Agriculture Canada doesn’t mince words in its 2022 Strategic Plan for Science.
“With the climate crisis looming, research on incremental productivity gains will not protect the industry from the volatility of a changing environment. An effective response will require a paradigm shift.”
Translation: Big change is coming to Big Ag. And to small and medium size agriculture too.
In the past, Agriculture Canada scientists have focused on improving yields, addressing crop diseases, and improving livestock feed efficiency. These are not small things. But as we find ourselves with eight billion hungry humans on a planet in the midst of a climate crisis, new missions have emerged as well:
- Mitigating and adapting to climate change
- Increasing the resiliency of agro-ecosystems
- Advancing the circular economy by developing value-added opportunities
- Accelerating the digital transformation of agriculture and agri-food
What’s happening in Canada’s agriculture sector is being echoed all across the world as sustainable agriculture influences both policy makers and the future of the private sector.
To compete and achieve more sustainable production, agriculture companies need to get moving on digital transformation strategies today.
Digital transformation + sustainable agriculture help both the environment and your bottom line
At a high-level, companies that embrace digital transformation can align their organizations with what governments and consumers want — and what our planet needs. Which is obviously an advantage.
But at an operational level, productivity, efficiency, and profitability increasingly depend on digitalization. Farms of the future may eventually run with as much precision as a manufacturing plant does today.
Which is a definite benefit for producers.
For example, this Saskatchewan mixed crop farmer told CBC of a digital app that helps him to interpret air and soil temperatures, moisture levels and wind data:
“[It] has really made a difference in how we manage our crops, and it makes us more environmentally sustainable, because we’re not putting inputs in if we don’t need them.”
And tech-industry reporter Kara Swisher has noted that:
“I think the world’s first trillionaire will be a green-tech entrepreneur. There are many areas to explore, including battery storage, renewables, software, and artificial intelligence to help us understand climate data, the food ecosystem and even the way we construct our buildings.”
Essentially, sustainable agriculture is a deep well of opportunity that can help with everything from soil health, to reducing food waste, to killing weeds with lasers to reducing the damage done to crops by invasive species.
Not to be left out though, even traditional agriculture can benefit from increased automation, digitization, AI and other tech advancement.
For all agricultural companies, the path forward for growth is clear: invest in digital transformation today so you can identify the solutions that will enable your business to thrive in a world that’s rapidly changing.
What technologies should agriculture invest in?
So, let’s get into the weeds (we had to make one farming pun!) on the tech ag businesses might want to consider as part of their digital transformation strategy.
Here are some great options:
- Apps and/or software that optimize your operations can help reduce costs, limit emissions, and mitigate the seemingly endless risks in our messed up global supply chains
- In an age of regular labour shortages, automation software can help keep farms productive and reliably generate revenue when there are too few people available to run things
- Even when there are enough people, automation can enhance efficiency and productivity across a property
- Artificial intelligence can process the increasingly vast amount of farm data (though if you’re not already gathering and analyzing your data, you need to do that first), which then helps with everything from overall performance to meeting ESG objectives
Ultimately, by investing in digitization and digitalization, agricultural companies can get a 360-degree view of their operations, optimize targeted (or all) areas of their business, and reap the benefits both economically and environmentally.
Transform your Ag business into a SmartFarm
There’s a lot of new terminology floating around these days, such as smart farming, precision farming, sustainable agriculture and more.
But strip away the buzzwords, and downplay any uneasy feelings about AI or robots you might have, and what we’re really talking about here is innovation.
And this is what farmers and agribusiness have always done. Otherwise, we’d still be using horses and plows. The only difference now is that the most powerful innovations are driven by digital technologies rather than, say, enhanced fertilizers.
Agriculture companies are experts on land, crops, surrounding environments, and industry-specific business goals. At Vog, we’re experts on all the digital stuff.
We should talk.