May 11, 2023
Improving Farm Productivity: The Impact of Technology
Agriculture has come a long way from the days of traditional farming methods. Thanks to the advancement in technology, farmers can now use tools that were once considered highly technical.
From drones that map fields and monitor crop growth to data-driven smart irrigation systems, technology gives farmers tools to optimise crop yields and increase efficiency.
But the impact of technology in agriculture goes beyond improving crop production only. It has also enabled farmers to address challenges such as access to finance, climate change and labour shortages, resulting in better working conditions and safer farming practices.
“Agriculture is quite scattered. But technology has transformed the way we collect and process data by streamlining the data collection process and increasing data accuracy. Previously, data collection was dependent on human agents who would physically visit farmers and collect data on paper. This method was highly susceptible to errors and inconsistencies, as the data quality was dependent on the quality of the agent,” Product Manager, ThriveAgric, Daniel Olorunfemi, explains.
Whether you're a small-scale farmer or a large agribusiness owner, this article will help you understand how you can leverage these tech advancements to increase productivity and profitability.
In this piece, you will learn:
- What agricultural technology is
- 3 ways technology improves Agriculture
- 3 ways you can leverage Agritech to improve farm productivity
What is Agricultural Technology (Agritech)?
Agricultural technology is the application of scientific and technological principles to agriculture. It includes tools, equipment, and techniques that are designed to improve crop yields, reduce labor costs, increase efficiency, and conserve resources.
As the demand for sustainable and efficient farming practices continues to grow, technology has become a vital component of the industry. A good example of an Agritech that does this well is ThriveAgric. Through our proprietary software, the Agricultural Operating System (AOS), we've been able to grow our network of farmers from 500 to over 500,000 and impact over 2,600 communities in five years only.
Also, with over 2,000 field-extension agents using the AOS, we've been able to capture important farmer data. Thus, the information provided through the data is customised to the specific needs of each farmer.
As Agritech grows, it's becoming increasingly clear that technology is the key to unlocking new opportunities and addressing longstanding challenges in agriculture.
Let's take a closer look at three ways technology is making a difference in the sector.
3 Ways Technology Improves Agriculture
Technology has opened up new opportunities for investment banks, financial institutions and even government agencies to contribute to innovative solutions that address the challenges faced by farmers.
Below are three ways different sectors leverage technology to improve agriculture:
1. Enhanced Safety for Farmers
According to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), much agricultural work is, by its nature, physically demanding.
However, technology is playing a crucial role in mitigating these risks and maintaining safe working conditions on the farm.
This means that by reducing the need for manual labor and automating dangerous tasks, such as using heavy machinery, it significantly reduces the risk of accidents and injuries for you.
Additionally, by using precision agriculture techniques like targeted pesticide application, technology also reduces the use of harmful chemicals, further enhancing safety on the farm.
2. Rapid Growth
Rapid population growth has led to a significant increase in the demand for food. Fortunately, the agricultural industry has stepped up to the plate as well, leveraging technology to meet this challenge.
ThriveAgric is a leading example of this trend, utilizing management software such as Tradr to connect smallholder farmers to premium markets and off-takers more efficiently.
Tradr is a tool that enables you to sell your harvest at fair prices, access high-quality agro inputs, and stay up-to-date with real-time market prices. It's a one-stop-shop that bridges the gap between farmers and potential buyers.
“Tradr is a digital agricultural market. It's like an e-commerce. The marketplace that connects all the players in the agricultural value chain. And it works in two ways: Every agent in a particular local government can see the available inputs in their local government. Trader also helps agribusinesses like ThriveAgric and FMCGs connect with farmers directly to buy their produce. So, it eliminates middlemen,’ Olorunfemi says.
3. Improved Quality of Produce
In the past, farmers had limited means of ensuring the quality of their produce. However, with advancements in technology such as the precision technology which ThriveAgric adopts in the AOS, it's now possible to produce high-quality crops consistently through utilizing precision irrigation systems, drone technology, and real-time soil monitoring sensors. These tools make it easier to improve plant health, and detect any issues before they become major problems.
Now let's delve into three types of agricultural technology that can help improve farm productivity.
3 ways you can leverage tech to improve farm productivity
Here are a few technological innovations to incorporate on your farm:
1. Precision Technology
Precision technology refers to the use of advanced farm data analysis and management tools to optimize crop production by precisely targeting specific areas of the field.
Think about it like a farmer's hawk-eye, providing a clear and detailed view of every aspect of the farm. Just as a hawk's sharp vision allows it to spot prey from afar, precision technology enables farmers to spot potential problems with their fields and soil chemistry before setting out.
