To feed the estimated 8,5 billion people that will inhabit the earth in 2030, new ways of food production will be applied, while the efficiencies of current practices are maximized at the same time as reducing the environmental footprint1. Precision agriculture, or precision farming, aims to improve the accuracy and control in farm management to increase environmental performance and yields, while reducing inputs and costs.
Precision agriculture leverages information technology and a wide array of technologies such as GPS guidance, control systems, sensors, robotics, drones, autonomous vehicles, variable rate technology, GPS -based soil sampling, automated hardware, satellites and image recognition.
Drone-powered solutions will address major challenges within soil and field analysis, planting, crop spraying, crop health assessments, monitoring, and irrigation experienced during traditional farming. As an example, drone technology in combination with advanced image recognition can be used to detect nutrient and disease issues before they are visible to the human eye.
Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides will be delivered to plants encapsulated in nanoparticles, allowing for nutrients and agrochemicals to be released in a slow and sustainable manner, reducing and even eliminating the large runoff of fertilizers causing pollution of our waterways. At the same time nano-biosensors will provide information about levels of pesticides in crops allowing for more precise biomonitoring
The rising population’s huge demand for food, in combination with changing weather conditions induced by climate change and governmental initiatives towards adopting modern environmentally friendly agricultural processes, are expected to drive the precision agriculture market globally. The largest impact will be seen in countries with developed economies and large farmlands, notably in Europe and in the US. The global precision agriculture market is expected to grow from USD 4.84 billion in 2018 to USD 10.16 billion by 20242 and will continue to grow towards 2030. While providing the ability to reduce manual work and hence the number of jobs related to traditional farming, precision agriculture will create new jobs in rural areas to operate, maintain and repair new high-tech equipment. Work efforts are also needed to connect and analyse data from the various technologies so that it can be translated into actionable knowledge.
Little or no impact is expected to be seen in developing countries where about two-thirds of the 475 million farm households are smaller than 2 hectares. Farmers here produce food for a substantial part of the world’s population while at the same time being poor, food insecure, and having limited access to electricity, water, markets and services3.Risks and uncertainties
There are several uncertainties related to the market impact of precision agriculture. First of all, it requires high investment and is mainly relevant for farms in developed countries with large scale production systems.Contributors
Main author: Marte Rusten
Contributors: Sharmini Alagaratnam; Erik Andreas Hektor; Anne Louise Koefoed; Bente Pretlove
Editor: Per Busk Christiansen