Technology continues to play a prominent role in global agricultural development as it advances the sector into new territory.

Dawie Maree, head of information and marketing at FNB Agriculture, says innovation in agricultural technology is progressing at an unprecedented pace, leaving farmers with no choice but to adapt and re-invent themselves to stay competitive and grow, or sustain, their businesses.

“The global agricultural industry is successfully overcoming some of its prominent environmental and food production challenges by usig new and advanced technologies, and South Africa is no exception to this,” says Maree.

His key tech trends in agriculture this year are:

  • Big data – the sector increasingly uses data analytics to improve operational efficiency. Farmers can now handle complex systems that help with equipment management. This is in combination with data on weather patterns, soil conditions and crops, to determine the best time and place to plant and harvest. Big data is useful in forecasting crop demand and yield, as well as potential land size and use.
  • Drip irrigation – given the recent drought which cost South African farmers billions of rand in losses, there is a lot of investment in the development of advanced drip irrigation technology which cuts water wastage.
  • Vertical farming – a modern form of farming that saves on water and fertiliser by stacking production layers in small, controlled environments. There are already South African farmers successfully using this technology as part of their farming practice.
  • Mobile apps – Farmers actively use apps to monitor their crops via GPS, to calculate feed rations, save water, control systems, access networks and markets and more.

Maree says mobile apps are a major disruptor in the agricultural industry. Developers are working hard to introduce app innovations that allow farmers to access information on a scale, and at levels, once unimaginable. There are apps that can identify 430 weed species and list their characteristics, at the click of a button.

“Farmers should regularly research and educate themselves on new technological developments in the industry to avoid being left behind. Those who delay, do so at their peril,” says Maree. – Press release