October 20, 2015

 

Technology, Big Data creating the New Farmer -- report

 

 

Technology and Big Data are helping in the making of the new breed of farmers and processors, who are creating the food and agriculture industry of the future, a report by the agricultural lender Rabobank says.

 

The report, presented at the six-month Expo Milano 2015 in Milan, Italy, which ends October 31, cites, for one, the increasing use of drones by farmers to monitor and boost livestock and crops, as well as measure pasture and grass growth.

 

Other new tools that farmers are taking advantage of, according to the report are:

 

* Big Data, which major retailers are using to track purchases and monitor the quality of perishable goods, enabling them to meet consumer demand more effectively. At the same time, the report adds, "Ag Tech" start-ups are developing ways to help farmers increase yields and cut costs through weather information, analytics and soil monitoring, among others.

 

* Poultry production, through which processors can monitor the performance of poultry farmers, providing guidance on potential productivity and welfare gains. "Growing control over poultry hatching, production and processing can boost productivity and profitability up to 5%", the report says.

 

* Smart irrigation - With the use of GPS, plant and soil sensors, farmers are provided with real-time data on spray systems to optimise the delivery of water and fertilisers.

 

'Technology automates'

 

Justin Sherrard, global strategist at Rabobank, explains that technology automates the way things happen while big data tells stakeholders what is happening, thus helping them in their decision-making.

 

Rabobank also identifies "three keys" essential for global food and agriculture industry to be able to meet the demands of the next 10 years:

 

* Strengthen supply chains: Buyers and suppliers must make new investments and take on new risks in pursuit of new rewards. Success will depend on greater connectivity between buyers and suppliers, sharing data and making joint decisions in real time.

 

* Enable investment: New approaches and technologies will require understanding and support from both investors and regulators, who will need to provide frameworks where technology can be used safely and effectively.

 

* Achieve societal acceptance: Consumer concerns including genetic modification and cloning, data privacy, food waste and nutrition should be addressed and taken into account in the change process.

 

"A smarter food system is more productive, less wasteful, and more profitable," explains Fred van Heyningen, global head for food and agri banking at Rabobank. "It combines technology and data to change the way, as well as the speed, at which decisions are made and to optimise the use of resources to produce and deliver the food consumers' need and where they need it".

 

According to Rabobank, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation anticipates a 30% increase in global daily food demand by 2025. "This will require a global food system that is more efficient, better able to meet consumer expectations, more profitable, and more resilient in the face of macro-economic pressures", the report says. --Rick Alberto

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