As the global population grows to over 9 billion by 2050, so does the demand for more food production. We will need to produce the same amount of food over the next three decades that was produced over the past 8,000 years. This demand is not only to ensure food security but it also promises to make a tangible economic impact for agricultural companies. Meeting up with these already steep demands has become even more difficult owing to climate change and other factors. Now more than ever, agriculture needs all the assistance it can get from technology and innovation to feed the world’s ever-growing population. Agricultural organisations need innovations that increase yield.
To appreciate the solutions offered by technology and innovations, let’s see some major causes of low-yielding crops: poor water supply/utilization, low-yielding soil, outdated knowledge and processes, and pests and pathogens.
Poor Water Supply/Utilization
Reduced supply is a major concern here. When crops do not have enough water, the yield is always negatively impacted because the plants cannot properly synthesize and absolve nutrients. As most of the agriculture in the tropics is rainfed, most farmers are stuck with whatever rain the season brings. They cannot control the quantity or timing of the rains and are majorly left to be reactive rather than proactive in maximizing the rains. Irrigation as an alternative is not usually an affordable option.
Globally, the quality of soil has been deteriorating, negatively impacting crop yields and crop quality. The use of chemicals has been increasing in a bid to make up for the soil’s low nutrient content. Experts say the use of chemicals might work for a few years but after some time, the negative impact becomes evident on the soil. The need for crops that can thrive on fewer nutrients is highest now.
Outdated Knowledge and Processes
This has become a serious factor hindering yield. The effects of climate change have forced a redesign of the way agriculture is done. For instance, farmers and agribusinesses can no longer rely on previous times of the year it rained to plan their activities. Crops that used to thrive on their farms no longer do so well, maybe due to nutrient depletion, diseases or environmental factors. Also, manual labor is no longer enough to produce the amount of yield there is already a demand for. Hence, there is a need to farm differently if their efforts must be successful. Any agribusiness or farmer stuck in the old processes does so because they do not know any better or cannot afford better processes.
Pests and Pathogens
It is no secret that pests and pathogens can greatly reduce crop yields. Pests can inhibit the growth and development of crops, resulting in stunted growth and inevitably, low yield. Also, some pathogens can survive for long periods in the soil, leaving the soil diseased for quite a long period. This increases the risk of diseases occurring on crops farmed on that soil and ultimately, low yield.
With advances in technology and innovation, farmers and agribusinesses can more efficiently produce more with less manpower, increasing yields while using fewer inputs.
Here are some innovations that increase yield;
Fewer drops, more crop is the driving statement with mOasis. They manufacture BountiGel, a non‐toxic, next-generation soil additive that allows farmers to optimize the usage of water in agricultural soil. With this innovation, farmers can increase their yield while utilizing less water.
Ignitia is the world’s first and most accurate tropical weather forecasting company that provides daily weather forecasts to farmers in the tropics via SMS. Having accurate weather forecasts is important since humans cannot control the weather or the amount and timing of the rains. This insight of what is coming enables farmers and agribusinesses to take advantage of the already erratic weather patterns in the tropics. Ignitia assists farmers and agri-companies better plan their farming activities; from planting to farm input applications, harvest schedules to optimize for maximum yield. Ignitia’s weather forecasts are delivered by SMS negating the need for a smartphone to access the weather forecasts in the case of smallholder farmers. For mid-big agribusinesses, Ignitia’s web dashboard (ojo) provides these larger organizations with highly accurate weather insights for the tropics.
This is an app that helps you monitor the health of soils on your farm. Soilmentor software helps farmers understand changes on their farms above & below ground and make informed decisions. This allows farmers and agri-companies to take proactive steps in ensuring maximum yield by knowing the state of their soils. They can decide what crops to farm or what fertilizers to add for the best productivity.
Farm Hack is a platform to share and update agricultural knowledge. It features topics from farming tools to low-cost low-tech solutions farmers have developed for their farms. Farm Hack embodies their forum statement that “we become better farmers when we work together”.
Trapview does well in pest control. It is an automated pest monitoring and forecasting platform that provides near real-time indications of pest occurrences. This allows farmers to successfully respond to situations in the field. With Trapview, farmers can achieve increased accuracy of monitoring pests, more efficient pest control and can also optimize pesticide application timings.
Kray Technologies created the world’s first digital, fully unmanned-drone crop-sprayer that delivers fertilizers and pesticides right to farmers’ fields. This drone can process up to 1200 acres per day. It is a cheaper option because it requires less fuel, less maintenance, and less staff compared to other alternative methods of spraying.
The stakes are high for the world if food production does not match the demand of the teeming population. While the situation is worrisome, there is hope as a result of these technologies and innovations in place to assist farmers and agribusinesses to meet the steep demand for food globally. With these innovations, the future of agriculture, achieving zero hunger globally and economic gain for agribusinesses and farmers is possible.
What are your thoughts on these innovations that increase yield? Do let us know in the comments section. Also, feel free to list other innovations that increase yield for agribusinesses and farmers.
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