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Is data the new soil in agri?

Screen Shot 2021-03-29 at 11.51.22 AM

Source: Lindi Botha, Farmer’s Weekly, 4 October 2020, photo credit: Galvanize

With today’s rapidly evolving digital technology, farmers have many options, but at a high cost. Discerning between the hype and the useful is therefore crucial to buying the right tools to increase profit. Digital and technology experts Rudie Raath and Stehan Cloete spoke to Lindi Botha.

One of the biggest shifts in farming over the past few years has been the move towards connectivity.

The connected farmer concept goes beyond basic Internet services; it takes in everything from connected farming devices and connected livestock, to connected irrigation platforms and precision-farming concepts.

This includes irrigation and pest-control planning based on satellite images, and in recent years, drone footage.

Rudie Raath, chief digital officer at Datacentrix, explains that the need for this innovation comes from the pressure to produce better-quality crops, use more cost-effective methods, and apply irrigation and chemicals with greater precision.

“We’re seeing innovative technologies such as drones fitted with forward-looking infrared FLIR [cameras and smart farming equipment], like the John Deere fleet of autonomous tractors, which are becoming commercially viable to mainstream farmers to augment their traditional farming methods.”

He notes that this technology disruption does not stop at the farm, but continues into the entire supply chain, from the soil to the water table.

“The agricultural supply chain has seen massive investment in connected technologies, including carefully planned transportation, with route calculations based on orders and current demand. Packaging, manufacturing and logistics solutions now focus on technology innovation that can reduce the time between harvesting and selling produce from retail outlets.”
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