Modern agriculture is the era in which advances in technology started appearing in agriculture and agribusiness; where tractors were introduced, quickly followed by new harvesting equipment, through to improved irrigation technology. All of these advances assisted in the improvement of produce quality and in higher yields. Today, farming in South Africa, and on an international level, is very different to what it was 100 years ago. Now, with several core technologies driving a new modern era, such as IoT (Internet of Things) and automation technology, we can predict the benefits that agriculture in South Africa will experience through this smart technology.
Advanced Sensor Capabilities and IoT Connectivity
All physical devices which are connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data, are grouped together as the Internet of Things (IoT). Any physical object can be used as an IoT device if it can be connected and controlled through the internet, the addition of sensor technology then allows for some level of automation between devices.
This two-way communication can be implemented on farms through systems such as wireless soil sensors which can calculate moisture and nutrition levels, this data can then be used to guide an irrigation system to water when needed. Not only does this level of intelligent monitoring allow for a seamless labour process, but it also has a high level of efficiency. In this case, an irrigation system that only runs when a sensor sends the communication on low moisture levels would mean limiting water usage to only when necessary – saving on water and energy.
Drones and The Use of Aerial Imagery
Through a combination of the use of drones, aerial imagery and GPS technology, a useful data map can be created to accomplish various tasks. A farmer would be able to create a digital field map in order to prescribe the day’s work. These photographs can be used for monitoring soil condition and detecting plant stress, pest infestation, and the onset of decay. Making use of this technology not only cuts on labour charge and time but also allows for more informed decision making.
Other Advanced Digital Tools Being Used in Modern Agriculture
In agriculture, sensors are not limited to being used for soil monitoring, sensors which monitor the down planting pressure in order to maintain the ideal planting depth by adjusting the pressure accordingly also exist. This technology gives the seeds the best chance at achieving growth at a healthy rate.
Advances in the production of herbicides and tillage equipment also allow farmers to till less frequently, this improves soil health and is more energy efficient.
These current and upcoming technology trends are sure to provide agriculture in South Africa with loads of data and potential in the years to come. Another must for potential modern farmers is to keep their eyes on the latest products available using an agricultural service and product directory. Expert industry sites, such as Agrifood SA, also aim to keep you up to date with the latest developments when it comes to farming in South Africa.