Precision agriculture involves using the latest tools and methods to attend to the specific needs of small sections of crops. Thanks to innovations in agricultural technology, farmers can make more efficient use of their space and resources, boosting overall crop yields in the process.
The following developments represent just a sampling of the advances currently changing the way farmers produce food for both local and global populations:
Most people assume that farms are exclusively located in rural areas. While that has been true for most of history, thanks to vertical farming, it’s becoming easier to convert urban spaces - such as abandoned warehouses or factories - into miniature indoor farms. This allows farmers to produce quality crops for local urban populations, who would otherwise rely on produce that has been shipped to the city.
As the name suggests, vertical farms maximize their small spaces by planting crops in containers and stacking them on top one another. Currently, the process is better for growing small greens, but as indoor growing methods improve, it may soon be possible to grow robust crops of all sorts in this manner.
If vertical farming continues to develop as an effective approach to agriculture, it may help to offset some of the burden that rural farms carry. Most rural farmers must produce food for large geographic areas. Often, there isn’t enough for everybody. Vertical farms can change this. City-dwellers won’t need to rely on distant farms to transport food long distances. As a result, farms can share more of their food with local populations.
Efficient Pesticide Applicators
Agrochemicals play a key a role in boosting the crop yield of a farm. They ensure that crops receive proper nutrients, are protected against pests, don’t have to compete with neighboring weeds for food, and more. That’s why it’s important or farmers to use them efficiently. The more funds they devote to replenishing their supply of agrochemicals, the less able they are to devote those funds to other components of their farms.
Recent technological developments may help to address this issue. In the United States, the Agricultural Research Service, via their Application Technology Research Unit, recently unveiled a new pesticide applicator that could reduce pesticide usage on farms by 50 percent or more.
Pesticide applicators are frequently imprecise. They can only apply the chemical over a general area of crops, potentially wasting chemicals on crops that don’t need any additional pesticides or insecticides.
This new sprayer accurately identifies the overall size and shape of particular sections of crops. It can apply the correct amounts of agrochemicals in a more precise area. Currently, the tool is designed for trees. Perhaps in the future, similar applicators will offer the same benefits to other types of crops.
Ultrasonic Crop Monitoring
It’s often very difficult for farmers to know what growth stage their crops have reached at any given time. For example, a farm may have several acres of corn. Simply looking at the crops doesn’t offer comprehensive information. Some will have reached their full maturity, while others slightly below the canopy may need additional nutrients, resources, or attention before growing to their maximum potential.
Some researchers believe that ultrasonic technology can offer a solution. Ultrasonic echo signals from corn leaves can identify where the canopy is in a group of crops. This allows farmers to more accurately measure the leaf height of their corn crops. Using this data, they can determine if an area of crops is fully grown.
As the technology improves and spreads to other farms, it could dramatically reduce the amount of time farmers spend on assessing the maturity of their produce. Farms of the future may have what can essentially be thought of as echo-location devices installed throughout them. These monitoring stations will relay information to a farmer about the growth stage of the surrounding crops. If the data indicates that they’ve reached full maturity, a farmer will know it’s time to harvest them. On the other hand, if the data shows that the crops need more time to grow to their maximum potential, the farmer will be able to let them do so before harvesting.
For literally thousands of years, agricultural technology has constantly been improved. With each new tool and method comes greater opportunities for farmers to boost crop yields. If you work in the industry, this means increasing revenue through superior efficiency. For the general population, it means more food for everyone. It’s essential for everyone from potential investors to everyday citizens to remember that better agricultural technology is good for the entire world.
When people visualize a farm, most come up with a similar image: sprawling tracts of land in an isolated, rural area. To be fair, for most of history, this has been a fairly accurate assumption. However, agriculture and agrochemical technologies are always changing. Thanks to new advancements in the science of growing food, it’s now possible to operate a legitimate farm in a major urban area.
This isn’t mere speculation. Startups like Edenworks have already demonstrated the concept’s viability.
Edenworks Farms in Brooklyn
Edenworks’ headquarters isn’t an expansive farm out in the middle of nowhere. It’s an 800-square-foot greenhouse adjacent to its office in Brooklyn, New York’s Bushwick neighborhood. The startup shares the building with a metalworking shop below.
