Agriculture and agrochemicals often get overlooked when people discuss the industries and fields that contribute the most to society. This is understandable. Farms have been around for literally thousands of years. As a result, it’s become easy to take them for granted. Doing so involves ignoring one key fact, though: agriculture may very well be the “backbone” of all civilization.
True, this might sound like an audacious statement to make, but upon closer inspection, it holds up.
Pre-agricultural nomadic tribes
Experts agree that, prior to the development of agriculture, humans were generally hunter-gatherers. They lived in tribes, moving from one area to another to find and consume food. This type of living left little room for art, science, medicine, or any of the countless advances and innovations that are necessary for the growth and success of a society.
It wasn’t that those pursuits served no practical purpose for pre-agricultural tribes—it was simply that the people living in those tribes didn’t have any opportunities to focus on them. It’s widely accepted that the primary reason humans formed communities to begin with was to provide for their own survival. They found that it was easier to survive if they cooperated with others who could support them. In turn, they would offer their own skills and resources to the tribe.
Everyone had a role to play, essentially. Unfortunately, in hunter-gatherer societies, those roles were limited—everyone focused on procuring food and shelter. The demand for self-preservation drove the tribe from one location to another, following the seasons. After they had exhausted the immediately available resources, they moved on. They could not put down roots, and so they could not invest any attention toward endeavors that did not support the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
Agriculture changes everything
When humans learned that, instead of pursuing food, they could cultivate it, they had found a completely new way of life that allowed them to abandon the hunter-gatherer approach and adopt one that allowed them to remain in one place.
Although early farming was most likely not easy, it was almost certainly not as physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing as hunter-gatherer living. In addition, agriculture had another benefit: it enabled the human population to grow faster than ever before.
Farmers were able to coax more food out of the land than a hunter-gatherer could ever collect, and they could ensure a more consistent, year-round supply that wasn’t so totally dependent on the whims of nature. Agriculture also allowed for surpluses of food—and because people were sedentary, they could store their surpluses and access them during lean times, as protection against starvation. All these developments made possible a larger, healthier population.
What’s more, in an early agricultural civilization, there was now room (and more people available) to devote energy toward other pursuits, instead of simply those that allowed a tribe to most effectively travel, hunt, and forage. Those who identified the healing properties of certain foods and herbs, for example, could communicate their findings to the rest of the community, allowing them to treat others who were sick or injured; this served as the foundation for the development of medicine.
To make the most of a farm, it was important to have a strong understanding of the role the seasons played in food production, and the best conditions for plants to grow. This resulted in humans acquiring an understanding of subjects like astronomy and botany. With more free time available, members of these early societies began to look for ways in which they could keep themselves occupied. Because of this, we now have sports, theatre, literature, and all the other arts and fields that enrich our lives. While hunter-gatherer living was focused mainly on keeping people alive, agriculture was the first major development in human history that made it possible for the full scope of human activity to flourish.
It also allowed for greater cooperation among different communities. In the past, groups were competing for the few resources available in a particular area. By learning that they could grow their own food, instead of hunting it, there may have been less need to compete with others. They could instead form alliances. Over the centuries, these alliances grew into the geopolitical entities—such as cities and nations—that are familiar today.
Later on, beginning with the Industrial Revolution, agrochemicals played a major role, of course. They greatly increased the amount and quality of food a farm could produce. The advances mentioned above benefited greatly from the use of chemicals that could protect crops from disease, pests, and competing plants.
That’s why it is by no means an exaggeration to claim that agriculture and agrochemicals serve as the backbone of human civilization. Had they never been developed, humans would still be hunting for food, gathering as much of it as they could, and abandoning a region when it no longer served useful to their needs. By giving tribes the ability to grow their food instead of seeking it out, agriculture gave them the chance to truly build their societies.
Mobile technology has had a tremendous (and positive) impact on the lives of people all over the world. These devices allow users to connect with friends, navigate roads, and research any topic with the click of a button.
Consumers aren’t the only ones who have improved their lives through the use of smartphones and tablets, however. Business owners have also found that “smart” devices and products that are part of the Internet of Things allow them to boost productivity, more efficiently manage tasks, and address problems quickly.
Farmers, too, can benefit from these innovations. While some may still see the agriculture and agrochemical industries as “old-fashioned” arenas that rarely employ new technology, this is a misperception.
