All over the world, industries are evolving, with modern technologies like wireless broadband internet, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things creating more opportunities for businesses to expand their reach, productivity, and efficiency.
Underpinning these technologies is the paradigm shift toward Big Data, a phenomenon that involves the generation and movement of colossal amounts of structured and unstructured data within networks around the world. These days, many enterprises, government agencies, and other organizations leverage Big Data by mining and analyzing them to reveal actionable insights that they can use to improve many aspects of their operations.
Industries as varied retail, financial services, manufacturing, energy production, supply chain management, and healthcare are already beginning to benefit from Big Data analytics. However, one industry that has the potential to reap the biggest benefits is agriculture.
Today, smart farming is a reality only in select regions of the world. In the future, however, smart technologies that take advantage of Big Data will be used far and wide—improving yields, promoting environmental sustainability, and allowing for the development of new methodologies that will address global challenges like diminishing food security and climate change.
Smart Sensors and Real-Time Data Analytics
One of the keystone technologies that underlie the smart farming revolution is real-time data analytics. Today, global agriculture still largely relies on traditional methods and practices. While these practices have evolved significantly over the millennia to make farming as reliable and as efficient as possible, there are still many outside factors that affect the reliability of our agricultural systems. Everything from changing precipitation patterns, worsening droughts, the increasing severity of storms, and the emergence of new pests and diseases can all affect the dependability of our established agricultural practices.
It is in addressing these challenges that real-time analysis of Big Data can really contribute significantly. It is a technology that overlaps with the Internet of Things in that it is by using smart IoT devices that data can be gathered before they can be mined and analyzed for insights. Advanced analytics can then show farmers what specific actions or adaptations they can implement in order to ensure the health, survival, and high yield of their crops.
For instance, environmental sensors can monitor different elements like ambient temperature, soil nutrient levels, soil water content, and emerging weather patterns in real-time, allowing farmers to immediately respond to the challenges and make the right decisions. In order to do these, advanced software that can process and replicate huge volumes of data are needed. Combine these with artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions and what you have is a dynamic system that can instantly reveal insights that farmers and subject matter experts can use for more granular analysis and more targeted tackling of the challenges at hand.
Increasing Productivity and Bringing Farmers Closer to Customers
As in the other major global industries, connectivity and the use of Big Data also has the potential to revolutionize agriculture by vastly improving productivity across the board. This is possible because, as exemplified above, data-driven agriculture results in the development of innovative farming methods that will allow farmers to produce more while using less resources and possibly with limited inputs.
Players that develop the means to leverage Big Data and the insights it provides can also very well hope to ride the upsurge in global food demands—amplified by growing populations and the effects of climate change. The ability to make use of data is expected to become an important source of competitive advantage, helping farmers to develop products and services that better address the needs of customers, and allowing them to come up with marketing and pricing strategies that will help them optimize their business.
As can be gleaned from the experiences of organizations that take advantage of Big Data today, it is not really the amount of data that matters when it comes to leveraging it for the benefit of one’s business—it’s what enterprises like farms do with the data they collect. With the help of the right data analytics and integration facilities, this task will be a much more manageable affair.