Leafy greens thrive in the greenhouse, packed together and stacked vertically. Eventually, Edenworks will harvest these plants and sell them to a nearby Whole Foods grocery store. In the United States, the vast majority of leafy green produce comes from the deserts of California and Arizona. Though these two states have excellent climates for growing fruits and vegetables year-round, water is not abundant, and climate change will only increase water scarcity throughout the region.
In addition, because conventional produce must be shipped long distances, farmers must choose types of plants that have been bred to travel far without becoming damaged. This emphasis on durability means that there’s less focus on growing the varieties that taste the best. A head of lettuce from a traditional farm in California may be able to travel across the country tightly packed in a crate, but it might not be very flavorful.
Companies like Edenworks are striving to change this paradigm by using innovative agricultural techniques to convert large urban spaces, like factories and warehouses, into indoor farms in the middle of the city. Instead of trying to grow durable, travel-friendly produce, their goal is to grow high-quality, great-tasting, nutrient-dense produce for consumers in the area.
This approach doesn’t merely benefit city-dwellers. It’s good for the environment as a whole. The produce no longer needs to be shipped to the city from far-off farms, reducing the carbon footprint of the industry. In addition, Edenworks’ facility uses aquaponics—the plants are grown without soil, in a solution of water and nutrients. These nutrients are provided by waste from tilapia fish kept in tanks on-site. In this way, aquaponics leverages the natural relationship between aquatic animals and plants in the wild.
Aquaponic farming uses less water than traditional farms—in some cases, as much as 90% less. This is due to the fact that the plants are grown in a highly controlled, indoor environment in which evaporation is minimal. Produce grown using aquaponic methods also typically grows faster, allowing farmers to produce more food more quickly.
An Urban Agricultural Revolution
Although the new urban agricultural revolution is still in the early stages, it’s reasonable to assume that it will have a major impact on the agricultural and agrochemical industries on the future.
For example, if this movement gains traction, for essentially the first time in human history, people who live in cities will have easy access to farming jobs without needing to relocate. Because young college graduates often move to cities in the early stages of their careers, this may help to attract more talent to the field of agriculture.
Major universities based in these cities might also expand their agricultural programs.
Universities generally offer academic programs based on major industries in the surrounding areas—doing so ensures that students have opportunities for internships and relevant professional experience during their time in school. In cities, where farms are rarely accessible, universities are less likely to prioritize their agriculture departments. As urban farming becomes more common, their attitudes might shift.
Urban farming could also have a major impact on the agrochemical and precision agriculture markets. In order to more efficiently grow crops in urban environments, farmers must rely on greenhouses, aquaponics, and other methods that differ from those employed on conventional farms. If urban farms do become common, there will be greater demand for products and technologies tailored to their specific needs—such as agrochemicals specifically formulated for commercial greenhouses, or the pumps and tanks that are needed for aquaponic systems. Professionals in the agricultural industries would be smart to pay close attention to the development and growth of the urban agriculture movement. Those who monitor the trend closely will have a better opportunity to address the growing needs of urban farmers early, before the market gets crowded with competition.
As always, the agriculture industry is evolving. For people currently working in the field, it’s an exciting time. For those considering a career in agriculture, it’s perhaps even more exciting, with a whole new set of potential job opportunities waiting to be claimed.
Much has already been said about the way in which the shift from the hunter-gatherer way of life to a more agrarian approach provided the foundation for civilization and society. Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook the fact that agriculture continues to help today’s nations thrive. While those who work in the agriculture and agrochemicals sector may be well aware of the impact that farms have on a country’s citizens, economy, and infrastructure, people outside the industry can easily overlook certain essential truths.
It’s important not to. Lawmakers - and the citizens who vote for them - must always remember the role that agriculture plays in a nation’s growth. Major points to consider include the following:
Agriculture and the Economy
Among developed nations, Russia has an unusually fast-growing agricultural sector. On the whole, this has had a positive effect on the country’s economy, largely due to the fact that an increased emphasis on farming boosts a nation’s exports. The more food a country can grow, the more food that country can sell to other nations. This general principle applies to any country where agriculture is prioritized.
Within a nation’s borders, farms also contribute to economic growth by providing citizens with employment opportunities. Although there are seemingly countless jobs within the agriculture and agrochemical industries, some of which can be outsourced, the actual work of farming can’t be outsourced to citizens of other countries. The people who manage or tend to a farm must be on the property.