Agriculture - A High-Tech Industry
As the rise of precision agriculture indicates, farmers are constantly implementing the latest tools to increase their crop yields and supply more high-quality food to people around the world. Whether they are using aerial drones to monitor their crops or relying on unmanned vehicles to perform daily tasks, agricultural professionals are often on the forefront of emerging technologies.
That’s why farmers should pay attention to the kinds of benefits they can enjoy if they make use of mobile devices and IoT applications. Developers tend to respond to market demand.
There are many applications for this type of technology in the work of farming. However, if the people who create the technology aren’t motivated to by consumer demand, they’ll be much slower in tailoring their products to the agricultural industries. It’s up to farmers, agrochemical suppliers, and other professionals to make it clear how these products can and ought to be used on a farm.
Monitoring Crops with Technology
For example, farmers looking to get the most out of their crops know that it’s important to monitor them. Monitoring helps identify instances in which a particular set of crops may need additional nutrients, herbicides, pesticides, or other treatment.
In the past, this typically required sending out actual workers to visually inspect crops on a regular basis. This is an inefficient way of performing this task, but until recently, there was not any other option.
Technology has changed that. Farmers can, theoretically, install monitoring stations throughout their land. These stations will remotely supply them with data about the health of the crops in that particular area. By simply checking their mobile devices, farmers will see whether or not a crop needs any additional work or attention in order to properly thrive.
Managing Resources with Technology
Technology won’t merely allow farmers to boost crop yield (although this is an important benefit, as it results in more food for people to consume). It will also give agricultural professionals the opportunity to make more efficient use of their resources.
For example, this means that workers who would have previously been sent into the field to assess the state of a crop can instead focus on other necessary tasks. Rather than applying agrochemicals randomly, farmers will know precisely which crops need additional pesticides and which don’t, making it easier to conserve their supply.
Instead of converting nearby areas to farmland, the increase in crop yield means farmers will be able to rely on their current land, preserving natural habitats as a result.
This is merely one application for mobile technology in the agricultural industries. The unmanned vehicles mentioned earlier can also be equipped with devices that provide information on their condition, so farmers can make any necessary repairs before the machinery breaks down entirely.
The potential uses for IoT devices are seemingly limitless. Additionally, if history is any indication, innovative thinkers will certainly introduce new ideas - and in the near future.
Challenges with the Implementation of Agricultural Technology
Of course, there are roadblocks standing in the way of these developments. Many farms are still located in rural areas with low population density. As such, the infrastructure necessary to support this type of intense mobile tech use may not be in place.
That’s another reason professionals in the agricultural industries should clearly express their interest in such innovations. By making it clear to tech developers that there is a demand for these products, they’ll be developed and made available more quickly. Additionally, wireless companies will also recognize the demand and respond accordingly, building the cell towers required to support these applications.
Anyone familiar with the nuances of agriculture knows that increasing efficiency and productivity is a key goal of all farmers. Throughout human history, farmers have identified useful processes and technologies, incorporating them into their work to achieve these goals. As mobile tech becomes more and more ubiquitous, it’s important that farmers continue this trend, embracing the potential uses for these products.
As with any major industry, if you’re not directly involved, you may fall prey to misconceptions. This is especially the case with the agriculture and agrochemical industries.
Perhaps misconceptions occur because this type of work is highly specialized, but it’s not highly publicized. Since movie stars and directors are constantly in the news, many ordinary people have a reasonable familiarity with the workings of the entertainment industry. When it comes to agriculture, however, unless you are an active participant in the industry, you may not be exposed to the latest news and trends. As such, it’s reasonable that you may have misconceptions.
This blog post serves to challenge three of those misconceptions, illustrating why agricultural and agrochemical work is important and showcasing why these industries have some of the most significant potential for technological and social progress
Misconception 1: Farming Is an Archaic Industry
As has been pointed out by numerous experts and historians, agriculture is among humankind’s oldest industries. Because of this, it makes sense that some people have a tendency to regard it as an outdated practice that is no longer relevant to society as a whole.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The vast majority of the food we consume is generated through farming. As any global history expert can confirm, the amount of food available to a population plays a major role in that society's development and stability.
Without farms, the world as we know it would look remarkably different from the one with which we are familiar. Quite simply, agriculture is essential to maintaining order in human society. It’s had this effect for literally thousands of years and, there’s currently no reason to suspect that it won’t continue to do so.
