Tech From Farm to Table

This article is based on a story originally published in It Is Innovation (i3) magazine, published by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®.

Overview The food and agriculture industry now relies on technologies such as artificial intelligence and IoT to make farming and city-life food production more efficient and accessible.

From precision agriculture to internet-connected indoor farms, technology is playing an increasing role in the food sector.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, the world of growing, processing and distributing food is a $1.7 trillion business in America.

Technology has helped and will help create more efficient processes, automate many manual and labor-intensive jobs, and improve harvests to meet food demands and growing expectations.

Tracking Leads to Better Yield

Internet of Things (IoT) technology using sensors helps farmers monitor temperature, humidity, irrigation, fertilization and more during the planting and growing process. IoT systems on industrial farms can track at least 30 different factors and assist farmers in maximizing output.

Managed remotely, the data from these IoT sensors can analyze weather, soil and water conditions and recommend what works best on any field. Farmers can then plant and fertilize different areas of the land at different rates to produce the best harvest.

Time-Sensitive Decision-Making

High connectivity and internet access have further decreased mechanical downtime, which can cause problems in planting and harvesting schedules. Machine learning paired with high-speed internet allows connected technology to work within narrow windows of optimal time to make sensitive decisions for farmers.

Having immediate access to information — and, therefore, trend projections — also provides farmers with the opportunity to perform preventative measures on their crops instead of waiting for problems to happen. Machine telematics data can proactively diagnose potential problems.

Lights, Water, Action

Away from row crops on large farms, technology is making urban and indoor farming a possibility. Smart cities efforts are leading to more office building gardens and vertical farms. Nourished by LED lights and hydroponics or aeroponics technology, these small urban farms allow easier access to fresh produce and help reduce food waste.

IoT software, machine learning and more come together to regulate the LED lights and nutrient distribution in these controlled environments.

At CES 2020, GE Appliances showed its “HomeGrown” concept, which demonstrated how three different gardening systems controlled through a user interface can exist in a small kitchen enclosure.

Read more about how technology is redefining farming and agriculture in i3 magazine.


The Internet of Edible Things

Whether it’s “precision agriculture” in rural fields or an aeroponic tower garden that takes up four square feet in an urban home, growing food now relies more on technology.

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