Granted, it is true that technological innovations will almost certainly impact the role that human labor plays on farms. Some farmers already use aerial drones and unmanned agricultural equipment to monitor crops and perform basic tasks that once required a human being. However, that does not mean that farming is at any risk of becoming totally automated. It simply means that there will soon be a shift in the roles that humans play on a farm.
Many have already observed this shift, noting that more farmers are focusing on precision agriculture, a general term referring to the implementation of new techniques, technologies, and methods designed to maximize the growth potential of small sections of crops. Precision agriculture requires human workers to closely monitor crops. As automated equipment continues to take over certain basic tasks, the human labor of a farm won’t become redundant; people will merely take on a different set of responsibilities.
Additionally, people will still be involved in maintaining and repairing all this new equipment, ensuring that agriculture continues to offer jobs to citizens of a given nation.
Improving Infrastructure and Technology
There are several reasons why many farmers have been slow to adopt some of the innovations mentioned above. Poor infrastructure is a main one.
For example, unmanned aerial drones that relay information about the condition of a section of crops rely on mobile networks in order to send that information reliably. Many farms are located in rural areas, where data providers have yet to install sufficient antenna towers. Up until recently, this made sense; in regions with lower population levels, there’s been limited demand for that type of infrastructure.
As more farmers embrace the possibilities of these technological innovations, that will change. Data providers will take notice, installing more towers and boosting the country’s overall mobile telecommunications infrastructure as a result.
It’s also worth remembering that when a nation focuses on a goal requiring technological innovations, there’s often a positive ripple effect. When the United States committed itself to landing a human being on the moon that goal also provided American citizens with the motivation to pursue careers in STEM fields. The United States did eventually send astronauts to the moon, but the technologies developed to put them there had practical applications back on Earth as well.
Improving agricultural technology may not be the type of goal that inspires the same degree of awe and wonder that the space race did, but it does offer nations a way to encourage their brightest minds to develop useful solutions to a range of problems. Innovations developed to boost the efficiency of farms will likely benefit citizens of the country in other ways.
It’s no secret that agriculture is essential to a nation’s growth. If the citizens aren’t fed, the country can’t thrive. Those in power must keep this in mind, but they must also keep in mind that an emphasis on farming can lead to other opportunities for growth.
Often overlooked by students as a potential field of study, the agriculture and agrochemicals industry is in fact always in need of bright, young minds to develop new farming technologies and methodologies to keep pace with the world’s growing population.
Agriculture requires regular innovation. The more food a farmer can grow, the more food there is to be shared among the global population. And the pace of that innovation depends on the quality of the talent in the industry.
On the one hand, stories about young Americans like Sawyer Phillips—a high school senior who plans on studying agriculture in college—indicate that there is still a reasonable degree of interest in farming among at least some youths. That said, Phillips grew up on a family farm. He has firsthand knowledge about the realities of the industry.
Not all students are so fortunate. Although their particular strengths and passions may make them ideal candidates for a degree in agriculture, they’ve likely been deprived of the opportunity to learn about this field. Thus, they may never pursue the careers they’re most suited to. Everyone is worse off for it.
It’s important for anyone currently working in the industry to remember this. It’s also important to look for ways to educate those who might otherwise not have the chance to about the many different types of jobs available to them in the fields of agriculture or agrochemicals.
For example, educators at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln recently organized an expo designed to teach younger students about the connection between science and agriculture. Rather than lecturing to them about the important role scientists play in the industry, the instructors designed the expo to be an interactive experience, likely because today’s youth are exposed to more exciting forms of stimuli than ever before. Due to the constant access to TV, video games, and smartphones, lessons are more apt to succeed when they’re delivered in a hands-on manner. That was likely the thinking behind this expo, and it’s the kind of thinking that will help those interested in teaching children about farming.
Luckily, this shift towards new, stimulating approaches to pedagogy is perfect for teaching agriculture. Whether you’re out in the field testing a new agrochemical, working at a lab to develop stronger fertilizer, or engineering a more efficient tractor, by its very nature the work demands a direct approach.
In regions where universities offer prominent agriculture degree programs, educators and other members of the industry should consider organizing expos similar to the one held by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. For event planners, it’s important to remember that the more interactive the expo is, the easier it will be to demonstrate to students just how interesting farming can be.
