How is big data analytics disrupting the agriculture industry?

From the ability to make accurate crop predictions to using drone technology to monitor the farm, big data is truly revolutionizing the agriculture industry.
21 September 2018

Big data is enabling the agriculture industry to become smarter and more efficient. Source: Shutterstock

In 1838, John Deere introduced the revolutionary plow to the agriculture industry which changed the life of many. In the early 1900’s the combine harvester transformed farm work. Fast-forward to today, and it seems that the big disrupter in the industry is big data analytics.

Making accurate crop predictions

Sitting and waiting around to see how crops turn out has long been a pain point for farmers. The Native Americans relied on performing the rain dance to welcome the rain to help crops grow and produce a bountiful harvest. But perhaps a more sound method is to leverage big data to make accurate predictions.

Today’s farmers can predict crop yields with profound accuracy- before even planting a single seed.

By leveraging sophisticated computer algorithms which analyze years of weather and crop data, farmers can gain insights into analytics which predicts the optimum times to plant and harvest their crops. As a result, farmers can maximize crop yields while minimizing stress.

Helping to address world hunger

Last year, the UN announced that 20 million of the world’s population are at risk of starvation in the largest crisis since 1945. A combination of rising temperatures and increasing global populations has resulted in a massive famine in Africa.

Many humanitarian groups across the world have made profound efforts to help in any way they can, but perhaps one of the most valuable solutions lies in big data.

Big data has helped scientists develop potential solutions to world hunger. Source: Shutterstock

For many years agricultural scientists have been analyzing plant data with hopes of developing durable crops that can grow in any environment.

Now chemically engineered seeds have been designed using big data, showing striking results. These plants were shown to grow much larger and produce more yield than control plants in the same conditions.

However, while this provides a strong solution to world hunger, there has been much debate around genetically modified organisms (GMOs), with many fearing a threat to human health.

Automated agriculture

Drones, farm-bots, and intelligent sprinklers and more automated farming tools are all reality today due to big data analytics and advances in technology and the internet.

Many farmers everywhere are using drones fitted with advanced sensors to monitor crops, update their data, and notify them of areas that need improvement.

Fleets of robots are roaming many farms in the US, planting kernels of corn in optimum spots and picking weeds that threaten to spoil the main crop.

As technology continues to progress we should expect to see even more advancements in automated farming. Big data is truly paving the way for smarter agriculture.