Misconception 2: Agriculture Is a Technologically Outdated Industry
This misconception is an extension of the one above. Just as many people assume that farms are a relic of the past, they may also assume that the farms that do still exist are stuck in the past. People who don’t keep current with the shifts and developments in major technologies may assume that farms have failed to inspire further technological progress.
Not so. The principles of precision agriculture - using advanced methods and tools to maximize crop yield - have resulted in the implementation of numerous new technologies in the effort to grow more food and to limit the amount of land that needs to be converted to farmland.
These technologies include, but are not limited to, unmanned aerial drones that monitor crop growth and potentially distribute agrochemicals; unmanned agricultural equipment that can reduce much of the human labor necessary for farming; and remote monitoring stations that alert farmers to the condition and needs of certain crops.
Those are just a few examples of how agriculture helps to move technology forward, which is beneficial to human society as a whole. Historically, when a technology is developed for one purpose, others quickly find new applications for it.
This will undoubtedly be the case with various new technologies that are currently being used in the agriculture and agrochemical industries. Right now, they help farmers to get the most out of their land (which also helps to keep people fed). However, in the future, others will find new ways to make use of these tools.
Misconception 3: Farming Is Not Intellectually Challenging
Throughout the world, there has been a stereotype of farmers as stoic laborers who work strictly with their hands, facing few if any intellectual challenges in their work. This is a strange misconception, although it’s a persistent one.
In order to make efficient use of farmland, one must have an in-depth understanding of the numerous variables which go into growing healthy, robust crops. Farmers also need to be able to understand how to use new technologies, such as those discussed above, to their best advantage.
In addition, the people actually involved in creating these and other technologies - such as newer and stronger agrochemicals - need to be highly-educated, with creative minds and a passion for innovation.
This is why how schools teach agriculture is important. Many students may not be drawn to the idea of pursuing a career in the agricultural or agrochemical industries if they believe that technology and innovation play only a minor role.
Of course, the real truth is that these industries are ideal for those seeking a job that will provide them with constant mental stimulation. Farming will continue to benefit from the brightest minds in the world, and the world as a whole will continue to benefit from farms.
Although they may seem to be niche fields, the agriculture and agrochemical industries are in fact directly linked to numerous popular interests and career paths. As history has shown, the more often talented people with unique perspectives engage with those working in the field of agriculture, the more dramatic the resulting innovations tend to be.
That’s why it’s important to continue to inform students and the public at large about the major role that agriculture and agrochemicals play in the world. By having a better understanding of how these industries interact with other seemingly unrelated fields, people will find more opportunities to share their own talents.
This list represents a mere sampling of the major industries and fields that agriculture significantly affects. In truth, because farms lay the foundation for human civilization as a whole, they touch just about every part of our lives in one way or another.
The following are just a few of the industries and interests that are tied closely to agriculture:
1. Culinary Arts
Agriculture may be nearly as old as human civilization, but farms still provide the global population with the vast majority of its food. As such, anyone with an interest in professional cooking can benefit from paying closer attention to trends within the agricultural industries. They might, for example, begin to learn more about which crops are thriving, allowing them to predict which ingredients will be easier to integrate into their dishes, and which will be less available over time.
Chefs are artists, and food is their medium. Having a more thorough understanding of how their food is produced and what steps need to be taken to maximize production will give those involved in the culinary arts a broader view of how their own industries may develop. On top of that, chefs who are able to make decisions regarding which farms to source their food from will find it easier to make these choices if they know which farming techniques and practices result in the highest crop yield.
Farmers have made use of new technologies for millennia, and if recent news is any indication, the trend shows no signs of stopping. Over the past several months and years, agriculture experts have asserted that technologies such as unmanned aerial drones, GPS navigating systems, and even robots will soon be commonplace on many farms. Many outside the industry might not realize that agriculture offers some of the most significant practical applications for these new tools.
That’s why individuals in the technology industry should pay close attention to how tech can benefit farmers. While it may be invigorating to work toward any sort of technological breakthrough, society demands that the breakthroughs that scientists devote their energies to serve a practical purpose that benefits as many members of the human population possible. By examining how these emerging technologies can revolutionize farming, tech specialists can find new ways to justify their projects and research.
It’s no secret that food is among the most important resources in the world. In the past, wars have been fought over it. The scarcity or abundance of food in a given area plays a critical role in shaping policy and determining the course of a nation’s development.
