With the global population spiraling upwards, projected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) has tasked farmers to increase food production by 70 percent to feed the world’s mushrooming population.
Big agriculture is responding to higher food demands by leaning on innovative thinking and new techniques to push up their production capabilities. Technology innovations are flooding into the market, and major players like Monsanto expect a boom in agricultural data science, as the market value reaches $20 billion by 2020.
Cultivating Crops with Digital Farming
To manage the coming swell, robots that harvest crops and digital farming are joining green revolution and time-held traditional farming techniques. Digital farming is garnering lots of interest as it harvests the abundant details and layers of processes that make up the planting and harvesting cycles.
SAP built a digital farm app, built on SAP HANA Cloud Platform that combines telematics, geospatial analysis, analytics and business networks collaboration to give farmers a geo-based overview of their entire business. When famers login to their laptops, PCs, tablets or mobile phone, they see an aerial image of their farms. The app leverages SAP HANA’s GeoFence technology to analyze and process geospatial information.
Farmers can take a virtual walk-though of any sector and understand exactly what is happening with their crop. Does it need water or fertilizer? Is the contractor scheduled to plant seeds? Are the seeds ordered and on their way? Sensors in the soil measure moisture, pH, and more to show farmers the state of their soil. A crop history shows past planting schedules and harvests. For better planning, a list of scheduled and unscheduled tasks display irrigation, fertilization, planting, spraying, and harvesting timelines. Farmers can schedule these tasks and assign a contractor to complete them.
Farmers interact with dozens of contractors and subcontractors throughout the planting seasons. SAP uses Fieldglass to find and send contractors onto the field at exactly the right moment, based on analyzing the farm data. When a crop needs irrigating, for example, the farmer first tests the land’s moisture. The sensors can tell him the exact percentage of moisture in the land at 6 am, 1 pm and 5 pm. He can look at records from last year at this same time, and then run a quick analysis to see what the moisture should be three days, two days and one day before planting the crop of rye. If rain is in the forecast, the farmer can cancel the contractor and avoid an unnecessary expense.
Growing Crops with Collaboration
While conventional wisdom leads us to think that Big Data, analytics, and the Internet of Things are made for those who live in urban areas, these technologies cut to the heart of traditional—and new—businesses that have layered processes and multiple people working together for the same outcome. They align perfectly in developed countries where consumers purchase groceries from a mobile app and drones monitor grape crops, and they promise efficiencies and broader access to food supplies in economically disadvantaged regions.