From agribusiness to subsistence: High-tech tools now available to all
This news item in The Guardian discusses the potential of precision agriculture to increase the yields of smallholder farmers. Precision agriculture is closely associated with technology, like GPS tractors, and its application to large-scale farms in developed countries. But there’s a growing body of research now to support the idea that small-scale farmers can benefit from precision agriculture. The technology which has driven precision agriculture in the global north is becoming more widely accessible. For example, a new handheld device known as the GreenSeeker can be used to measure the health and nitrogen status of plants, enabling farmers to make more precise assessments of fertilizer requirements. Some technologies are becoming more affordable though still expensive for many small-scale farmers. It is suggested that enterprising farmers may find ways round this once they see the potential benefits. Authors from the Accenture Innovation Awards discusse in this news item that innovation is needed to drive down production costs of the technologies and to allow for widespread adoption of precision agriculture. High investment costs and lack of technological knowledge are among the key barriers of implementation of precision farming in many developing countries. Last year’s Awards winner, developed a portable device that lets farmers measure the quality of their soil, thereby allowing them to optimize their crop yield and prevent the wastage of food and resources.