Obviously, numerous factors contribute to geopolitical conflicts. Food is just one of many. That said, politicians looking for ways in which to inspire further cooperation across the global community will find that agriculture offers unique approaches to this goal. By taking steps to increase food production—such as providing farmers with greater access to agrochemicals—politicians can help to address one of the primary causes of global conflict.
4. Environmental Science
Embracing new technologies hasn’t simply made it easier for farmers to grow more crops and make more money. By boosting the efficiency of their land, farmers have less need to convert neighboring areas into farmland. As a result, natural habitats are less likely to be disrupted.
As a result, anyone with an interest in environmental science should also focus on developments within the agriculture and agrochemical industries. If they can help to spread awareness of (and access to) farming techniques and tools that allow for greater efficiency, they can also help to preserve more of the environment. As more and more citizens of the world realize the importance of taking steps to protect the planet, people with these insights will be even more valuable to society in the coming years.
If the trends of 2016 are any indication, 2017 looks to be yet another year of innovation and progress for the agriculture and agrochemical industries. Although farms have existed for millennia, the work of farming is constantly changing. New technologies and methods allow agricultural specialists to maximize their crop yield, reduce the amount of farmland they need to produce a sufficient quantity of food, and perform basic farming processes more efficiently.
With that in mind, now seems like a good time to explore where the agriculture and agrochemical industries are headed in 2017. The following farming trends have picked up steam in recent months, and it’s a safe bet that they’ll continue to do so in the year to come.
Put simply, precision agriculture involves accounting for variability within the conditions of a given crop field. Rather than treating all the plants in a given area equally, farmers employ numerous technologies and approaches to ascertain the individual needs of a particular crop.
For example, in a field, some plants may thrive, while others may need nutrients, endure pests, or succumb to illness. In the past, farmers may have addressed this in one of two ways: by focusing on the healthy crops and failing to tend to the needs of the unhealthy ones, or wasting valuable resources—pesticides, fertilizer, water—on the entire field just to address the needs of the unhealthy crops.
In other words, if a farmer identifies that certain plants within a field require more herbicides to fight off weeds, then he or she might distribute the same amount of herbicides throughout the whole field, even though there may be healthy plants that don’t need this kind of attention.
This waste of resources can cut into the profits of a farm. On the other hand, if a farmer fails to notice the unhealthy crops within a field because they’ve attended only to the healthy ones, they won’t produce as much usable food as they can.
These potential consequences are two key reasons why more and more people working in the agricultural industry are adopting the precision agriculture approach. By using GPS technology along with innovations designed to give a thorough portrait of the soil and crop conditions in a specific area of a field, farmers can divide their crops into smaller and smaller sections. This allows them to more effectively care for unhealthy plants without wasting resources on healthy ones. For the rest of the world, this could mean increased food production.
To aid in the work of precision agriculture, many farmers have begun to make use of unmanned aerial drones. Rather than physically travelling to a portion of their fields to assess the health and overall condition of the crops, they can operate these vehicles remotely, getting an aerial view of the field. This new development promises to make farmers much more efficient in their work.
However, reconnaissance isn’t the only use for drones. In the future, it’s possible they could be equipped with mechanisms that would allow them to distribute agrochemicals from the air. Some specialists even anticipate drones armed with safe laser devices that could target invading weeds with surgical precision.
Aerial drones are not the only unmanned vehicles farmers have begun to make use of. Recently, manufacturers have developed unmanned tractors and similar agricultural equipment to perform many of the tasks formerly relegated to humans. In some instances, these vehicles may operate on their own, much like robotic swimming pool vacuum cleaners do.
In other cases, farmers could operate or monitor the vehicles remotely, performing necessary jobs and getting a thorough picture of their crops’ health in the most efficient way possible.
As of now, experts at Goldman Sachs estimate that in the near future the driverless tractor industry could be worth $45 billion, which doesn’t even account for the other new agriculture technologies that are beginning to hit the market.
The appeal of these developments is clear. One of the key goals of most farmers, after all, is maximizing crop yield. By focusing more precisely on the specific needs of individual plants, using drones to survey their property, and relegating time-consuming work to robots, farmers can ensure that they’re taking every step possible to get the most out of their farms.
Despite being one of the oldest (if not the oldest) industries in human history, agriculture—and, by extension, agrochemicals—still plays a major role in driving progress. The reason being that, on a basic level, the food that farms create is necessary for civilization to thrive.