For those who don’t have the time or resources to organize a full event, there are still other ways for schools to reach out to young people. While some schools may not have any faculty members well-versed enough in agriculture to design and implement lessons on the subject, members of the industry can help by contacting local schools in their area. They can explain who they are, outline the benefits children enjoy when they learn about agriculture, and offer to help create curricula or organize a program designed to give students a more thorough understanding of farming.
Perhaps the school, with help from someone in the industry, can host an agriculture-themed science fair. With the right resources, they might create a club for students interested in learning more about farming outside of school.
There are many ways in which educators, farmers, and everyone else involved in agriculture can help young people better understand the types of opportunities available to them in this field. Those who work in the industry already know how important it is to keep attracting young, dedicated people. By collaborating with like-minded individuals, they’ll be doing their part to ensure that farms continue to thrive well into the future.
Regular readers of this blog know that it often touches on several recurring topics. One of them is the need for smart young people to join the agriculture and agrochemical industries. Some people assume that these fields are shrinking, but actually, experts expect to see a surge of new jobs in the coming years. For those who recently graduated college or will be graduating soon and are unsure of what their next step should be, it’s a good idea to explore a career in agriculture.
According to a 2015 announcement from former United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, close to 60,000 new jobs are expected to open up each year in the agriculture and related industries in the United States alone. A report from Purdue University and the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture indicates that more than half of those jobs are filled by college graduates with specialized skills and training. A commonly held myth about farming is that most people in the industry lack any formal training or higher education, but nothing could be further from the truth. Throughout the field of agriculture, there are literally thousands of roles available to college graduates.
Perhaps even more interestingly, statistics indicate that only slightly more than half of those roles are filled by graduates who studied a subject closely related to agriculture while pursuing their degree. While a background in the field may be useful to have, it’s still entirely possible to thrive in this line of work without having learned much about it in school. If you’re able to learn fast and tackle new challenges, you can find a way to make yourself valuable.
One of the reasons people who haven’t studied agriculture still find rewarding jobs in the industry is simple: there are many different roles to fill, requiring a pool of job candidates representing a wide variety of talents and areas of expertise.
For example, you may not have had much interest in the science of farming during your time as a student, but you may have been drawn to innovations in mobile technology. People with these types of interests have found recent success in the field of agriculture and agrochemicals.
Farmers are always looking for ways to maximize their crop yield. This isn’t simply because doing so allows them to make more money. The fact is, the more food they can grow, the more food there is to share with the global population. When they boost their crop yield, the entire community benefits.
In their efforts to grow more food, farmers have turned to a number of technological innovations to facilitate more precise methods of cultivating and protecting their crops. Many now use aerial drones to get a bird’s-eye view of their fields (and, perhaps one day, to distribute agrochemicals), unmanned tractors and similar farming equipment to complete work more efficiently, and even remote monitoring stations to keep a close eye on how healthy their crops are.
Although the application of these tools has occurred only fairly recently, evidence suggests that the trend won’t be slowing down anytime soon. As such, farmers will need technologically minded people to design more effective machines and programs and come up with the best possible ways to apply them.
This is just one example of the kind of role you could find in the agriculture industry, even if you didn’t study a subject directly related to it. The point is, no matter where your interests and talents lie, you’ll still have the opportunity to forge a career in agriculture.
Students are often idealistic people. They may seek a career that rewards them financially, allows them to put their skills to good use, and makes the world a better place.
While humankind has come a long way since the first hunter-gatherer tribes began to adopt a more agrarian lifestyle, we still rely on farms to supply us with our food. By working in agriculture, a young person can have the chance to contribute to the global community, using their expertise to help in the fight against hunger. The stimulating, interesting work is just an added bonus.
If you’re looking for an industry that will give you a sense of purpose but requires drive and intelligence as well, look into the kind of work you could do in the agrochemical or agriculture industries. With a creative application of your education or talents, you could find a perfect fit.
Anyone with an interest in the business world knows that fresh, young startups are constantly revolutionizing established industries that haven’t kept up with the times. Agriculture may be the oldest industry of all, and tech companies could stand to benefit if they target the niche early on.
Although it’s unlikely that there will ever be a farming app that’s as popular as Instagram or Facebook, farmers are going to need new software solutions in the coming years. Software developers looking for an untapped market should take note.
The Current State of Agricultural Technology
As has been covered on this blog before, new technologies like drones and unmanned equipment are becoming more commonplace on farms. For example, a farmer could use an aerial drone to monitor crops more efficiently, or to distribute agrochemicals rapidly. Unmanned vehicles will perform the work that typically required a human operator. Additionally, remote monitoring stations may even supply farmers with a constant stream of data about the health of a given sections of crops.