Farm mapping is an integral aspect of precision agriculture, as it allows you to create accurate maps of your field and monitor crop growth more effectively. This then guides you to make informed decisions about when and how much to irrigate, fertilize, and apply crop protection products.
ThriveAgric’s farm mapping technology identifies the coordinates and measures the size of each farmland as well as inspect viability, particularly features like soil texture, slope & proximity to water. This approach is unique as the AOS is built with an offline feature that allows for a seamless run of activities even in communities with no internet facilities.
2. Farm Management Software
Farm management software is designed to help you manage your farm operations more efficiently. They typically include a range of tools and features that can help you with tasks such as crop planning, record keeping, and financial management.
It's like having a virtual assistant that keeps track of all the important details, from when to plant crops to how much fertilizer to apply.
ThriveAgric's AOS is a farm management software that is designed to help smallholder farmers in Africa optimize their operations and improve their yields. The software includes a range of tools and features that can help farmers manage their farms more efficiently, including farmer onboarding, input distribution, field monitoring, harvest monitoring, and inventory management.
- One of the unique features of the AOS is its farmer onboarding tool, which helps agribusinesses onboard farmers, perform first-level credit checks, and create banking identities for them.
This enables the grouping of farmers into clusters based on their communities. This way, essential data such as their name, location, gender, and facial recognition are collected, which are essential for credit assessment and also helps to ensure that farmers receive the right support and resources for their specific needs.
- Input distribution is another aspect that is facilitated by the AOS. Here, loans are disbursed to smallholder farmers in the form of improved seeds, fertilisers, and crop protection products, based on farm mapping data and creditworthiness.
This feature ensures that farmers have access to the necessary resources to produce high-quality crops, ultimately leading to higher yields and more profitable farming operations.
- The AOS also includes farm monitoring, which assigns field officers to sets of farmer clusters to give tailored advice, ensure adherence to data-driven best practices, and track progress until harvest.
By providing farmers with expert advice and guidance, the technology helps to ensure that farmers are able to make informed decisions and optimize their farming practices for maximum efficiency and sustainability
- Harvest monitoring is another aspect captured on the AOS and it helps to distribute required materials for harvest collection, receive, document and process farmer commodities for storage and digital payment.
This enables agribusinesses streamline the harvest process, ensuring that farmers are able to efficiently collect and store their crops and receive prompt payment for their hard work.
- Finally, the AOS includes inventory management, which captures all off-taking and inventory activities on all available commodities post-harvest. This is quite essential in the entire farming process as post harvest losses are minimised to a great degree due to adequate tracking of their inventory in modern storage systems provided.
3. Climate-Smart Technology
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Nigeria is one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In 2022 only, flood destroyed many farmlands, accounting for millions of naira in loss.
Climate-smart technology is the solution to these challenges. It involves several practices that can help improve agricultural productivity in the face of climate change. Some of them include:
- Irrigation systems :
It's no secret that water is a precious resource in farming, especially during droughts. Irrigation systems therefore are various methods used to deliver water to crops.
Think of it as a lifeline for crops, providing them with the essential water they need to survive and thrive. Irrigation is also a form of precision technology but its goal is to provide crops with the right amount of water at the right time, ensuring growth and yield.
With the advent of technology, irrigation canals are becoming more common. They involve channels developed solely for flood control and other drainage solutions.
- Growing drought-resistant crops:
Another practice to combat drought is to grow crops that are resistant.to it. A classic example is a staple crop like maize.
Drought-resistant crops can also be combined with conservation agriculture such as no-till farming and intercropping. These practices help improve soil moisture retention and reduce soil erosion.
- Working with a climate-smart organization
As a farmer, it is important to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of extreme weather conditions on your farm. But you may not be able to predict them, which is why you should collaborate with key players in the ecosystem that deploy climate-smart practices in their operations.
With ThriveAgric, you get weather forecasting and early warning systems. We provide our smallholder farmers with weather information, alerts and advisory services. They also receive customized weather information for their specific location, as well as advice on planting, irrigation, and crop management.
To truly maximise the benefits of technology, it's important to partner with an Agritech company that has the resources and expertise to help you overcome the challenges of modern agriculture and grow your business..
That's where our Agricultural Operating System comes in. This innovation will help you streamline your operations and achieve greater transparency to raise funds more effectively for your agribusiness.
Join other successful agribusinesses who have benefited from our platform by creating your free account now.
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