Agriculture is a significant sector that is vital for the survival of modern man. Plants are the starting point in the food chain, and without them, the life cycle would not be possible. Agriculture is a vast field that requires the support of disciplines from other sectors to thrive fully. Disciplines such as economics, management, and technology play an integral part in the industry. In the past decade, the role of information technology has proved to be game changer in Agriculture.
Information technology in agriculture has become more and more visible. Information technology is utilizing computers along with telecommunication equipment for the storage, retrieval, transmission, and manipulation of data.
Successful integration of IT in different sectors has made it possible for people in the IT industry to make changes which can help other sectors, such as agriculture, as well.
What is Information Technology?
Information technology deals with the usage of computers and other telecommunication hardware for the transmission, storage, retrieval, and manipulation of data. Subsequently, IT helps in improving the efficiency of different sectors.
As agriculture revolution started with smart farming techniques, everybody is thinking of utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) as they have excellent benefits in farming sector.
Many people often wonder how information technology and agriculture are related, yet they are different and contrasting domains. Agriculture has been in practice for centuries, whereas IT is a young discipline discovered few decades ago. However, IT plays a significant role in the agricultural industry.
Benefits of IT in Agricultural Sector
1 Improved productivity.
Farmers need information on the latest varieties, changing weather patterns, crop production techniques (crop rotation), and improved agronomic practices to produce a high yield. Information technology can play a critical role in ensuring the farmers access this information, regardless of their agro-ecological location.
Consequently, through IT, farmers in Africa can know what farmers in other parts of the world are doing. This knowledge gain assists the farmers to improve their farming skills,. Consequently, farming practices have improved yielding excellent thus improved farming, resulting in high yields.
2 Community involvement.
There are several programs made possible by IT applications, and community involvement in agriculture can be increased. When a community adopts modern technologies for agriculture, the yield increases. There are many areas where people have greatly benefited from the land and their resources for agriculture.
Information Technology can help in the development of the local farming community, leading to their community’s overall improved production and better income for all involved.
3 Post-Harvest practices and value addition.
After good crop farming practices are assisted with technology, most farmers get many crop yields after harvesting. However, a few months later, they incur losses due to poor storage. This does not happen in the developed countries as they have suitable storage structures.
Information technology has allowed farmers to learn about the latest post-harvest handling and storage techniques used in other countries. This helps in reducing the losses due to wastage.
Data regarding crop, animal, or any other farm activity can be generated and stored in a much more accessible manner. These activities, such as irrigation or spraying, can be carried out even in the farmer’s absence. Thus it makes service delivery very effective.
Weather Forecasting and Climate-smart Agriculture.
IT usage in automated farm machines that are scheduled to carry out activities are a reality today. The climate and weather play a crucial role in farming. With the use of IT infrastructure, farmers can receive weather forecasts, and therefore they plan when to irrigate, farmers should use plants, and how much water for irrigation. This plays a vital role in agricultural production.
Global Positioning System (GPS) and remote sensing are two critical areas in modern-day farming. The farm’s location is crucial since it dictates various factors. These factors range from the seed varieties, the amount and type of irrigation, and the type of crops to be planted.
With IT, it is easier to locate a farm, even if it is miles away. The global positioning system (GPS) has enabled professionals in the agricultural field to classify different areas into different agro-ecological zones.
Decision Support System for Farmers
Farmers are very cautious and always avoid risks. In an emerging situation, competitive advantage must be fully exploited to improve export potential. One can record particular thrusts to meet the international standards in this sector. Opportunities for specialization have good export potential.
Improved decision-making by the farmer.
Practicing information technology makes it easier to develop farm records and regular follow-up on the dairy farm events. This enables the farmer to make the correct decisions regarding important farm related matters. Some of these are selection of fertilizers, the seeds to be planted, when to market their products and employing the best farming practices.
Facilitate farmers to form appropriate alliances for the collective benefit
The size of land holdings usually acts as a significant barrier in realizing any export potential. Farmers can come together through cooperative alliances to remain competitive and to derive better price realizations.
Farmers can come together online to facilitate the disposal of their produce at attractive prices and beyond geographical barriers by promoting relief. The development of complex IT systems can support post-harvest technology, storage, proper bricks, and mortar infrastructure, etc.
The fluctuations in the international scene affects the local agriculture sector. it is necessary to be vigilant to external shocks caused in the international market. This requires close monitoring of the global supply systems, demand scenario, the macro-economic factors, and it is essential to develop political disruptions.
The corporates must develop warning systems to alert farmers. It maintains information related to agriculture and related activities of all the major organizations. Regular analysis of Periodic analytical reports can enhance and forecast warnings.
Applicability of IoT in Agriculture
You must have realized how life changed in the past decade and is still evolving? All the industry domains are becoming computerized and automated, and agriculture is no different. Information technology has changed our social behavior and lifestyle. Particularly, it has connected the world. Consequently, one cannot imagine communication or transportation without it, but how has it changed agriculture?
Smart Farming is an effective system of doing agriculture and sustainably cultivating food. IoT farming is an application of implementing connected devices and innovative technologies together into agricultural domain.
Smart Farming depends on IoT, thereby eliminating the need for physical work of farmers and growers. Subsequently, this increases productivity to a great extent.
In the recent agriculture trends, IoT farming has brought huge advantages like an efficient use of water, optimization of inputs, and many more. Subsequently, this has made a marked difference were the vast advantages and which has become a revolutionized agriculture in recent days.
IoT smart farming has the potential in improving the entire agriculture ecosystem by monitoring the field in real-time. The sensors and interconnectivity in IoT in Agriculture has saved the farmers’ time and has led to optimum use of resources. It keeps several factors like humidity, temperature, soil, etc. gives a crystal precise real-time observation.
How Can Information Technology Help Agriculture?
Data collection, monitoring, and evaluation are vital parts of development work. Consequently, the results of the data analysis assists in identifying where public services are required and what approaches can be the most effective.
In rural areas, manual data collection is the norm and assessing of data in the field and monitor and evaluate projects. This approach is very time-consuming and prone to human error.
Consequently, information and communication technologies perform these tasks in agricultural development projects. Moreover, they are giving remarkable positive results.
Devices and Programs Used in Agriculture
There are immense possibilities for information technology in agriculture. Remote sensing using satellite technologies, agronomy, soil sciences, geographic information systems are some of them. All of these can increase the agricultural output. However, these technologies are more suitable for farming on a larger scale.
However, one can put some more universal tools to good use in agriculture.
- Computer-controlled devices or automated systems Automated milking systems can milk the dairy cattle with less human labor. Farmers can save time for supervisory duties.
- RFID (Radio-frequency identification) facilitates easier identification and provides data, such as the bearer’s location, breeder’s name, livestock origin, sex, and movement dates. It also offers improvements in controlling disease outbreaks in livestock.
- Smartphone mobile apps in agriculture. The users and corporates have developed several smartphone apps for agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, and farm machinery.
- E-learning. There is no age limit for learning. It is never too late to learn. E-learning allows farmers to share information and learn within a greater community.
- E-commerce is an easy way for farmers to buy agri-inputs and agri-equipment and sell their products.
- Сomputer-aided manufacturing. A manufacturing process that assists in all farm operations, including planning and management.
We can therefore conclude that information technology is an integral part of farming. Thus we should embrace it thoroughly, and we need to move away from the local and traditional way of farming. IT integrated farming can give higher yields as compared to conventional agriculture.