Why AgTech isn’t a “come and go” technology disruption

What is AgTech?

AgTech by definition is the uniting of the agriculture and technology industries. Over the past years we’ve seen this unfold in front of our eyes with the emergence of smart and vertical farms. But the trend towards technology in agriculture is only getting started.

There’s an exciting buzz in the air surrounding the marriage of IoT and agriculture. Now, in addition to the Internet of Things, comes the Internet of Food or AgTech.

The concept of smart farms is not new to the industry. Technology has been inching its way into the farming sector for years now. However, the growth that’s coming from the AgTech industry is not simply about the bottom line. Real world forecasting drives the need for technology advances in agriculture.

Why is AgTech necessary?

Population Growth vs. farmable land – The United Nations estimate that human population will continue to rise to global capacity in 2100 with 11 billion people. Additional projections show that we will not have enough farmable land to keep up with food demands.

Have you heard the story of the St Matthews Reindeer?

In 1944, the US coast guard placed 29 reindeer on St. Matthews Island. The reindeer were intended to be an emergency roaming food source for the stationed soldiers. But soon after, the station was vacated and the reindeer were left to fend for themselves.

With an abundant food supply of lichen, the reindeer thrived. By 1963 the population had reached 6,000, but scientists observed that the food source was virtually depleted, and the reindeer were showing signs of malnourishment.

When researchers returned in 1966, they discovered that all but 41 female reindeers had perished. By the 1980’s, the species was extinct.

We as a species, cannot take for granted the preciousness of our resources. We must not squander them away with no thought to the future, to do so would be at our own demise.

Climate Change – Shifts in weather patterns, droughts, flooding, and water shortages are all factors that affect crop yields. Pollution has a tremendous impact on the quality of soil, and therefore needs to be controlled.

Consumer Trends – The growing awareness of healthy food, and trends towards fresh foods could put added demand on the industry.

There’s too much at stake to continue as we have been. We as a species are constantly evolving, we must allow our agriculture methods to also evolve if we have hope to provide enough food for future generations.

Investments growing in AgTech

The good news for farmers is that organizations like the UN, WFP, and other entities are supporting initiatives that make it easier for farmers to adopt new technologies.

The European Commission has allocated 30 million euros for the Internet of Food and Farm (IOF2020). The initiative is to build a lasting innovation ecosystem that support the use of IoT technologies in agriculture.

Both government and private VC organizations are working in connection to make AgTech accessible and affordable for farmers.  2018 alone was a “record breaking year” for the AgTech industry with $16.9 billion invested. This much needed capital from the investment community shows that the industry is being set up for long term sustainable growth.

How can I integrate AgTech in my farm?

The first, and one of the most important steps to integrating AgTech in your company, is by implementing an ERP system like the industry solution agilesFood. ERP systems create transparent processes and a more complete overview of the supply chain. They also provide a framework for data collected by smart farming technologies.

Data collected by AgTech can be harnessed and maximized by the structure provided by an ERP system. One example of this can be seen with RTI’s. The IOF 2020 are currently running a trial to test the impact of equipping Returnable Transport Items (RTI’s) with RFID chips. This network of information would provide growers with higher logistical transparency, reduced food waste, lower CO2 emissions, and increase the safety and quality of food for the customer.

There are several new AgTech startups and conferences gaining popularity in Europe. Each with a unique way of using technology to help farming. The key is finding the right technology to fit for your business. Don’t know where to start? Contact our team of experts for an evaluation of your current operations and see how an ERP system can help grow your business.

Get set for the future

Integrating the power of technology into how we grow food is the most important way we can secure the food supply for future generations. AgTech is not a fad that will simply fade away with time, it’s a necessary part of the evolution of farming, and it’s here to stay.

Real world projections, along with new and exciting technological advances in farming have allowed AgTech to take root, and the industry growth that will follow in the next years will be unlike anything we’ve seen since the invention of the tractor.