With the world’s population continuing to rise, developments in agriculture to maintain an adequate food supply are more important than ever. The problem of not having enough land, water, and farmers to continue to feed the world’s growing population must be answered boldly through technology and innovation. Farmers and scientists must work smarter, not harder, in order to meet the demand. In the meantime, there’s less and less land for farming as well as issues with irrigation. Those who are bent on keeping livelihood afloat turn to wireless technology.
The Economist recently featured farms in the California in the central valley area which are coping with the challenges of irrigation in a bold and innovative manner. Almond farmer Tom Rogers is one of countless nut growers who are tapping the latest developments in agriculture technology. Rogers grows almonds which require a lot of water to grow. According to the article, a single almond requires a gallon of water. Interestingly, the area accounts for more than 80% of the world’s almond supply. The industry is worth $11 billion annually, but water is also costly.
To remedy the situation, Rogers installed moisture sensors throughout the nut groves. This network sends collected data to a cloud and the farm’s irrigation system adjusts the amount of water and fertilizer that is drip-fed to the crops. The system allows Rogers to give the almonds the exact amount of water and nutrients they need.
This highly-advanced “smart farming” system consumes 20% less water than Rogers’ old system of irrigation. This is a significant amount when you take into consideration that California has been experiencing a drought for the last four years. Farmers growing similarly “thirsty” crops such as walnuts, grapes, and pistachios all stand to gain from this kind of technology. Moreover, row crops such as soya beans and maize are now sown, watered, fertilized and harvested with the use of computer-controlled systems.
However, this isn’t where agri-tech is stopping. As the demand for better grains, higher-yielding and drought-resistant crops grow exponentially, precise genetic manipulation or “genome editing” allows farmers to cultivate better crops and livestock.
While there’s some resistance to genetically enhanced or modified food, scientists see this as the only way to go. Further developing technology will increase and improve the world’s food supply and even help in solving centuries of famine and drought in particular regions.
This welcomes more bold ideas and actions such as dry farming, investment in agricultural genetics research, and even more daring ideas in the years to come.