Have you ever observed how tiny particles – like seeds slip out of a farmer’s hands or planting equipment into the soil? How germination occurs and the sprout squeezes itself through the deep of the soil to the ground level. You have seen how raindrops fall on the soil making it moist and the sunlight reflects on the young developing shoot enabling it to grow even healthier. How gradual it grows to a plant that is finally used as food, the experience is so magical and mind-blowing. Agriculture meets one of the most basic needs of life which is food that is needed by everyone and for this, the demand is always huge.
As the world is constantly shifting into an era where technology will influence every aspect of our lives, the field of agriculture remains one of the most ancient yet so essential. Agriculture has numerous ancient inventions that are moving with it. In this, together with Joshua Mironga, we are going to show you how then modern-day agriculture is being and will be practiced under a modernized environment. This will include hydroponics in vertical farms, greenhouse technology, and how Artificial Intelligence is influencing our management of farms. in the same way, there is also the utilization of robotics and automation in farms alongside other technologies playing a major role in livestock farming and the entire agricultural processes.
Hydroponics farming is a high tech growing method, where vegetable and fodder are grown without soil. The plants are grown by dipping the roots in a nutrient-rich medium that contains perlite or gravel. This method of farming happens in a closed and controlled environment. Using an indoor hydroponic method to grow crops makes it possible to control the light wavelength and duration, humidity, and water. Here, weeds do not exist and cases of pests and parasitic fungi are very rare and can easily be managed. The best part is that space can be maximized by doing vertical farming in layers or rooms. The layers involve growing plants stacked one above the other mostly by using shelves mounted vertically. Due to water recycling, vertical farms end up using 70% less water than farming on a field. The good news is that hydroponic farming is slowly taking shape in Kenya as one of the answers to food insecurity.
Greenhouse technology: You must have come across this technique of providing favorable environmental conditions to plants by use of framed or inflated structures covered with transparent or translucent material. The intention behind a greenhouse is to grow crops under partial or fully controlled environmental conditions to achieve optimum growth and productivity. Greenhouses allow off-season cultivation and during this period, the supply is low while the prices are high. This technology offers greater control of pests, weeds, and diseases. Crops are usually protected against extreme weather conditions and all these factors contribute to a bigger production and better quality.
As the world is constantly being consumed into the Artificial Intelligence (AI) era, the field of agriculture has no option but to embrace this. Considering agriculture was the pioneer field in inventions from Mesopotamian times, it will be an injustice for it to be left behind. Though this seems so, the reality is different. AI, which involves writing complex programs and software that run the hardware which are machines that respond to the environment through sensors, has seen massive growth. These machines have human-like behavior by providing feedback to the farmer.AI has been employed in predicting weather patterns through the use of satellites that send updated notifications to farmers mostly in irrigated areas to control water usage. Diseases have also been revolutionized by detection at early stages with very high accuracy. In cereals storage, AI is also utilized in measuring moisture amounts and any spoilage by disease or pests is easily detected. The market of agricultural produce is also experiencing major shifts with the rise of software-based markets.
The use of robots and automated machines has also been booming. Harvesting has changed from traditional human labor to the use of robots. This resulted in a reduction in the cost and increased efficiency in production. Robots also have the ability to work without the limitation of tiredness or daylight hour restrictions. Tractors have automated parts that are used for planting and crop spraying. These machines are also employed in the packaging and transportation of products.
Livestock farming has also not been left behind. This has been one of the most influential fields. Since time immemorial, humans have always tried to breed their cattle selectively with those that have desirable qualities. With the coming of genetic manipulation, professionals are able to breed and produce animal breeds that bear qualitatively desired traits. Milk and meat production are among the most impacted areas. Animal fur and skin have also received improvement. Artificial incarnation has today become almost a routine as they produce improved animal breeds. There has also been automation in the livestock that ranges from rearing newborn animals by the use of machines to the control of feeding and housing of fully-grown animals. Vertical animal farms have also seen a rise in cities. AI is also used on livestock by fitting them with braces that contain sensors that monitor their health.
The agricultural sector remains the mainstay of the Kenyan economy. An integration of modern-day tech in the field has made it make more sense as a business; thus, attracting the attention of current and upcoming entrepreneurs. It is our hope that through this you will make more informed decisions while venturing in agribusiness.
Keep it ESL and let’s Face the Food Industry in our next column.
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- August 5, 2020