However, feeding the world’s population is not the only way in which agriculture promotes growth. From an economic perspective, it contributes to the proliferation of jobs, the development of new technologies, and the strength of commerce.
Obviously, all industries create jobs, and agriculture is no exception. Although many of the processes that once relied on human workers have become automated, farms have by no means reached the same level of automation as some modern factories and manufacturing plants. Farmers are still essential, and the food they grow provides jobs for the people involved in the many branches of the food industry, including packaging, shipping, selling, and advertising.
In fact, by keeping people fed, farms ensure that societies have citizens with the necessary motivation and health to participate in the economy.
These truths only scratch the surface of how the agricultural industry sparks growth and strengthens the overall global community, but the problem is that many people have a notion that farming is inherently “old-fashioned” work. While they may be able to realize and accept how it creates jobs and stabilizes the economy, they might not consider how it also drives technological development.
Take, for instance, unmanned drone technology. The average person probably thinks of drones as either military weapons or consumer gadgets. They might not know that drones are becoming increasingly useful in farming. Unmanned aircraft give farmers the ability to efficiently monitor their crops, distribute agrochemicals where needed, and identify areas where food growth is limited by competing plants, illness, or pests. As more and more farmers embrace this technology, more companies will work toward inventing new tools and applications for it.
This, in turn, could spark further growth in infrastructure. One of the primary barriers keeping farmers from implementing drones more frequently in their operations is a fundamental infrastructure problem. While these vehicles theoretically assist in a farmer’s work by relaying data and images wirelessly, in many of the more rural areas where farms are based, there aren’t enough cell towers to facilitate this type of communication on a reliable basis. These regions tend to be more sparsely populated than major urban centers, and as such, wireless carriers lack the incentive to build up the necessary infrastructure.
Now, however, that is likely to change. As wireless companies recognize an increased demand for service in areas where farmers might employ drones in their operations, they’ll be more likely to erect more towers. The result is easy to anticipate: more work for the business leaders who run these companies, more jobs for the lower-level employees involved in tasks like site acquisition and permitting, more profit for the architecture firms that design the towers, and greater opportunities for the construction workers who actually do the critical work of building the facilities. That’s not even mentioning the additional work available to construction firms that bid on the projects, environmental groups that inspect the properties prior to the building of the structure, and attorneys whose jobs often involve negotiating lease agreements between the property owners and the wireless carriers.
Even without calculating the estimated effect this would have on the overall economy, it’s easy to see how this process benefits people from all walks of life, be they lifelong farmers, managers at wireless companies, lawyers, or construction workers. For instance, if farmers weren’t creating the demand for this type of technology, there would be fewer opportunities for the people involved in developing it, and the people who would enjoy greater job security thanks to the new cell tower construction projects would instead have to compete for jobs.
That initial demand is crucial, and without agriculture the process would never be set in motion. Most people already understand that farms contribute to society by keeping the people of the world fed. That said, it’s important to understand how agriculture continues to promote civilization’s growth to this day. It’s practically impossible to overstate the importance of its role in the economy, and it’s essential that citizens of the world—and the politicians they elect—recognize this truth.
No matter what time period or topic you focus on, when you’re a student in a history class, the goal isn't simply be to memorize important names and dates. The study of history is the study of how different cultures, nations, technologies, and people influenced one another and changed the course of human development.
For example, children in the United States often learn about the Industrial Revolution and how it shaped the world in which they live today. If they can come to appreciate the effects that major technological developments of the past have had on their present-day lives, they can perhaps see how current events will influence the future.
That’s why it seems that the history of agriculture ought to be a subject students learn more about in their early schooling.
How Agriculture Is Currently Taught
True, many children across the world are taught how the first human civilizations made the shift from a hunter-gather style society to a more farming-centric, agrarian one. There is definitely some degree of attention paid to agriculture’s role in history.
The problem is that school curricula tend to depict agriculture’s role in human society as one that was far more significant in the distant past. As a result, children may think of agricultural innovators as consisting exclusively of ancestors who lived a very, very long time ago, and who have no direct impact on their lives today.
Of course, it’s entirely valid to approach this subject from the perspective of modern humans looking back at how societies developed from hunter-gatherers to the agrarian societies most people live in today. However, agriculture didn’t merely provide food for humans to consume. Yes, that may have been - and may always be - its primary function, but focusing exclusively on this element of its effect on society means ignoring the bigger picture.
