Food waste is becoming a hot topic in the past years and it is easy to understand why, as it is a huge problem. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, up to one third of all produced food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people. This is an incredible amount, especially since we are living in a world where almost a billion people go to bed hungry at night. It is clear that new solutions to this problem are more welcome than ever before.
The effervescence of digitisation in the agri-food sector is spilling over to agricultural machinery. Let us recapitulate the innovations shown by industry stakeholders at previous European agricultural machinery fairs. Revealing at the very beginning of this article that most of them are based on IoT technologies, should not come as a surprise. The European Commission estimates 70 - 80% of new farm equipment is built with a precision farming component, relying on network devices.
Large scale macro-farms are replacing family owned micro-farms. The demand for food is escalating. Agribusiness is turning to the Internet of Things (IoT) for analytics and greater production capabilities. Farmers create more efficient operations to gather information in the field, quickly synthesize data and make intelligent decisions to manage their business and reap the benefits of precision farming.
Learning from livestock behaviour and developing patterns is the first step in making global agriculture more productive, humane and sustainable. Yet, before behavioural patterns for each individual animal can be developed, data on eating, rumination, walking, standing or laying must be analysed among other parameters and embedded in a user-friendly platform. The results are insights which help farmers to decide when issues are most relevant to be actioned.
It can be very challenging for the agri-food sector to determine the optimal time for harvesting, storage, and transport of their products. However, new technologies arise that could help diminish substantial degradation and waste. In the food packaging field, intelligent packaging is one of these newest technologies.
With an ever-growing population, the land used for agricultural activity must become more productive. This means continuing to adapt with the technological changes that a modern world brings. One of those critical pieces of innovation provides support while being far away from any farmland: Satellites.
For 12,000 years, we have been continuously breeding crops aiming to increase their yield. Agricultural practices are the main determinant of the food production level and indirectly, being a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Conventional agricultural procedures date back to the mid-20th century with the initiation of the Green Revolution. Since then, agricultural production has been increasing tremendously, mostly due to the adoption of high-yielding varieties, chemical fertilisers, pesticides, irrigation and mechanisation.
Big Data can improve decision making for farmers and fishermen. The project 'Data-driven bio-economy' (DataBio) demonstrates the benefits of Big Data technologies in the production of raw materials from agriculture, forestry and fisheries. DataBio helps the bioeconomy industry to produce food, energy and biomaterials in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Successful agricultural operations depend on crop monitoring for nutrients, irrigation, diseases, and overall plant health. Traditionally this has been carried out by visual examination of crops on the ground. However, these methods are limited and only fighting the symptoms instead of proactively preventing them. Fortunately, precision agriculture provides solutions using artificial intelligence and hyperspectral imaging for optimized crop yield and fertilization while reducing environmental impact. The key is targeted application rather than whole-field treatment. But let’s not put the cart before the horse and define the underlying concepts before we dive deeper into the matter.