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The Next Agricultural Revolution approaches as technology comes to the farm

Press Release published by SmithsonHill, under Artificial Intelligence / Machine learning, Automation / Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), Market Research / Analysis, Strategy

Recently, there’s been lots of talk about the 4th industrial revolution, which will harness the power of AI, robotics and big data to transform the way we live and work.  This revolution is coming to agriculture too, with what people are calling the next agricultural revolution as tech comes to the farm.  

You may remember learning about agricultural revolutions in your school history days – alongside the 3rd industrial revolution, mechanical farm machinery filled the gaps in the labour market after workers chose cities over rural lives.  

Recently, there’s been lots of talk about the 4th industrial revolution, which will harness the power of AI, robotics and big data to transform the way we live and work.  This revolution is coming to agriculture too, with what people are calling the next agricultural revolution as tech comes to the farm.  

Rising demand for food and sustainability pressures, combine with a need for improved productivity from growers. Add to that, the need to reduce waste in the food chain, improve shelf-life whilst reducing plastic use and give buyers traceability across the food chain, and hey presto, you have a perfect storm pushing forward this revolution in our food chain. 

The Agricultural industry needs to meet a greater need for food production whilst improving productivity and improving sustainability.  Michael Gove, speaking at Oxford Farming Conference in January, spoke about the need for the next agricultural revolution. 

This fourth agricultural revolution will therefore require us to change the way we work on the land and invest in its future, will force us to reform the role of Government in regulating and supporting farming; will demand new thinking and new talent in food production, and will, inevitably, require tough choices to be made.

- Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, at Oxford Farming Conference 3rd January 2019. 

Over the past 30 years, Cambridge Phenomenon businesses like ARM and Abcam  have been commercialising technology that has changed the world.  Now is the turn of AgriTech. AgFunder reported that in 20191: ‘AgriFood Tech startups, those innovating all the way from farm-to-fork, raised $16.9 billion in 2018, a 43% year-over-year increase’. 

The UK AgriTech Cluster based in Cambridge is busy providing solutions with applications across the food supply system in areas such as:   

  • Precision farming – robotics, no-till, planting, harvesting, spraying technologies. Cambridge Consultants have recently announced Fafaza, a precision crop spraying technology that performs plant recognition and individual treatment in real time 
  • Remote Sensing – giving growers insight into what is happening at a micro-level (individual plants), with AI helping to extrapolate that to the macro-level (whole fields or farms). Smartbell are bringing together farmers of all sizes with service providers to use the data generated and collected by farms to empower decision making and improve profit margins   
  • Improving data & knowledge for the grower means better productivity and profitability. As larger amounts of data are gathered, companies like Agrimetrics are helping to consolidate the data, delivering better insights to the industry.  

As the 21st Century moves forward, the role of the farmer is becoming much more that of a data analyst, as technology goes to work on the farm. Our proposed ARC project is designed to support the emerging AgriTech companies, by providing a physical space for them to grow, whilst providing the ‘creative collisions’ that are so important in clusters.    

If you’d like to know more about the emerging AgriTech industry, do have a look at our whitepaper, Delivering a Vibrant New AgriTech Cluster for the UK and Beyond.  

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