Additional Impacts of Agriculture on Society
Agriculture did keep humans well-fed. However, agriculture also made it possible for ancient tribes to settle down permanently in one geographic area. This allowed people to differentiate their roles within a culture.
The stability afforded to societies by farming expanded opportunities for people to develop their artistic talents. It also led to the establishment and enforcement of laws, as well as the development of cohesive religious and philosophical beliefs. So many elements of human society that we may take for granted, from literature to spirituality, would never have existed in their current forms without the development of farming.
So, yes, it is fair for schools to discuss agriculture in terms of its impact on society’s historical development. However, educators shouldn’t limit the discussion to these terms. If the educational emphasis is on the development of agriculture as a major turning point in the history of humankind, that’s all children well ever think of it as: history.
Agriculture’s Impact on Contemporary Society
The reality, though, is that agriculture continues to be a major force in all of human society. It still provides the vast majority of the food that people eat. It also has a tremendous impact on the economic health of a given nation.
Additionally, farming has led to the development and adoption of many new technologies, from unmanned drones to driverless tractors to the development and use of agrochemicals, all of which boost the industry’s overall efficiency with the result that more people are fed. Not only that, but major cultural shifts are still occurring as countries and peoples respond to the need for more food, for more of what agriculture provides.
Changing How the History of Agriculture Is Taught
In the agrochemical industry, as in so many other fields, leaders are always looking for bright young people to seek employment and contribute their talent and insights. Unfortunately, if students are taught to think of agriculture in limited terms - the transition to agrarian societies as ancient history, farming as technologically stagnant, agrochemical companies as the domain of business school graduates - then those who might otherwise find a reason to enter the field might not do so. Then they would lose out on the opportunity to not only make the world a better place, but also play a fundamental role in the shaping of history.
Because of the need for fresh talent and constant innovation within the industry, it is important that schools across the world reassess how they approach this topic. Agriculture must be taught in such a way that students better understand how this vital industry directly affects them right here and right now.
When this shift happens, students with a deep curiosity and a well-cultivated social conscience may realize that agriculture is the industry that will offer them the opportunity to do their most important work.
If you read even a little bit of tech news, you may have heard about something that experts like to call the “Internet of Things.” Although it may seem like a vague term, one that is probably used to describe some obscure technological concept, in truth it simply refers to the increasing trend of connecting everyday tools and appliances to the Internet.
Your smartphone is an example of the Internet of Things. In addition, companies such as Nest Labs have incorporated a thermostat into the Internet of Things. The smartwatch is yet another example.
Topcon Agriculture, SDF Enter into Partnership
And now, it looks like the agricultural industry plans to follow suit. Topcon Agriculture recently entered into a non-exclusive, long-term agreement with SDF, a major manufacturer of agricultural equipment, including tractors, harvesters, and other large machines.
Of the partnership, Fabio Isaia, CEO of Topcon, says, “Topcon Agriculture’s products and services are aimed at enhancing efficiency, productivity, and workflows to virtually every phase of a farming operation, which pairs well with SDF—a respected supplier to customers worldwide with a wide range of tractors and other agricultural machines.”
He added, “The anticipated agreement will facilitate active and continuous cooperation between our two organizations, and also in the planning and development of IoT solutions for the agriculture market. Topcon and SDF have long enjoyed an existing collaborative association, and this agreement extends and solidifies that relationship.”
SDF CEO Lodovico Bussolati echoes these sentiments. “Precision Farming is a key factor in order to improve both the productivity and the well-being of the end users. The strengthening of SDF’s current collaboration with Topcon reinforces our position in providing to the final customer the most advanced farming technology integrated into our products. This new relationship is consistent with our strategy focused on the enlargement of the product range and opens new opportunity for Farming 4.0 era,” he says.
New Ways to Use the Internet of Things to Benefit Farmers
In other words, two major names in the industry have made it clear that they are going to pursue new ways to use the Internet of Things for the benefit of farmers. But how might that look, and what does it means for people who specialize in agrochemicals?
Well, consider this potential development. Weather stations within specific fields could be connected over the same network. These, along with soil moisture sensors, could send an alert your way when it appears that it would be a good time for a fungicide application. You might even be able to use your mobile device to trigger the application remotely. If technology were to move in such a direction, it’s possible that agrochemical companies would benefit from partnerships with others in the field to develop compatible devices for such a feature.
