Agritech: How can we adopt automated solutions?

There have been some truly pioneering advances within agritech over the last ten years, through the development and integration of sensors, digitisation, and artificial intelligence. These advances also bring challenges to overcome, including how different technologies and data can be integrated across the production system.  As part of the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit I recently attended, these issues were discussed from the perspectives of organisations across various levels of the industry.

We are experiencing a chronic labour shortage on farms and a need to increase our food production to feed a growing population. Agritech offers the best solution to meet these challenges. With agritech developing at exponential speeds, the industry needs to optimise current digital technologies, and understand how the greatest value can be brought to the food chain.  Ultimately, we need a combination of technology and business model innovation to create a sustainable food system.

A key challenge is the integration of different agritech solutions on farms, and how these different solutions will communicate with each other. This is a major barrier to achieving automation, and can be very difficult to solve. Jason Keith explained that Nevonex is attempting to create an open platform, allowing different agritech solutions to cross-communicate, and farmers to access all information and data in one place.

The process of adopting new technologies on farms is not always a straightforward one, and solutions are not one size fits all. Some argue that the focus ought to be on smaller grower problems, as opposed to focusing on corporate problems; addressing field-level problems will arguably help more growers across the industry in the long term.

Technology and innovation are key for the advancement of any industry, including agriculture.  A challenge in the future will be the assimilation of automated solutions onto one platform, for the grower to access farm data in one place. Over the coming years, we will continue to see the growing automation of agricultural processes, and as an investor, I am particularly interested to witness the growth of innovative start-ups in this space.