Top 5 Smart Farming Technology Innovations

Top 5 Smart Farming Technology Innovations

September 28, 2023 - Ellie Gabel

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Smart farming technology is reshaping the agriculture industry with countless exciting innovations. Farming is no longer a low-tech profession. New technologies are transforming the way farmers and ranchers operate. How is smart farming technology helping farmers improve their productivity and deliver healthier food? 

What is Smart Farming? 

Smart farming involves applying technologies like AI and IoT to agriculture in order to improve yields, health and efficiency. Farming is often thought of as a low-tech field, but that’s not the case anymore. Modern farming is increasingly utilizing modern technologies that help farmers do their jobs and deliver healthier food for their customers. 

Since agriculture is a diverse industry, smart farming technology varies from one farm to another. A cattle farmer will use different devices than an apple farmer will. However, most smart farms employ similar types of technology to get the job done. This includes sensors, GPS, analytics and robotics, as well as software platforms to view and control all that tech. 

Today’s Top Smart Farming Technology Innovations

What are the most unique and innovative examples of smart farming technology? Numerous advancements have cropped up in recent years with even more on the way. Several exciting technologies are making their way to smart farms around the world. 

1. Fruit Harvesting Robots

A variety of fruit harvesting robots are emerging from researchers and developers. Some are huge pieces of machinery while others are flying drones with arms. They use an array of different gripper technologies to delicately pick fruit. The robots even have AI on board to identify fruit and determine whether or not it’s ripe. 

Fruit harvesting robots are addressing a growing issue in the agricultural industry: labor shortages. More and more farms are struggling to hire enough employees to keep up with demand. Farmers report a lack of interest in agriculture careers among young people in particular. 

Robots are emerging as a prime solution to this challenge. Farmers can use the robots to cover unfilled jobs and eliminate productivity gaps. Fruit harvesting robots are not mainstream quite yet. This particular smart farming technology still needs more R&D to improve performance and affordability. However, it won’t be long before robots are picking fruit all over the world. 

2. AI Cattle Monitoring

Cattle ranchers strive to take great care of their animals. This can be a challenge when there are dozens or hundreds of individual cows to look out for, though. Smart farming technology is helping farmers automate cattle monitoring to improve herd health. 

For example, one cattle monitoring system uses AI facial recognition to identify cows showing symptoms of illness. When any symptoms are detected, the AI alerts farm staff. The rancher can then use a geolocation platform to find the specific cow showing symptoms by tracking an IoT tag on the cow’s ear. 

The IoT tags give each individual cow a unique digital identifier that’s paired with their facial recognition images. Trials of this system showed that it helped ranchers find sick cows several days earlier than they could without technology. As a result, cows received treatment sooner and required fewer overall treatment days. 

3. Farm Drones

Drones are an especially versatile smart farming technology. Farmers can use them for a variety of tasks, ranging from automated crop treatments to aerial land surveying and data collection. 

With drones, farmers can have more independence and control over their operations. Conventional farming practices use small planes to conduct crop spraying processes. However, most farms don’t have their own dedicated plane and pilot. As a result, they may need to wait to get one on-site when needed. 

Drones resolve this issue and allow farmers to get the job done on their own timeline. Crop drone pilot Tracye Beer commented in an interview, “Rather than having to get in line and wait [for a plane], you can fly your drone immediately.” 

Farmers can also use drones to gather information and imagery for their farm. Using sensors and imaging equipment, such as cameras and LiDAR sensors, farmers can use their drones to analyze their land in a high level of detail. They can quickly get precise aerial surveys, collect data on crop health, analyze soil composition and more. 

This wealth of data allows farmers to take a more informed approach to land management. They can make more strategic choices about crop selection or soil treatments. The drone can even give a remote live aerial view of any location on the farm without the farmer going out to the fields in person. 

4. AI Predictive Analytics

Analytics are crucial for farmers’ operations and business health. Data can help them accurately predict upcoming weather and seasonal patterns. It can also reveal important trends and insights about crop health. Analytics is critical for the business side of farming, as well, providing demand forecasting and supply chain intelligence. 

Smart farming technology helps farmers gather and analyze data about their land, crops and business. AI-powered predictive analytics brings data analysis to a new level of accuracy and automation, simplifying the process for farmers. 

AI opens the door for processes like predictive modeling and precision farming. IoT devices collect live data on the crops, livestock or land and transmit that data to an AI that analyzes it. Farmers can then use the AI to create models of probable future outcomes, such as crop yields or the impact of climate change on their land. 

Precision farming applies AI to fine-tune crop treatments. By analyzing data on crop health, farmers can be more precise about how they use treatments like herbicides and fertilizers. They can target specific regions of their land using knowledge of how crops are growing in different areas. 

These processes save money and improve yields. They help farmers stay ahead of nature-related challenges and adapt to climate change. As a result, farms can produce more food and healthier products. 

5. IoT-Powered Equipment Maintenance

Smart farming technology can help farmers save money, improve performance, increase productivity and more. A great example of this is predictive maintenance for farming equipment. 

When farm equipment breaks down, it results in expensive downtime, a loss of productivity and potentially even costly repairs. Farmers can prevent situations like this by using predictive maintenance, which combines IoT sensors and AI data analysis to monitor equipment performance for signs of fatigue. 

Farmers simply install IoT sensors on their farming equipment and set up the sensors in an AI predictive maintenance platform. This software program is where farm staff can view equipment performance metrics and maintenance alerts. The sensors continuously report live performance data that the AI analyzes in real time. 

If the AI detects performance outside expected parameters, it triggers an alert for farm staff. This allows farmers to conduct a quick maintenance checkup and make small repairs if needed. That might seem like a small change in routine, but catching developing maintenance problems early can make a big difference. 

Research shows that predictive maintenance reduces maintenance costs by up to 30% and eliminates over 70% of breakdowns. In the long term, predictive maintenance can even help farmers maximize the lifespan of their equipment. 

Smart Farming Technology: The Future of Agriculture

Smart farming technology is transforming the industry, helping farmers improve their productivity and the quality of their products. From robots to AI, new innovations are coming to the agriculture industry every year. These technologies are resulting in higher efficiency, lower costs, and healthier livestock and crops.

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Ellie Gabel

Ellie Gabel is a science writer specializing in astronomy and environmental science and is the Associate Editor of Revolutionized. Ellie's love of science stems from reading Richard Dawkins books and her favorite science magazines as a child, where she fell in love with the experiments included in each edition.

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