10 Key Trends in Agriculture and How They Will Shape the Industry: Part 2
Demands are changing, agriculture technology is enhancing, and every step of the fresh produce supply chain will feel some effect. The shape of agriculture must adapt to meet the needs of millions more hungry mouths while utilising land and resources at a higher efficiency than before. To understand how the landscape of fresh produce is evolving, we continue our agriculture trends research to keep growers, retailers, importers and wholesalers ahead of the curve.
The question is, which ones should we be paying close attention to? Here are the remaining 5 agriculture trends to watch:
6. Digital Information Sharing
We are no longer asking if agri-data will be a common commodity because it’s already happening and will continue to happen on an increasing scale. To understand this more clearly, it is important to explore which data is valuable in agribusiness. As it stands, data collected by growers is useful for big agriculture companies who can absorb this data to clarify agriculture trends in farming practices, efficiency and further understand where companies can capitalise on investments.
This means growers are able to share data from their farms which can be sold as an additional asset on top of their physical produce. FruPro has been aligning with this data sharing trend since the company’s inception. At its core, FruPro exists to make information sharing smoother and clearer for all parties of the fresh produce supply chain, but the difference is, you don’t need to be a data expert to make the most of our platform.
Since the inception of precision farming in the 90s, the utility of certain data gathering has been debated, but today, the agri-world is experiencing its highest rates of data gathering ever. As put by precisionag.com “The potential to realize value from data can often stem from sharing it via digital technologies to service providers or with trusted consultants.” In addition to the secondary revenue that data can generate, the electronically stored information will be essential in adapting to the extreme climate changes faced – particularly, droughts and floods that demand new innovation in agriculture. Acknowledging this, FruPro has matured out of an environment that increasingly values digital information-sharing platforms, connecting B2B and B2C operations.
7. Increased Drone (UAV) Application
Despite futuristic undertones, drones have become a standard part of modern life. A drone or UAV is a remotely controlled uncrewed aircraft, capable of carrying various practical attachments and gathering information via fitted cameras. Whether used for artistic filming, military surveillance or in this case – precision agriculture; drones have become widely accessible and versatile in their application.
Typically, agriculture technology has existed to make farming more efficient, cost-effective and less labour intensive. As centuries have passed since the industrial revolution, technology has striven to reduce the physical labour of humans whilst increasing the overall level of productivity. Drones are no different in this respect.
Most commonly, drones are used to understand biophysical characteristics by collecting data with cameras, but they can also be used to monitor and spray crops.
Agricultural drone cameras fall into three main types:
- Multispectral: used to understand vegetation state
- Hyperspectral: used to calculate chemical attributes
- Thermal: used to evaluate water stress
By extracting information from these images, farmers are able to obtain important variables within crops such as biomass, diseases, water stress, pest infestations and nutrient deficiencies.
Aside from monitoring, drones can be used for crop spraying and are fitted with various attachments such as large tanks (some up to 10 litres) thus having the capability to spread pesticides at high rates of a hectare per 10 minutes. When used in this way, it is encouraged that spraying drones are combined with monitoring drones to assess how efficiently and accurately agrochemicals are being used and to spray crops respective to this information. According to Goldman and Sachs, UAV application will be the 2nd most useful application to agriculture in the next five years.
As a platform, FruPro appreciates the value of digitising the fresh produce sector because so many processes are still manual and let’s face it, outdated. In the same vein, large areas of the agri-sector are moving towards digitisation and the integration of robotics. With Brexit leaving the UK understaffed in fruit picking and other labour sectors, the demand for workers has made robots more attractive. Robots are now proving useful in monitoring product quality and gathering more efficient databases about crops and produce.
In the UK, agriculture robotics have helped respond to the fruit picking crisis and leading agriculture tech and knowledge hubs (like the National Farmers Union, Agri-EPI centre and Knowledge Transfer Network) are now pushing for this change in the agribusiness approach. Robotics is likely to be a key agri-trend in the near future because of its hybrid use with labour that will save costs.
9. Water Management Focus
As we learn more about agri-trade, we also learn more about how agriculture affects the environment and how agriculture causes climate change. Irrigated agriculture represents 20% of the world’s total arable land and from this land comes 40% of the world’s total food. Since the demand for water is only increasing, the same amount of water and irrigated land is going to need to produce greater returns. As the global population rises and the climate faces more extreme weather patterns like droughts, existing water management must improve, particularly in the agri-sector which is responsible for 70% of freshwater withdrawals globally.
As these facts calcify, the demand for innovation and interaction between all levels of the supply becomes increasingly hard to ignore. By connecting the whole supply chain through one easy-access platform, FruPro demands higher transparency in the industry and with this, improved communication. The result is less wastage and an essential move towards sustainable supply chains.
What we expect to see as water demand increases is that water will be rediverted from agriculture to other areas. Estimations predict that 20-40% of current agri-water will be relocated, therefore, there is a demand for new innovation in agriculture that must drastically raise efficiency. Since 2000 the EU has been pushing for more sustainable water management in agriculture but sadly, policies have failed to be as thorough as they promised.
Analysis of irresponsible water management has not taken proper consideration of water-stressed regions and “many Member States do not apply the principle of cost recovery for water services in agriculture as they do in other sectors”. This is made evident by the fact that the past 55 years have seen a 17% reduction in renewable water resources. The task now is to do more with less and, though difficult, this process is likely to grab the attention of investors who understand the value of sustainable innovation.
10. Internet of Things (IoT)
This term expands far beyond agriculture but is proving to be closely aligned with new and auspicious agriculture trends. The Internet of Things is the combining of an object (or groups of objects) with sensors and software that enable data collection and sharing. Well known in smart-home appliances like smart meters, the Internet of Things has many uses in agriculture that can increase farming productivity.
By combining the knowledge of the farmer with data collecting and monitoring appliances, things like soil moisture, humidity and pests become better managed. Having accurate data on these variables allows resources to be allocated without excess and ensures areas of need are targeted quickly. In this sense, IoT has similar aims to the FruPro business model, by reducing waste in the fresh produce sector and working at sustainable alternatives. As IoT integration continues in agriculture, current estimations predict that the global smart agriculture market is set to reach $15-29 million  by 2025, which would be as much as eight times the value it was in 2015.
The Bottom Line for Agriculture Trends
Alongside our previous article, this discussion offers the final missing pieces for the full picture of agriculture trends in the coming years. FruPro works hard to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to shifting tides in the agri-business. In order to keep all our clients connected and up to date, we need to stay up to date and well-researched ourselves.
Analysing these key agriculture trends is essential for keeping our platform current, but more importantly, to ensure we embrace the future. It’s clear that tech and innovation are rippling through the agriculture industry in a way that we have not seen before, this is evident by the fact four out of five of these agriculture trends mentioned hold electronic technology at their core.
Not only do we hope that this information positively steers businesses towards the latest developments, but also, that it helps keep us at FruPro informed about what our clients need and how these things may be set to change as we encounter an increasingly challenging future.