Nothing New for Agribusiness
Innovation in the agribusiness is not a new phenomenon. It has been going on for many years often without many people being aware of it outside that business itself. That continuous innovation has resulted in todays agribusinesses being much more productive than previous generations of agribusinesses.
Some studies put the average agribusinesses ability to produce at 262% better than it was as recently as 1950. This has been achieved with 2% fewer inputs than before where inputs are things like labor, seeds, feed and fertilizer.
To that end it is clear the agribusiness has come a long way from where it started in the 18th century. At that time it was driven by Oxen and horses for power, crude wooden plows and lots of work done by hand to sow seeds and cultivate crops.
If we fast forward through the many innovations, triggered by the industrial revolution (iron ploughs, cotton gin, tractors etc), we eventually arrive to the point where information technology started to be used extensively in the in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s quickly followed by the use of satellites to plan work in the late 1990’s.
To the outside the agribusiness looks like a slow moving industry when it fact it is clear to those closer that it is moving at an astonishing pace!
Why is this an industry that has to move quickly?
One of the major reasons is the need to do more with less. This is perhaps something people think they see acutely in other industries. In my opinion there very few industries face the impending challenges of the agribusiness industry.
They must overcome increasing water shortages, limited availability of lands, difficulty in managing costs and they need to help with a growing need to protect the environment.
(Reference: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).
If the agribusiness industry does not innovate then our populations will not have food to feed them. For me this is one place where the pending modernization truly will have a critical impact on humanity.
Welcome to the Internet of Things (IoT) in the Agribusiness Industry
To meet this demand agribusinesses have turned to the Internet of Things together with Analytics. They are using IoT and Analytics to increase the quality, quantity, sustainability and cost effectiveness of producing and harvesting crops as examples.
How much is IoT and data being used you might ask? If you look at a BI Intelligence estimate (OnFarm, BI Intelligence Estimates, 2015) they predict that IoT device installations in the agriculture world will increase from 30 million in 2015 to 75 million in 2020.
Today the US currently is the leading user of IoT smart agriculture. This leadership, through the use of technology, allows them to produce 7340 kgs of cereal (e.g. wheat, rice, maize, barley, etc.) per 2.5 acres of farmland compared to the global average of 3,851 kgs.
The data evolution is underway and it suggests that the average farm will generate an average of 4.1 million data points per day in 2050, up from 190,000 in 2014. Farming is increasingly a data driven activity!
What will all this new data and modern approaches bring to the table? Well, in that same OnFarm study, they discovered that the average farm yield rose by 1.75%, energy costs dropped $7 to $13 per acre, and water use for irrigation fell by 8% due to technology. It is therefore understandable that the agribusiness must adopt IoT and use data to make smarter decisions.
So with that background I was delighted to recently host a webinar with DunavNet. DunavNet has a long history in this space and has developed a suite of products to tackle problems. Their solutions span from when to irrigate using in-soil sensors and weather predictions, how to detect insect and rodents using sensors and imaging and solutions to efficiently track assets.
Today DunavNet utilizes Microsoft IoT capabilities to allow you to take advantage of the Internet of Your Things and to bring new ideas for how you can transform your agribusiness. You can read a blog post covering them in more details here and you can click the image below to view the webinar we recorded on demand.
Although I work for Microsoft these thoughts are 100% my own & may not reflect the views of my employer.