HomeAgricultureHow much tech can agric consume?

How much tech can agric consume?

Kudakwashe Gwabanayi
ONE of the primary roles of journalism is to answer questions that  keep people awake every night. Currently, debate in agricultural circles is rife about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) the world is undergoing.

Farmers are worried about its impact on agriculture. Since 4IR is about robots, augmented reality and virtual reality, big data, 3D and 4D printing, farmers are worried if they are not going to be dispensable soon.

Already, houses are being printed out, rendering builders jobless. The real fear is that they may be replaced by robots.

Whilst over the years technology has advanced in many spheres of human life, there has been much ado about nothing to the basic farming principle.

Farming has remained the same — putting the seed in the ground and rearing farm animals. This requires humans to do so.

There have been mechanical improvements to it but it seems like the human hand is as much required as it was in the Book of Genesis “when God created the Earth”.

Modern farms and agricultural operations work far differently from those a few decades ago, primarily because of advancements in technology, including sensors, devices, machines, and information technology.

Today’s agriculture routinely uses sophisticated technologies, such as robots, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images and GPS technology.

These advanced devices and precision agriculture and robotic systems allow businesses to be more profitable, efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly.

They have been able to reduce the workforce that one requires to farm but definitely cannot work without the human eye.

Over the years, biological improvements became central to food production. However the genetically modified foods came with a lot of side effects and have been banned in several countries. The same is most likely to happen to any food that may be produced without the human eye.

Whilst we cannot wish agricultural technology away, it must be appreciated that it has a lot of advantages because farmers no longer have to apply water, fertilisers, and pesticides uniformly across entire fields.

Instead, they can use the minimum quantities required and target very specific areas, or even treat individual plants differently.

In addition, decreased  use of water, fertiliser and pesticides, in turn keeps food prices down.

Agricultural technologies enable more reliable monitoring and management of natural resources, such as air and water quality. It also gives producers greater control over plant and animal production, processing, distribution, and storage.

Technological advancement has also made it easier for researchers to do their job and improve productivity.

In animal husbandry, any technological equipment and tools made animal husbandry easier and more comfortable. Management decisions and applications are especially affected by this rapid development.

Management decisions that need to be done daily are configured according to the correctness of the decisions to be made. At this point, smart systems give many opportunities to farmers. Milking, feeding, environmental control and reproductive performance constitute everyday jobs most affected by correct management decisions.

Human error in this work and decisions made have a big effect on last product quality and profitability are not able to be risked.

Be that as it may, the human figure in agriculture may not be easily done away with in agriculture. At the end of the day, the main reason for farming is to feed humans and not machines. Is it not prudent that humans produce what they want to eat?

  • Gwabanayi is a practising journalist and a farmer in his own right. — 0772 865 703 or gwabanayi@gmail.com

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