The COVID-19 pandemic has had sweeping repercussions across the globe. Individuals and businesses have had to adapt to new norms to slow the spread of the virus. In particular, the agriculture industry has taken a big hit. The pandemic exposed the needs of workers in the field and the communities that rely on it.
Technology has the power to bridge these gaps during the pandemic. From production to monitoring to maintenance, tech can bring small farms to optimal levels. Due to the pandemic, the agriculture industry may lose up to $8 billion during 2020. For farms to recuperate from this loss, they must act soon – with tech.
Farms require countless hours of work. Whether it’s the necessities of dairy farms or a way to monitor crops, technology optimizes that work. Creating a path forward requires productive, cost-effective ag-tech.
Where to Integrate AgTech
Farms of all kinds need help now more than ever. With unemployment teetering down from an all-time high and the economy in a recession, the agriculture industry has faced the consequences. Smaller farms in rural areas especially may have impoverished communities or individuals relying on them. The first place to integrate ag-tech as a solution is through smartphones.
It’s critical for small farms all over the world to have access to the digital realm. It comes with information on weather, the stock market, the pandemic, consumer behavior and financial resources. Instant communication is also a must since the need for social distancing will be around for as long as the pandemic lasts.
Other COVID-19 related technology will be essential as well. Thermometers for taking temperatures will go a long way. Thermal imaging cameras can take that step farther, though, and detect body heat signatures automatically. Both methods help with social distancing and health protocols around the farm.
Other kinds of monitoring will be invaluable for plants and livestock health. Whether it’s using a drone’s camera to fly across acres in a few moments or sensors that track soil quality, monitoring is essential. If farmers see that certain plants are wilting, they can make the proper adjustments to keep them alive. The fix could be as simple as altering sunlight exposure.
The key to monitoring through ag-tech is that it speeds the process up significantly. On foot, these observations become tedious. Farmers should be allocating their time elsewhere, to ensure they keep up with supply and demand needs.
Last, predictive maintenance systems will be invaluable to small farms. These systems use sensors to gather and transmit data regarding the machinery on the farm. That way, farmers can replace parts before a system breaks down and they need to replace it. The cost savings will be worth it, especially during the pandemic.
Focus on E-Commerce
As the pandemic started, people turned to technology. Specifically, online shopping became the new norm. Going out to brick-and-mortar stores was a last resort – if the stores were open. Small businesses then had to get creative so big e-commerce companies wouldn’t overshadow their production.
For small farms, using e-commerce is a way to connect to the surrounding community. Online grocery, and food delivery services especially, soared during the pandemic. If farms can provide delivery services it would be a step in the right ag-tech direction. However, they can also use online shopping for pickups to create something like a pop-up storefront shop.
Working with ag-tech small companies is a solution, too. Startups like Sound Agriculture that’s creating a way for soil to produce more crop-growing compounds is only one example of the resources available. The produce, SOURCE, reduces the need for fertilizer expenses.
The tech is out there. It’s time to integrate it.
The Power of AgTech
Farms need resources during the pandemic. Supply chains, communities, restaurants and grocery stores are just a few examples of what relies on the agriculture industry. To efficiently do so, ag-tech is a game-changer. Integrating it can take small farms and solidify their place throughout the pandemic – and after.
Featured Image: https://www.fb.org/land/impact-covid19-on-ag