All these innovations are quickly being embraced by many in the industry, because they’re geared towards spreading the principles of precision agriculture. This is one of the most quickly-growing trends in the agriculture industry. It essentially involves farmers using a range of tools and methods to more specifically assess and target the needs of their crops.
In the past, a farmer might have noticed that a section of crops appeared healthy, and as a result, he or she might decide not to apply additional agrochemicals or nutrients. However, within that section, there could be some crops that do need those resources. Without the nutrients they needed, those crops could fail to grow, limiting the crop yield of the farm as a result.
Now, it’s generally accepted that farmers will soon be able to use monitoring stations to get a more thorough picture of which crops needs more attention and which don’t. This allows farmers to not only boost crop yield, but also to conserve resources like agrochemicals. Rather than applying agrochemicals throughout their crops randomly, farmers can apply them to the crops that need those chemicals, while skipping those that are already healthy.
Room for Technological Development
However, there are three needs which must be fulfilled before these types of solutions can become more widespread. First, the actual drones, vehicles, and devices must be available. That doesn’t appear to be a problem: companies are quickly responding to demand within the industry.
Second, because most of these tools rely on mobile technology to relay information to farmers, digital infrastructure will have to be built up to facilitate this. Currently, the infrastructure necessary for quick and reliable mobile communications is often sparse around farms.
Providers tend to build their antenna towers and facilities in areas of high population density. As farmers continue to pursue these types of precision solutions, mobile companies will have to help by constructing the needed infrastructure.
Third and finally, farmers will need intuitive and accurate software they can use to gather the information they need from their tools. Imagine a farmer using remote monitoring stations to keep an eye on the health of their crops. In the future, they may access this data via a mobile app on a tablet device. To get the best results, they’ll want easy-to-use software that provides them with a clear breakdown.
Additional Applications for Agricultural Technology
Collecting data isn’t the only use farmers will have for new software technologies. As precision agriculture techniques help to further conserve agrochemicals and resources, farmers may find it worthwhile to keep a detailed digital inventory of these items.
Doing so will help them to save even more money and grow even more crops. People already rely on mobile apps to manage their own finances, keep track of daily tasks, and handle their banking needs.
Agricultural apps will simply be a more specialized service. Imagine an app designed specifically for farmers, making it easy for them to take inventory, schedule necessary tasks, evaluate the health and quality of their crops, and respond to the needs of crops which may not be receiving sufficient nutrition. It’s possible that such an app is right around the corner.
Before the agriculture industry can truly embrace the possibilities that drones and related technologies have to offer, this final piece of the puzzle needs to be available. Software developers are in the position right now to address a major demand before the competition does.
Better Agriculture Technology Can Improve Everyone’s Lives
Again, these apps and services will probably only affect farmers in a direct way. Indirectly, however, they can have a huge impact on people all over the world. With tools like these, farmers can grow more crops, providing more food to the people of the world. Even if you never find use for a mobile farming app, you’ll still benefit when software firms truly begin focusing on this niche.
Although the agricultural and agrochemical industries are essential to human civilization, they don’t get a lot of press. Those interested in the topic may read trade journals, relevant news stories, and blogs like this one.
Unfortunately, however, the general public doesn’t seem consistently concerned with agricultural news and innovation. That’s worth changing.
When more people understand the significance of an industry, they’re more likely to see ways in which their talents can be useful. To attract the best minds, it’s necessary to appeal to as wide a range of people as possible.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to be in the news. When people are reminded of the existence of an industry - and the work being done in that industry - they perceive it as worthy of their attention. Additionally, covering newsworthy topics through an original lens can increase a news outlet’s engaged readership or viewership.
With that in mind, the following are some simple recommendations for angles the news media might consider when covering agriculture and agrochemicals. Doing so could not only help generate greater interest in related careers, but also increase readership or improve ratings.
Although many people still think of farming as “old-fashioned” work, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, farmers tend to stay on top of the latest technological developments, applying them to their work in order to boost their overall crop yield.
For example, aerial drones have been a popular topic in tech publications in recent years. Primarily, reporters have focused on covering the military and consumer applications of these devices.