Additionally, those who have considered the potential results of an Internet of Things approach to agriculture believe that in the not-too-distant future, farms will be equipped with remote bio-monitors for their livestock. The monitors will constantly relay information to a farmer about the health of the livestock, so any problems can be addressed early.
The same type of feedback mechanism could be used in crops, as well. Devices would monitor whether or not a crop received sufficient nutrients, whether it was affected by disease, and possibly whether it had come into contact with any pests. The information would alert a farmer to instances when more pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer needed to be applied to a crop.
Precision Agriculture Methods Growing More Popular
All of this essentially means what many have already seen and reported on in recent months and years: precision agriculture methods are becoming more popular throughout the industry, as farmers learn that using the latest technology can help them get the most out of their crops and livestock, while also conserving resources such as their supply of agrochemicals. When they know specifically which crops need more herbicide and which don’t, they can apply these chemicals in a more focused way.
Of course, as has been mentioned before on this blog, in some rural areas there is still a roadblock to fully implementing the Internet of Things into the work of farming: a lack of infrastructure. Some of these regions still don’t have enough cell towers to support the devices and features that people would make use of on farms.
However, that should not be seen as an insurmountable barrier. Odds are good that if farmers show an interest in these Internet of Things solutions, wireless carriers will recognize an untapped market and begin focusing on building the necessary infrastructure. The agriculture industry is changing with the times, and this latest announcement from Topcon and SDT simply confirms what many have already pointed out: precision agriculture and mobile technology are going to change the way that farmers work in a big way.
Right now, we’re entering what many consider to be their favorite time of year: the holidays. During this season, people often take the time to reflect on what they have to be grateful for, such as food on the table and loved ones to share it with. They also might use these months to consider those who are less fortunate, wondering what we can all do as a global society to help those in need.
In other words, it’s perhaps the time of year when the benefits of agrochemicals are most apparent. Though it may not be the type of subject people typically think about all that often, for those in the industry, it’s clear why the holidays might inspire this kind of thinking.
Holiday Traditions Are Important to Society
If you step back from your own personal traditions and take a look at human culture as a whole, it’s obvious that people celebrate holidays in a variety of ways. Religions have their specific rituals. Regional influence also plays a role in determining how a certain group of people may observe this time of year. Even within individual families, there are differences.
Some people place an emphasis on giving gifts to those close to them. Others focus more on charitable outreach. Some take this opportunity to embrace the spiritual element of their lives. Others celebrate in a secular manner.
And yet, it seems that nearly all of us make food a key element of the holidays. It’s not just the indulgence of a meal that we enjoy. It’s the way in which coming together to eat gives us a chance to remember how fortunate we are to have family and friends.
Without agrochemicals, this would not be easy.
Agriculture and Agrochemicals Are Also Vital to Society
Although humankind has made tremendous strides over the course of history, we still rely on agriculture to feed us. Without farms, we would have never made it beyond the hunter-gatherer stage.
However, simply planting crops isn’t enough to supply the world’s population with food. Those crops can’t thrive if pests attack them, disease kills them, or competing plants deprive them of nutrients.
That’s why agrochemicals have played such an important role in all human societies. They protect our crops from these dangers, allowing farmers to grow more food for the people of the world. Because agrochemicals also maximize the crop yield of a given farm, they make agriculture a much more financially stable industry to work in.
This doesn’t merely benefit farmers. The more of a crop they are able to grow, the lower the price of that crop. Without agrochemicals, a food source might be considered too rare to price affordably. Farmers simply wouldn’t be able to grow enough to charge lower prices. Thanks to pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and similar products, this isn’t a problem.
Because of this, people across the world are able to spend the holidays with the ones they love, enjoying a meal and each other’s company.
Solving World Hunger through Technology and Generosity
Of course, we must also recognize that we haven’t yet solved the problem of world hunger. Again, the holidays are a time when we frequently display gratitude for what we do have in life, while looking for ways in which we can help those who are not so fortunate.
As an individual, there’s plenty a person can do, from donating items to their local food banks to volunteering at homeless shelters. These are certainly fantastic ways to contribute to making the world a better, safer place for all people.
However, as a society, we should also remember the role that agriculture has played in alleviating hunger. While there are still populations throughout the world experiencing a lack of food, there are far fewer now than there once were. This is largely thanks to the numerous advances in agriculture technology that have been made over the years.
