Technology seeks to increase productivity and profitability. And the agricultural sector is not left out. Digitalizing tasks such as planting, harvesting, and spraying can help reduce labour costs and improve efficiency. Automated systems can also monitor crop health, soil conditions, and schedule irrigation systems.
Private companies, fueled by institutional support, have been researching for years. The digital revolution is already here. Thanks to 5G technology, seeing tractors and harvesters working alone in large expanses of crops is not science fiction. And controlling crops from the smartphone is something the farmer can do 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And act in remote mode.
These are three of the most relevant advances:
- Agriculture 4.0: Smart sensors and robotic systems.
Smart sensors are devices that are placed on crops and allow precise, real-time monitoring of environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity, light, and soil pH, among other factors that influence crop development. Thanks to this data, farmers can make decisions and optimize the use of resources and improve the quality and quantity of their crops. Thanks to this data, farmers can make decisions and optimize the use of resources and improve the quality and quantity of their crops. It can also be used for harvesting and handling fruit, gathering useful information for the farmer, and sorting to avoid food waste.
- Use of drones
Drones, aerial vehicles without a crew, contribute to the collection of accurate data and information on crops thanks to their high-definition cameras. The multispectral images they capture provide information on the composition of the soil and the special requirements it needs in terms of nutrients, fertilizer and water. They are also infallible for detecting pests. And they can be used for air spraying or even mobilizing livestock.
- Intelligent water use
Seventy per cent of the freshwater extracted in the world is used for agriculture (the sector that consumes the most). There are tools that make it possible to determine the water needs of crops and adopt precision irrigation. This helps to produce more with the least amount of water possible. A novel project underway is the installation of photovoltaic solar energy to power the pumps and electrical elements of agricultural production.
“In the next 10 years, we are going to see a digital transformation in in the agri-food sector and farmers who do not join in will be left behind in profit and yield.” This is how Inma Martínez, chair of the Committee of Experts and co-chair of the Executive Committee of the GPAI (G7 Agency for the Cooperation of Artificial Intelligence), stated it during her time in El Ejido (Almería) at Datagri 2022.
In this line, “Almeria’s countryside is a clear example of the use of technology. It is a world reference. Here we work in an innovative way with a vision of the future and it is a model that has much to contribute to other regions of the world. It is truly an Agro Silicon Valley “, she concluded.