Top 5 Technological Innovations in Agriculture

By: Chireez Fredericks

Since the birth of human civilisation, agriculture has drastically changed. Plagued by numerous challenges such as land scarcity, climate change, the spread of pests and diseases and the loss of biodiversity, farming has gone from being a labour-intensive industry to a strategic and logical decision-making one. And rightly so!

According to the World Bank, agriculture is critical to the African economy as it employs 65-70% of Africa’s workforce and typically accounts for 30-40% of the GDP. This means that Africa must maximise agricultural productivity to ensure food security and economic growth. This is where the latest technological innovations come into play.

Let’s take a look at the top 5 technological innovations in agriculture:

Agricultural robotics

In large field operations, a shortage of labour is a critical problem facing farmers. This is where agricultural robots play an important role. These robots can be used for several tasks that will ease the burden on the farmers and allow them to focus more on improving overall productivity, without having to worry about slow farm processes. The primary role of agricultural robots is to tackle labour-intensive, repetitive and physically demanding tasks.

Aerial imagery

Aerial imagery is captured using a satellite or a low altitude aircraft, such as a plane or a drone. The main advantage of aerial imagery is its ability to provide a bird’s eye view of a farm. With aerial images farmers can decide when pruning might be necessary by looking at the tree canopy from above. Aerial imagery is also essential for land mapping. The maps created from captured images are linked to land ownership records to create formal land registers and keep track of land ownership. Farmers can feel secure about their land ownership as a result of this.

Regenerative agriculture

Land degradation in Africa negatively impacts nearly half of all productive land as conventional farming practices lead to longterm erosion and crusting of soil. Often, the ploughing, tilling and overgrazing don’t allow much time for the soil to revive before the next cropping season. Regenerative agriculture, on the other hand, causes minimal soil disturbance while focusing on improving soil biodiversity and topsoil revival. It involves different practices like no-till farming, reduced tillage, crop rotation and more.

Digital information sharing

In our ever-growing digital age, data is recognised as a powerful tool in all sectors, including agriculture. New digital technologies from satellites to telecommunications and even the internet have made farming data more reliable. Not only does this data and information sharing allow farmers to access a wealth of knowledge at a click of a button but also allows them to find buyers for their harvested produce, reduce food waste and assist them in making timely decisions.

Indoor vertical farming

The land for agriculture is very limited so vertical farming has become popular in countries such as South Africa. Vertical farming is a farming technique where plants are grown stacked in vertical rows. Along with the scarcity of land, the drought crisis and the harsh African climate, vertical farming offers a promising outlook on food and crops. A large reason for that is because vertical farming allows for the use of up to 95% less water than what is normally used for crops.

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