The technological revolution has brought great changes to our lives – and agriculture is no exception. Today, it’s increasingly common to see sensors or drones as essential tools in the agronomical engineer or farmer’s toolkit.
The number of startups around the world that have created tech products with the purpose of making agriculture more efficient, precise and productive have increased exponentially since 2013. The values of investment in the sector have increased significantly as well.
This movement has a name – agriculture technology, or AgTech.
Saving the world with more efficient agriculture
2014 was the year that saw AgTech truly take off, with 2.36 billion dollars invested across 264 deals, according to AgFunder. Amongst some of the most notable AgTech investors are companies like Google Ventures, Microsoft, and Bayer.
Several global trends allowed or precipitated the emergence and popularity of agriculture technology, according to Deloitte: a growing world population – the UN predicts that in 2050 it will reach 9.73 billion; technological innovations (from connected devices to autonomous vehicles); the demand for more sustainable practices from consumers; among other factors.
The demographic issue is particularly relevant. The major increase in global population means that by 2050 agriculture will have to produce almost 50% more than what it produced in 2012 to feed everyone, according to FAO.
That’s why specialists and companies agree: making agricultural productions more efficient, making more with less, is urgent.
From apps to robots
AgTech companies can be grouped into different segments. Each of them aims to solve specific problems within the larger problem of agriculture productivity. According to AgFunder, these are the key areas:
Farm management software, sensors, and IoT
Farm management and monitoring apps that seek to diminish water expenditure or prevent the effects of plagues and diseases, sensors that supply real-time data about crops and the connectivity between the devices and the software, originating data that helps decision-making, belong to this segment of AgTech.
This is where vertical farming, hydroponics, aquaponics, and smart indoor farms – the most recent players in AgTech – fit in.
Robotics and automatization
Drones, robots and other agriculture automatization technologies make up another segment within AgTech. Drones with hyperspectral cameras, for instance, can capture images of crops that work like health maps, displaying problem areas. As for robotics, several companies have developed innovative solutions: robots that can fertilize crops, prune grapevines or weed invasive plants.
Bioenergy and biomaterials
In this area, the highlight goes to biologically produced agrochemicals, bioplastics, bioenergy and bioengineering based on microbes that can make plants more resistant.
Food technology and innovative foods
Since it takes about 17.5 pounds of grain to produce 2 pounds of meat, several companies are creating plant-based replacements for animal protein – sustainable protein.
It’s official: AgTech is here to stay. Get to know Agroop’s technology for more efficient crop farming.