Even now, we’re seeing how techniques like precision farming and tools like unmanned drones can help farmers grow even more food. Instead of treating these innovations as niche interests, we should see them for what they truly are: powerful methods to combat world hunger.
Agrochemicals have already played a tremendous role in helping to solve this problem, and they will continue to do so. In order to maximize their effectiveness in this regard, we must keep looking to new ways in which we can use them, improve on them, and spread them. Doing so will help to feed the world, and that’s the type of goal we should always keep in mind, not merely during the holidays, but every day of the year.
Although agriculture is among the oldest industries in the history of humankind, those who work in this arena continue to embrace the latest technological innovations. This is especially the case when it comes to applying pesticides and other agrochemicals - new tech generally provides for greater precision and efficiency in this process.
Just consider the following examples:
The company Case IH Agriculture has been equipping farmers with tractors, mowers, and numerous other vehicles for years. However, they recently unveiled their Autonomous Concept Vehicle, which could signal a revolution in the industry.
The Case IH Autonomous Concept Vehicle is essentially an unmanned tractor. No human operator is necessary, as it uses radar, cameras, and other features to identify obstacles, correcting its route in order to avoid them. The tractor can run throughout the entire day, controlled remotely via computer or tablet.
Granted, this is not the first prototype of its kind, but it does indicate that momentum has built to a point that unmanned tractors will likely become more commonly used in the future. This has major implications for farmers, especially from an economic perspective. Rather than hiring workers to operate their vehicles, they can cut down on costs (and save a lot of time) by relying on autonomous machines.
For consumers, this could mean more food on the table. With additional time and money at their disposal, farmers can invest those resources back into their products, identifying ways in which they can further increase their overall crop yield.
Of course, it’s unlikely that such changes will happen overnight. However, it seems likely that they will happen sooner rather than later.
Commercial drones are set to offer tremendous benefits to farmers. In some instances, they already have. In Japan, for example, some farmers have used them to help spray pesticides in areas where the terrain is too steep to do so by hand or with grounded machinery. Japanese farmers have also used drones to target flooded rice paddies that were previously difficult (if not impossible) to access. Again, this will play a major role in boosting crop yields.
But drones may not merely make it easier to reach certain areas of a farmer’s property. If technological development continues on its current course, drones may also provide for vastly improved precision. With precision agricultural methods and techniques becoming more commonplace in the industry, it’s a natural step.
Based on recent innovations, it looks as though it may not be long until farmers use drones to conduct aerial surveys of their crops. Using onboard tools, the drones can identify areas where more pesticides or herbicides are necessary, applying the exact amount needed.
This has the potential to save food that would otherwise have been lost to pests, disease, or simple competition for resources. It may also help farms save money by only using the needed amount of agrochemicals.
In Germany, some are taking this concept a step further. At Leibniz University, researchers are working on a laser that could be installed on drones. This device would help further eliminate competitive plants that could otherwise deprive a crop of much-needed resources. The laser would identify weeds based on their shape, shooting the growth center with intense heat to kill the plants.
It’s not science fiction, though it might sound like it.
Progress always takes time. While there are already many incentives for farmers to adopt these technologies, there are also obstacles standing in the way. One of them is money: while drones and unmanned tractors appear to be sound investments in theory, until enough data is available to show that they do indeed offer substantial financial rewards, farmers may be reluctant to make use of them.
Another problem, one which has an indirect but significant effect, is lack of proper infrastructure to support all of the features these new tools have to offer. A drone that flies above a farmer’s crops, using infrared technology to provide a thorough and accurate representation of the health and productivity of a field, is technically a useful tool. However, in many rural areas where farms are based, the infrastructure necessary to quickly relay this information wirelessly simply isn’t in place yet.
Granted, if drones do become more widespread in the agricultural industry, wireless companies will be more likely to erect antenna towers in those areas. However, that could take years. In the meantime, a farmer might feel as though owning a drone with these functions is like owning a sports car with no road to drive it on.
The key lesson to take away from these recent developments is that precision agriculture continues to earn advocates. Additionally, technology companies are responding to such trends.
It probably goes without saying that agrochemical companies will need to respond to these trends as well. It’s an exciting time for the industry, and since farms are essential to stopping world hunger, it’s an exciting time for the world as well.