However, drones are also sure to play a key role in the future of agriculture. Farmers have demonstrated an interest in using drones to monitor crops, distribute agrochemicals, and save time. There’s also increased demand now for unmanned, Internet-capable farming equipment, like tractors.
Essentially, there is a robotic revolution set to begin in the agricultural and agrochemical industries. People who are interested in the newest advances in technology would be interested in learning more.
Agriculture serves as the foundation for societies. By providing a reliable supply of food, agriculture led to the end of the hunter-gatherer period in human history. It ushered in a time when people had greater opportunities to focus on science, art, mathematics, and the various other pursuits that allow civilizations to flourish.
To this day, agriculture still plays that role. Unfortunately, however, hunger has not been completely eradicated. Food is a key resource, and major geopolitical conflicts often stem from competition for resources. As such, agriculture has a significant effect on just about all major global issues.
To provide audiences with a full perspective on geopolitical issues, reporters should spend more time covering how food supplies impact events. Additionally, news outlets could also address how agriculture can affect their resolution.
As the popularity of health magazines, talk shows, and websites indicates, the general public is very interested in health-related topics. This seems like a perfect fit for reporters aiming to cover agriculture more frequently.
A key component of health is nutrition. Without an adequate food supply, getting proper nutrition is difficult - arguably impossible.
Audiences want to know where their food is coming from, what types of farming techniques allow for production of the healthiest food, and more. This information ties directly into one of their key interests.
Agriculture is still an industry, but it’s unique compared to many others. Today’s digital age means a rapidly-changing business landscape. A company that seems poised for global success one month can be rendered obsolete the next.
Another company may come along at any time with an offering that makes previous iterations of a product or service redundant. It can be difficult to predict which niche industries will stick around, and which will fizzle out over time.
That’s not the case with agriculture and agrochemicals. People will always need food, so they will always need farms. This makes agriculture an interesting topic for a business reporter to cover. So much business news these days focuses on niche offerings that might not be relevant six months down the line.
Farming, on the other hand, will always be relevant. This means reporters have a chance to explore how businesses operate - and innovate - when offering a service that they know will remain necessary in perpetuity. There are many interesting angles to consider, which would make it easy to attract readers.
One of the simplest ways to attract greater talent to an industry is to ensure that people understand their talents are applicable. If people get a chance to read more news stories about agriculture and agrochemicals, they’ll see how they can contribute, when they might not have before.
The agriculture and agrochemical industries are always looking for bright young minds interested in making a difference. Although some people think of farming as old-fashioned or a technologically unsophisticated industry, the truth is that farmers have always embraced the latest innovations and technologies. When science, engineering, botany, and a host of other disciplines are applied to agriculture, crop yields improve and food production increases.
One example of this is the growing interest in precision agriculture, which harnesses the power of technology and data to help farmers respond more effectively to the varying conditions that exist within and across their fields of crops. With precision agriculture, farmers have a better understanding of the health and productiveness of their crops—even down to the last square foot—and can tend to them more efficiently. Related to this is the growing demand for aerial drones and unmanned tractors that can assist farmers in their work. The latest advances in science continue to shape the agricultural industry.
That’s good for everyone. The more food farmers can grow, the more food there is for the global population. Because of this critical need, it’s important that those working in the fields of agriculture and agrochemicals strive to make them appealing to students who are eager to use their skills and carry these industries into the future.
Encouraging the Next Generation of the Agriculture Industry
It isn’t always easy to convince someone that a potential career or industry is worth their attention if they haven’t considered it before. Many people form their initial ideas about what types of work they will pursue when they are children. While few actually grow up to become exactly what they dreamed of in childhood, they usually follow a path that they learned about in their youth.
Getting kids interested in a career in the agriculture industry may be particularly difficult for this reason. Most people have never visited a farm and many may not even consider where their food comes from at all—as long as it’s available in their local supermarket, they don’t think about it. For most people, farming is an abstract idea, not an everyday reality.
That’s why it’s a good idea for teachers to consider assigning their young students a project which involves running a “mock” farm. Ideally, this would happen in a science class, though it could also overlap with one on economics. There are likely many smart kids out there who falsely assume that the work of a farmer isn’t one that requires much intelligence. They don’t know that there are many ways they could actually thrive in this field. By giving them a broader perspective on agriculture and agrochemicals, schools can help drive more talented individuals to this type of work.
