food-borne pathogens.

These are problems desperately in need of solutions and many of those solutions can be found in emerging technologies.

Big data is moving into agriculture in a big way. Need proof? Several well-known investors recently dropped a combined $40 million into Farmers Business Network, a data analytics startup. Venture capital has flooded the ag tech space, with investment increasing 80% annually since 2012, as investors realize big data can revolutionize the food chain from farm to table.

Sensors on fields and crops are starting to provide literally granular data points on soil conditions, as well as detailed info on wind, fertilizer requirements, water availability and pest infestations. GPS units on tractors, combines and trucks can help determine optimal usage of heavy equipment. Data analytics can help prevent spoilage by moving products faster and more efficiently. Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, can patrol fields and alert farmers to crop ripeness or potential problems. RFID-based traceability systems can provide a constant data stream on farm products as they move through the supply chain, from the farm to the compost or recycle bin. Individual plants can be monitored for nutrients and growth rates. Analytics looking forward and back assist in determining the best crops to plant, considering both sustainability and profitability. Agricultural technology can also help farmers hedge against losses and even out cash flow.

The software market for…

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