At the global level, about one third or 1.3 billion tons of food produced for human consumption are lost or wasted annually. In industrialized countries, over 40% of this wastage occurs at retail/consumer level. Smart labelling systems, which provide a visual indicator showing to consumers if a product is fresh or spoiled, can help increase food safety while having the potential to significantly lower food wastage.
In smart farming, automation has always been a step ahead of data analytics – GPS-guided tractors or milking robots provide benefits in terms of comfort, time-saving, seeding or harvesting accuracy. When it comes to reaping the benefits of sensor data collection, however, things are more arduous. Data and sensors do not have value in themselves: they need to be aggregated and milled through data-processing algorithms before they can be turned into valuable information – mostly agronomic advice and other support for farm management.
ICT-enabled livestock farming technologies have long been on the shelves. Unlike dairy or beef farming, however, uptake in the pig industry, which represents more than half (55%) of the meat produced in the EU, has remained modest.
While high-speed wireless internet is becoming a reality for most, many European, North American and Australian farmers still grapple with sluggish connections to the world wide web. Telecommunication companies, it seems, consider that densely populated areas as well as nodal transport infrastructure provide for a better business-case than rural ones when it comes to rolling out fast internet access. As a result, although cellular telecommunication networks are relatively easy set up in comparison to physical ones, such as fiber optics, reliable broadband internet access remains lacking in many peripheral regions, making this one of the biggest hurdles in the way of the smart farming revolution.
The Internet of Food & Farm 2020 (IoF2020) project was featured in the ‘Future of Farming’ event hosted by MEPs Anthea McIntyre and Jan Huitema at the European Parliament on Wednesday, 27 September 2017. The event gathered around 50 experts, end-users and policy-makers with an interest in precision farming and innovative IoT technologies.
Progresses on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) and the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU may spell the end of farming in Japan as we know it. With a rapidly ageing population and a lack of economies of scales due to the small size of the mostly family-owned farming plots, the Japanese agricultural sector needs to reinvigorate itself if it is to stand a free-market shock in the coming years. This is where smart farming comes into play.
Initially developed by the U.S. military, drones are becoming increasingly mainstream: more than two million were sold last year alone for recreational purposes in the U.S. When it comes to commercial applications, these span remote inspection, security services, special delivery, insurance claims and even golfing. But drones also represent the latest trend in the smart farming revolution. In specific, besides their use in cattle herding, drones, formally termed remotely piloted aerial systems (RPAS), come in handy in arable farming.
Better fertilizer provision across the world has enabled farmers to boost yields and save millions of people from starvation. Despite their contribution to the agricultural boom known as the “Green Revolution”, fertilizers are increasingly under the spotlight of environmentalists and policy-makers.