Designing a Mock Farm Project
The project itself can take on a variety of potential forms, depending on the resources available and the age of the students. If there is space on school property, a teacher could petition administrators to let them create a small crop field. Obviously, this type of project will require not only space, but also fertile land that can facilitate plant growth. Regardless, it would give students an opportunity to explore the field of agriculture in a fun, interactive manner. By actually being tasked with growing crops and taking steps to optimize their crop yield, students will come away with a better understanding of the many factors that must be addressed in modern farming.
Again, a teacher might also consider approaching the project from the angle of economics. This is especially smart if there isn’t any place on school grounds where students can grow crops. The project would involve providing students with a fake budget, which they would use to “buy” tracks of land, as well as all the resources necessary to optimize their farm, such as drones, unmanned tractors, and agrochemical supplies. They would also make decisions about what to grow, to whom they would sell their products, or how many people they would hire. Essentially, the project would require students to make the kinds of decisions they would have to make if they ran a business. The business itself would simply happen to be a farm.
Because the students wouldn’t actually be managing any real farms, the teacher wouldn’t be able to evaluate them on the outcomes of their decisions. Instead, the teacher could require students to create a report—perhaps in the form of an essay or an oral presentation—explaining how and why they made some of their key decisions. This enables teachers to assess whether their students had a thorough grasp of the economic principles they were attempting to teach.
A mock farm project can be modified to fit the needs of any class, so it isn’t important to get too hung up on the details at first. What’s most important is ensuring that the students get the chance to see that there is more than enough room for smart, committed people in the agriculture and agrochemical industries. Ideally, it will inspire them to pursue careers in these fields later on in life.
Anyone who works in the agrochemical industry knows that we’re constantly striving to develop new, more effective products. This isn’t merely about making a profit. Worldwide, there is an increasing demand for agrochemicals that maximize farmers’ crop yields. In order to meet the global population’s rising food production needs, everyone within the industry must place a continued emphasis on creating strong, reliable products.
While we’ve been successful, there’s always room to improve, innovate, and explore. No field is stagnant. It’s obvious that there are still undiscovered ways to make agrochemicals even more effective than they already are. However, there’s a boundary that could prevent us from reaching those goals as rapidly as possible: inefficient R&D processes.
Research and development is at the core of the agrochemical industry. It’s the key to improving our current products and developing new ones. In all lines of work that involve substantial R&D, though, it’s important to step back from time to time and determine what could be done to boost the efficiency of these processes. When we address the factors that may be slowing us down, we can do an even better job of developing agrochemicals that protect our crops and help them thrive.
Better Data Management
First, we should explore new means of data management to confirm that we’re using the best tools and methods available. Obviously, data management is important in any field’s R&D efforts, but it’s especially significant when it comes to creating new agrochemicals. Keeping track of data in an organized manner doesn’t just make it easier to identify the chemicals that appear to be the most effective. It also ensures that companies abide by the numerous regulations that are simply an unavoidable and necessary component of the industry.
Better data management is also increasingly important because the R&D process has grown more complex, costly, and time-consuming. According to the industry group European Crop Protection, the cost of bringing an agrochemical product to market has increased by 55% since 2000. In addition, it now takes about 11 years to develop a product, up from 8 years in 1995. On average, creating a new agrochemical product requires a considerable R&D investment of $286 million.
Many R&D teams at agrochemical companies are already implementing the most efficient data management strategies. However, when it plays such an important role in the process, there’s no harm in taking stock of the current strategy and making absolutely sure that there are no ways in which it can be improved.
Along the same lines, it’s worthwhile to explore the potential for making use of new technologies that can help R&D teams automate more of their tasks. R&D work often yields the best results when scientists are able to focus on their actual research, rather than the administrative aspects of organizing and managing that research. Unfortunately, R&D is, by its nature, filled with such tasks that take time and attention away from other processes.
Again, it may be that any given R&D team has already optimized their technology usage, automating all the tasks that they can. But until they can say for certain that this is the case, it’s often smart to investigate new options. While adopting a new technology usually involves a transition stage that could slow processes down in the short run, in the long run, it can provide for a tremendous surge in productivity.
Focus on Most Promising Products
It’s also fair to keep in mind that there is an extremely practical side to the type of work that R&D specialists do. Of course they are the ones who help create new agrochemicals, but they could end up wasting much of their precious time if they focus on developing a product for which there is simply no market. That’s why they also need to be sure that they’re staying up-to-date on new advances in the field, such as precision agriculture, as well as market demands. The end goal of their work is to create a product that will provide for more robust crop yields, but if no one has any interest in using the products they develop, then they’ll never have their intended effect.
