Experts predict that the power of big data solutions could generate £6.64 billion in additional crop output annually in the near future. This is according to a report from Rabobank which indicates that by harnessing the power of modern IT solutions, yield increases will be significant, and the impact will be felt around the globe.
Analysts argue that in order for these growth forecasts to be achieved, the agricultural industry will need to make some adjustments and accept the increased influence of cloud-based big data platforms. And it refers to this as being the process of moving away from an intuitive approach to farming towards a time when facts are the driving force behind decision-making.
Report spokesperson Harry Smit said that in some circles this is being referred to as ‘smart farming’ because it requires the deployment of new machinery and sensors which can gather large amounts of information, monitor crops comprehensively and optimise the ways in which fields are managed based both on real-time and historical data.
Ultimately, the use of big data will mean that every square metre of land will be farmed in a way that maximises its potential, from seeding and fertilisation to cultivation and harvesting. And as more and more farmers embrace this approach, there will be more data available to make decisions about how and when to act more accurate, even paving the way for increased automation as guesswork is eliminated from the equation.
FG Insight points out that the recent unveiling of the UK’s own agriculture-oriented centre for research based in Hertfordshire, which is harnessing big data tools to fuel the development of new products and techniques, is an indication of how important IT is becoming in an industry which has traditionally been based on more intuitive practices.
That does not mean that smaller agricultural organisations will be excluded from the uptake of new technologies and machinery built to gather data, but rather that there will be the competitive incentive to embrace this brave new world of big data or face being pushed to one side by more enterprising competitors, according to the report’s authors.
In the long run, this may mean that those which cannot keep pace with the bigger farming operations will need to either expand themselves or else be absorbed by another organisation in order to survive. The great rewards promised by the predictions of the report undoubtedly come with their own risks and limitations, but the global market will hopefully benefit from the changes that big data will bring.