The agricultural industry too has been impacted positively by the advent of big data. Big data brings several advantages....

Importance of big data in the agriculture industry

Big data has transformed our world.

The agricultural industry too has been impacted positively by the advent of big data.

Big data brings several advantages and competencies to agriculture. It allows for real-time data collection and physical tracking of activities on a farm. Using the analysis that emerges from such data, farmers can predict, with precision, the situations that they are likely to encounter. This enables informed decision-making.

Agriculture is one of the oldest human activities. It is perhaps as old as civilization itself. Yet the use and analysis of big data in this field is transforming it at a great speed. Also, without doubt, where entire sets of population have to only depend on agriculture, big data is offering progressive, constructive, solutions that are truly transformational.

How impactful is the transformation

The global population is expected to touch 9.9 billion by 2050. This growth is expected to increase the dependence on agriculture. There is bound to be a higher demand and pressure on the sector to produce more in order to feed more mouths. Industry experts are embracing big data to make practices in the agricultural industry more efficient, more precise, more productive and more profitable.

Big data is enabling agriculture as a sector to be agile and sharp. Analyzing the data that is collected leads to useful information being drawn from the patterns and insights available. This information assists farmers to assess and correct inefficiencies in their farming methods. It can also predict weather conditions; this helps farmers take important decisions on crop health that save them time and money. Further, it can formulate algorithms that can detect a problem that may occur in the future. This way, the farmer is alerted in advance and can take immediate, corrective action.

The key reasons why big data is important in agriculture

  • Improves productivity and makes farms efficient: Crop production forecasting techniques are improved by big data. This, in turn, improves crop yields. Also, like with any other industry, agriculture too is susceptible to price fluctuations in the market. Big data analysis helps farmers constantly tweak their operating costs to adapt to these fluctuations. This helps with managing costs in real time and improves profitability.
  • Reduces food wastage globally: Research indicates that supply chain gaps annually contribute to a 30 % loss of food globally. Big data helps immensely by tracking stores and supply chains worldwide; it helps flag the loopholes that need to be immediately plugged. It also helps with predicting customer demand so that inventories can be better managed; this again helps cut food wastage.
  • Democratizes data sharing: A boom in agritech has led to a universal information system being developed for agriculture. This has led to fixing huge information data gaps in the sector. Resultantly, data is now being shared between users in the industry in a free and seamless manner. This has led to best practices being employed across the industry. This makes farmers more innovative and their farms more profitable. More sharing means more transparency and more enhanced efficiencies in the industry.
  • Optimizes the use of farm equipment: Sensors have reduced the dependence of human presence on farms. These sensors also enable farm equipment to share data such as fuel levels, pesticide levels, idle time of tractors and service schedule reminders with cloud servers. So farmers can manage their farms from remote locations. Importantly, the data-enabled decisions taken by them are in real time and have a huge impact on driving up profit margins. For instance, big data analysis help monitor pesticide usage. Farmers who use this analysis have reported big cost savings and improved crop and human health.  
  • Makes it easier to feed more mouths: As the world’s population grows, the demand for food is growing too. This means the yield per crop acre must go up. Big data analysis helps farmers with weather information, and with updates on soil health and fertilizer levels. This increases productivity and higher yield management. This makes farms become time and crop efficient.
  • Improves the supply chain’s efficiency: Big data helps track vehicles that are transporting agricultural produce. This real-time tracking makes deliveries bridge the supply-demand gaps efficiently. It also helps cut down food wastage that occurs due to transportation delays and transit loss.
  • Makes food safer: Big data enables farm systems to detect viruses, microbes and contamination early. This helps millions of people worldwide annually. Most of these people are prone to food-based ailments. Making food safer is a remarkable contribution by big data to make our world a better place.
  • Makes the sector more attractive: From the time that big data has come into play, the agriculture sector has become a hotbed for innovation and growth. Resultantly, quality talent is flocking to this industry. Importantly, also, labor on farms are choosing to stay on and are not migrating to other industries. 

The future looks bright

The farms of the future will thrive on the use of big data. They will have a cloud-based ecosystem. They will be equipped with tools and equipment that integrate data from different sources and offer real-time analysis that will enable precise decision-making. From climate to water to soil conditions to agronomy to supply chain to pest control to fertilizer use to weed and soil nutrient levels, every aspect of a farm’s operation will be data-driven. Apps that are cloud-based will help a farmer accurately estimate crop yields, even before planting a crop, based on forecastable parameters. This will make farmers the uber-smart CEOs of their farms. They will be sharp and focused. They will be harnessing their time and resources for higher profits.

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