Technology

THE BENEFITS AND LIMITATIONS OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IN AGRICULTURE

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits of digital technology in agriculture, and also consider the challenges, limitations, and risks of these new technologies. As the world’s population continues to grow, more farmers are turning to digital technology to increase their yields. But how can we benefit from digital agriculture? Here are some ideas. 

Applications of digital technology in agriculture

Although there are many positive benefits to applying digital technology to farming, some farmers worry that this process could create unintended negative consequences. As climate change increases the unpredictability of farming, new plant diseases and pests may emerge and the productivity of certain crops like zombie death fuck strain, and other high yielding plants will suffer. In this context, digital technology could help farmers manage these effects and improve their productivity and profit margins. However, many of the current digital tools used in agriculture are designed to target a small number of crops, industrial products, or export markets. They also do not promote diversity in the environment or encourage farmers to experiment with diverse farming styles.

 

As a result, it is important to understand what the current state of digital agriculture looks like. Most dominant discourses of digital agriculture present digital technology through a techno-progressive prism and portray it as a solution to the challenges faced by farming. However, these narratives tend to leave out the most critical issues such as policy change management, the types of food needed to support a sustainable diet, and the challenges presented by industrialisation.

Challenges

One of the main challenges of digital technology in agriculture is that farmers are not always sure which new solutions to adopt. With the number of available inputs growing at a rapid rate, farmers will increasingly seek simplified products and integrated end-to-end solutions. However, these challenges will also provide opportunities for innovators. While a wide range of digital services may be available, farmers need to be convinced that their investment in new technologies is worth it.

 

In addition to the challenges of a lack of understanding among farmers, there is also a gap in data. This lack of understanding can hinder the participation of female farmers in discussions on best farming practices. This may prevent female farmers from sharing their knowledge and information with services. Moreover, in many countries, women are underrepresented in the agricultural sector. This means that digital services may not be suitable for them. Ultimately, women farmers need to be part of the solution process, and they should be aware of the challenges.

Limitations

New technologies can pose risks to farms and businesses. There is a lack of standardization, and concern over privacy and ownership of data may prevent adoption. Lack of standardization in sensor hardware and software creates additional problems. Agricultural data is susceptible to misuse and exploitation by third parties. This lack of trust makes it difficult to assess the value of available products. The following are some of the most significant limitations of digital agriculture technology.

 

Increasing demand for sustainable and organic agricultural production can also stimulate the development of digital technologies. For example, the recent debate over glyphosate use has led large agricultural chemical companies to develop farmer advisory services to help farmers improve their use of fertilizer and other inputs. However, such services may actually increase the demand for agrochemicals. For this reason, digital technology may be a good solution to both problems.

Risks

While the benefits of data-driven decision-making are widely hailed, the risks of reliance on digital technologies are equally clear. While digital technologies can greatly reduce the guesswork involved in farming, they cannot replace farmers. Instead, they mimic farmer-led decision-making processes. Hence, farmers must remain the central decision-makers in agricultural operations. However, there are many concerns with the use of such technologies. 

 

Digital technology is an excellent tool for empowering smallholder farmers. It has the potential to support increased productivity and integration into food value chains, as well as promote climate-smart practices. Some examples of such technology include integrated data sets that combine satellite imagery, weather, and soil data. Service providers and development partners can leverage these data sets to provide affordable solutions to farmers, providing better crop management and earlier warning of crop failures.

Scale-up

As digital technology in agriculture scales up, we are witnessing a power play between Agtech companies and the global farming community. As these companies exercise their discursive power, they make the adoption of certain technologies an essentially personal decision for farmers. The adoption process goes beyond the mere materiality of these technologies to include a desire for productivity and profit improvement, recreating the ideological role of traditional techno-scientific norms.

 

However, this digital technology is not without its drawbacks. First, farmers have to adapt their production methods to match the capabilities of new digital tools. They must invest in connectivity infrastructure and advanced machinery. Also, they need to scale up their production capacity by outsourcing parts of their work. But it can be done. The most effective and cost-effective way to go about it is through collective investment. And if we are able to scale up our operations through outsourcing, the technology will become more accessible to everyone, including farmers.

Impact

The advent of digital agriculture has changed the way people think about and approach farming. Farmers and agricultural actors are embracing new methods and technologies to boost productivity. While it is too early to assess the impact of these technologies on society, researchers have identified several challenges. While some technologies have proven successful in other industries, digital agriculture still has a way to go. It remains to be seen how farmers and other stakeholders will respond to this new technology.

Many farmers in LMICs lack the necessary technological skills and literacy to make the most of digital tools. While some digital tools can help them improve yields and productivity, they need to be accessible. Some farmers have been reluctant to deploy them because of lack of information and evidence of their impact. As a result, digital agriculture has to complement traditional farming practices rather than replacing them. This means that farmers must adopt the most cost-effective digital tools to ensure maximum productivity.

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