internet connection over field

The role of industry 4.0 in agriculture

Industry 4.0 is essentially the industrial revolution of the 21st century. New technologies such as cloud computing and analytics, AI, IoT, and other advanced tools are being used to increase automation, boost productivity, cut costs, and streamline operations. In addition, sensors on the factory floor are utilized for real-time visibility of the manufacturing stages, enabling predictive maintenance and decreased downtime. 

Agriculture in the era of industry 4.0

Modern-day agriculture faces multiple challenges such as reduced resources, increasing demand, and rising costs. According to a report published by FAO, the world was already off track to meet Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even harder to achieve these set goals and to monitor actual progress.

For several decades, farmers have been seeking improved methods to increase productivity, prevent waste and reduce environmental impact. Following intensive research and testing, it became clear that the same tools used to optimize manufacturing can be applied in agriculture to boost growth and ensure sustainability. 

Agriculture has been significantly impacted by Industry 4.0. In fact, Industry 4.0 and agriculture are closely intertwined. We are currently witnessing the adoption of advanced Industry 4.0 applications in agriculture, leading to a new concept – Agriculture a farming management system that applies new technologies and gleans applicable data to increase production and boost efficiency. 

The technology driving agriculture 4.0

Using cutting-edge tools and automated management systems, farmers can monitor crops, tweak planting, and cut production costs, offering advanced technologies that help the farmer drill down and understand the number of resources (such as irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticides) required in each area of the farm. In order to understand the impact of Industry 4.0 in agriculture, let’s examine what Industry 4.0 applications are used in agriculture. 

  • Artificial intelligence – Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the industry enables machines to accumulate data, assess situations, and offer real-time insights. On the farm, AI helps to improve harvest quality, detect diseases and pests in plants, and determine what herbicide should be used in every region at any given time. It also enables innovative farming practices like vertical agriculture which is a technologically advanced farming system that maximizes resources and increases food production in a smaller area than traditional row crops. 
  • Drones – In many industries, drones are used for surveillance, mapping, traffic control, surveying, and even delivery. On farms, there is a lot of ground to cover, but thanks to drones, many jobs no longer need to be performed manually. With applications borrowed from Industry 4.0 in agriculture, drones are able to provide useful data regarding soil conditions, disease, plant maturity, and more, often in real-time. Current data captured by drones can be compared to historical data to improve the decision-making process.
  • Sensors – Sensors are basically your extended range of sight and data collection for what is happening both above and below ground. Sensors can detect when crops need irrigation, determine if more downforce is required, and instruct what chemicals should be applied and where. Their ability to measure wind speed, spray pressure and flow, terrain changes, and more, provide the farmer with a precise picture of each and every corner of his farm. Farmers acquire the ability to monitor in-field variability and make informed decisions accordingly.
  • IoT – IoT refers to a group of connected devices (such as sensors, probes, drones, and more) as well as software, networks, and other technologies. These elements communicate with an internet network to receive and transmit data. The use of IoT in Agriculture 4.0 enables field management systems to connect data gleaned in real-time from GPS-equipped drones, satellites, sensors, and other advanced tools. Systems based on IoT can automatically adapt to weather changes and plan irrigation accordingly.   
  • Big data – The ability to collect and analyze big data has played a revolutionary role in almost every field. Agriculture is no exception. The key is turning that vast amount of big data into actionable data that can be gleaned from advanced analytics systems to assist farmers in making more informed decisions. Due to the fact that datasets may originate from different sources, it is key for data to be properly ingested, cleansed, and harmonized using AI and advanced analytics to obtain the insights for practical solutions to a farmer’s specific challenges.   
  • Automation – Automation in agriculture has significantly increased production and reduced the costs of manual labor. According to Forbes, labor costs can range from 25% to 75% of a crop’s value. The use of advanced technologies to upgrade and automate previously manual processes in farming is known as farm automation. This technique decreases man-hours and time-intensive processes of agriculture that have always served as a huge challenge to farmers around the world. Robotic technology can plant seeds, monitor and analyze the condition of crops, and even harvest crops.
illustration of industry 4.0

The benefits of agriculture 4.0

In the past farmers lacked the data-driven insights to combat dwindling resources, pests, and changing weather conditions, thanks to agriculture 4.0 this isn’t the case anymore with the unique benefits it brings to farmers

  • Increased productivity, healthier crops, and higher yields – A farmer’s ability to monitor and analyze crops in real-time leads to data-driven decision making with informed conclusions. The precise knowledge and understanding of when and where to use irrigation, fertilizers, and herbicides lead to healthier crops and higher yields.
  • Better cost management – Actionable data provides better control over expenditure and costs. It can, for example, enable a farmer to plan all the stages of cultivation, sowing, and harvesting as well as fertilization and irrigation needs far more precisely with data-driven analysis, which not only increases productivity but also cuts costs and saves on labor. 
  • Smaller carbon footprint  – The CGIAR notes that reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint is central to limiting climate change. Prior to precision agriculture, much of the fertilizer used in farms ran off into waterways or was broken down by microbes in the soil, releasing potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. Using the newest technologies for precise application and understanding the amount of fertilizer needed in each location reduces our carbon footprint. Efficiencies gained in autonomous operations and equipment also reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to power these items. Using the newest fertilization technologies for precise application and understanding the amount of fertilizer needed in each location reduces our carbon footprint. Efficiencies gained in autonomous operations and equipment also reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to power these items. When it comes to modern-day farming and protecting our vital resources, every action can be evaluated based on informative data on both profitability and efficiency. 

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Agmatix and industry 4.0

Agmatix is an agroinformatics company that develops innovative data-driven solutions for agriculture professionals worldwide. Our platform standardizes agronomic data and provides a comprehensive agronomic research and field trials platform with statistical analysis at your fingertips. Our proprietary software-as-a-service offerings provide the standardization of agronomic data and generate ML-based agronomic predictive models for data-driven decisions.
Our solutions optimize agricultural data management, enabling you to increase yield, improve crop management, boost productivity, and operate more sustainably. Even more important is the fact that our smart solution offers a user-friendly, yet intuitive dashboard that provides you with all the information you need in real-time to make the right decisions.