Because of this, R&D teams and the people who manage them must stay abreast of the changing landscape that is the agricultural industry. It doesn’t matter if you’ve automated every last task you can and taken every step to ensure your data management processes are efficient—you’re still going nowhere if you’re developing chemicals for which there will be no demand when they hit the market.
Obviously, improving the efficiency of R&D processes is no simple endeavor. Each team has their own set of needs to be addressed. However, no one should fall into the trap of forgetting the importance of this goal. The demand for increased food production will not go away; the global population is counting on intelligent, talented individuals and groups to work rapidly in their efforts to improve agrochemicals. Getting some perspective and considering what can be done to make research and development more productive and efficient is a win-win-win. It benefits agrochemical companies, farmers, and the public.
At first glance, agriculture (and, of course, agrochemicals) and politics may not seem to have a tremendous amount to do with one another. When people think about global affairs and political issues, they tend to focus on subjects like war, the economy, and the justice system, to name a few. However, agriculture has a direct connection to all of these concerns, and this has been true for the entirety of human civilization.
It’s important to understand and appreciate this relationship. Whenever someone discusses the agrochemical industry, whether this person is an entrepreneur, investor, educator, or everyday citizen, he or she shouldn’t do so through a limited perspective. Farming is a major political issue, and by treating it as such, societies and countries can make better decisions about how to use agriculture to further their goals and provide for their citizens.
Keeping the People Happy
At the most basic level, the function of a society is to provide for the survival and, ideally, overall health and contentment of its citizens. In humankind’s early days, communities often formed tribes to achieve these ends. Today, we’re more accustomed to national governments being the organizing force behind a society. While these two incarnations of the same idea may not greatly resemble one another, they still share the common purpose of keeping their members as satisfied as possible with their lifestyles.
It’s fairly obvious that ensuring people remain fed is essential to running a successful society. Without enough food, a population can’t survive. Because of this, farms have played a major role in human civilization for thousands of years. For most of human history, agriculture has been the means by which a group produces its food. While countries have come a long way from the primitive tribes of the distant past, they still need to ensure that their agricultural foundation is robust and healthy.
Farms enable a country to fulfill its main purpose of caring for its citizens. When the people of a country are unhappy with their government’s inability to provide for their basic needs, crime, civil unrest, and economic struggle are all potential consequences. With this in mind, voters should consider a politician’s stance on issues like agricultural and agrochemical use before lending their support to a candidate. While this topic may not be popular on political talk shows or in newspaper editorials, it is, in fact, highly significant.
Improving International Relations
Whether it involves two rival tribes fighting over territory or several nations engaged in lengthy combat, conflict between societies has plagued civilization for all of recorded history. Though wars are fought for a variety of reasons, from conflicting ideological beliefs to territorial disputes, one of the most common reasons two societies engage in combat is simple: the need for key resources.
Many of the earliest wars stemmed from a limited amount of food available in a given region. Seeing no way to share the food evenly between them, tribes fought over this essential resource. Thousands of years later, a lack of resources is still a primary factor in whether countries declare war on one another.
The more effectively farms can grow food, the more food there will be to share. If all societies can provide for their citizens’ basic needs, then they will be free to improve their relations with one another. True, there will always be other factors that result in disagreement—claiming that efficient farms will eliminate war entirely is naïve—but with decreased competition for resources, there will be one fewer reason for nations to resort to armed combat.
The farms of today are immensely more productive than those of the early human tribes. Thanks to innovations like fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, we can protect our crops from illness and substantially boost the amount of food an individual farm can yield.
Moreover, the agricultural industry hasn’t stopped innovating. Developments ranging from precision agriculture (an approach to farming that involves using data, tools, and special techniques to maximize a farm’s efficiency) to unmanned drones that can monitor crops and distribute agrochemicals are all worth paying attention to. Political leaders, especially, should take note. Whether they serve on the board of a small town or negotiate treaties with other nations, elected officials should keep in mind that the more productive farms are, the easier it is to reduce conflict.
Again, not many people immediately link agriculture and politics, and this is something that needs to change. Educators should focus more on this topic in schools, and journalists should approach political coverage from this perspective more often. Society will no doubt benefit as a result.