- Technology and innovation are the prime drivers of the 21st century.
- Technology plays a key role in developing the farming industry and improving agri-business.
- In the decades ahead, agricultural innovations will become more and more computerized.
We all crave for better, faster and more cost-effective ways of doing business. Luckily for us, modern technology has nearly all the answers.
Technology and Innovation are rapidly transforming almost every aspect of modern life and the Agric industry isn’t left out. With cutting-edge technology, farm produce can get to the consumer faster, fresher and at a much lesser cost.
Technology has played a vital role in developing the farming industry and improving agri-business in many diverse ways.
Farmers together with scientists have used plant breeding and selection techniques to improve crop yield. Technology is also used to track weather patterns, monitor soil and water conditions as well as in detecting and protecting plants against diseases.
Year on year, venture capitalists are investing hugely in Agric-tech as the demand for innovative farm technology is on the fast rise.
Here, I have listed 10 lucrative agri-business tech opportunities for Techpreneurs looking to venture into the agricultural industry.
1. Satellite/ Drone Imaging
Remote satellite imaging has grown in sophistication that it can now be used for real-time crop imagery. In the developed world, this is already being applied. This isn’t just birds-eye-view snapshots but images in resolutions of 5-meter-pixels and even greater. With Crop imagery, a farmer can examine crops from a screen as if he or she were standing right there in the field. Reviewing images weekly can save a farm a considerable amount of time and money.
Additionally, this technology can be integrated with the crop, soil and water sensors so that the farmers can receive notifications along with appropriate satellite images when danger thresholds are met.
Drones can also be deployed for activities like spraying pesticides on crops, monitoring farmlands from the air so that patterns like irrigation problems, soil variation and pest and fungal infestations that aren’t apparent at eye level can be revealed.
2. Digital Information Center for Farmers and Agripreneurs
Farmers and agripreneurs are looking for information all the time. They want to know where to get the best seeds, where to buy the best feed ingredients and so much more. Yes, Google is a dependable source of vital information, however, searching the internet using search engines can be frustrating as it pops up a lot of irrelevant search results.
There is a need for farmers and other agripreneurs to have a dedicated information center where all their farming and agribusiness queries can be answered.
3. Data Analytics
You must have heard the statement data is the new gold, in agriculture, its no different. Farmers have to contend with and analyze a lot of data and information as part of their job. They have to make accurate decisions after analyzing a lot of variables like rainfall conditions, underground water concentration, temperature, harvest yields, commodity prices, etc.
An analytics software or app that can ease decision making and present data variables in an easy-to-understand format for farming would be of great help to farmers because modern farmers now see data as an integral part of farming.
4. Agricultural Actuary Services
Like any other business, Agriculture is a risky undertaking. No matter the farmer’s level of expertise, there is still a lot of uncertainty that hovers around. Factors such as extreme weather, diseases, natural disasters, market, and environmental shocks are risks that can only be mitigated. Knowing how to analyze the risks involved in farming and coming up with innovative agricultural insurance products and solutions to mitigate and buffer these risks will be a good agribusiness idea to consider.
An actuary is a business professional who deals with the measurement and management of risk and uncertainty. The name of the corresponding field is actuarial science.
5. Alternative Power for Farms
A regular supply of power is a big challenge for farmers in Nigeria. Many farm operations require the use of electricity which isn’t always available. An inverter system or rechargeable power battery bank specifically designed to power dedicated farming operations like pumping water, illuminating the animal pen, etc. would be a very good product/ agribusiness idea.
6. Soil and Water Sensors
Soil moisture sensors typically refer to sensors that estimate volumetric water content. Another class of sensors measure another property of moisture in soils called water potential; these sensors are usually referred to as soil water potential sensors and include tensiometers and gypsum blocks.
These sensors are durable, unobtrusive and relatively inexpensive and they come with enormous cost-saving benefits. For instance, soil and water sensors can detect moisture and nitrogen levels, and farmers can use this information to determine when to water and fertilize rather than rely on a predetermined schedule.
The use of soil sensors would obviously result in more efficient use of resources and therefore lowered costs. Also, sensors can help in water conservation, erosion control, and in reducing the fertilizer levels in local rivers and lakes thereby protecting the environment.
Fortunately in Nigeria, there are quite a few agri-tech companies that specialize in this kind of service.
7. Weather Tracking
Local meteorologists may be fun to make jokes about, but the fact remains that computerized weather forecasting is becoming even more sophisticated. There is a need for more online weather services that are focused exclusively on agriculture, and farmers can access these services through specialized on-board and handheld farm technology but also mobile apps running on just about any user device. This technology can give farmers sufficiently advanced notice of extreme environmental conditions so that they can take precautions to protect the crops or at least significantly mitigate losses.
8. RFID Technology
The above-mentioned soil and water sensors have laid a foundation for traceability. The industry has only started to realize this infrastructure but it seems to be getting better by the day. Such sensors provide knowledge that can be related to yields from farming. It may seem like science fiction, but we’re living in a world where a bag of potatoes can have a barcode that you can scan with your smartphone to gain access to soil information that produced it. It is not far-fetched to have a future in which farms can market themselves and have loyal customers monitoring their purchasing yields.
9. Processes Automation
In the agricultural technology industry, widespread automation is fast becoming a popular word, and it can refer to any technology that decreases the workload of operators. Examples include autonomous robotic or remote-controlled vehicles via terminals and hyper-precision systems, such as RTK navigation systems, which make seeding and fertilization routes as efficient as possible. Some farming equipment already adopts the ISOBUS model, and that puts the precipice of a farming reality where balers, combines, tractors, and other farming equipment interact and even work in a plug-and-play manner.
Other processes that occur in the farms such as manual feeding, irrigation, and manual drinkers, etc can also be automated by robots to improve farm productivity and profitability