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Farmers look at cutting-edge technology for solutions

Agriculture has gone through waves of productivity increase in the past, but this time around data is one of the primary drivers of productivity and sustainability. Farmers across the globe are turning to smart, connected technology and reaping the rewards of going digital. With tight margins, every piece of technology that can improve profitability is of value to farmers.

There have been a lot of improvements in technology in agriculture in the last ten years, but the biggest changes have to do with precision farming. Precision farming is a process by which data is gathered and managed by multiple technologies such as in-field, in-building, or in-animal sensors and remote (satellite and drone) sensing systems.

GPS technology has helped farms plan better by allowing for the delivery of the correct amounts of fertiliser, chemicals, seed population, and other inputs, as well as moisture to every part of the field and yield measurements taken while the crop is being harvested.

Companies such as Google have used advances in artificial intelligence to help farmers make sense of the growing amount of satellite, tractor and field data. In the process, farmers increase their yields and profit by knowing how to precisely plant their crops, and when exactly to apply water and fertiliser.

The technological backbone of Google’s automation project is the Internet of Things (IoT), which involves equipping objects with sensors and software so they can collect and exchange data. IoT technology has created amazing new precision tools for farmers and has made farming more scientific and cost-effective. Examples of IoT technology include a tractor connected to an online mapping system; an air filter that can communicate with its manufacturer to order a replacement without any human involvement, and devices placed among crops to measure sunlight levels, heat units and pest pressures.

Mobile devices have also increased efficiency by allowing farmers to stay on top of market changes and providing a means of simply retrieving data when and where they need it.

For farmers and food industry stakeholders, the most important priority is to understand what kinds of technology is available in their sector and to get expert help implementing new digital solutions.

Grove Group, a global Google partner, is a technology company that has helped customers since 2005 solve business problems through the innovative use of technology. Grove’s solutions help clients to capitalise on the benefits of Cloud Computing, Mobility and Big Data Analytics while maximising the investments in their current solutions.

Grove, and consultancy partner Retro Rabbit, has assisted the well-known agricultural brand ZZ2 in utilising the G Suite Business solution that offers an integrated layer of next-generation security and compliance, improved video conferencing, Android for Work, Google App Maker and improved mobile device management capabilities. You can read more about this here.

Grove also assisted Kromco, a fruit packing facility based in Grabouw in the Western Cape, to find a cost-effective, secure and reliable email solution. The collaborative features and ease-of-use offered by the Google Docs environment resulted in an overwhelming adoption rate, and better utilisation of resources for Kromco. Rupert Swanepoel, IT Manager at Kromco says that the uptake of the new email environment has been seamless and easy. “The fact that many users at Kromco were already familiar with the Gmail environment made the switchover seamless, on top of that all users’ email addresses stayed the same.”

Chad Bartlett, Head of Innovation and Partnerships at Grove Group says he is excited about the farming sector’s overwhelming interest in adapting to new technology. “In South Africa the biggest benefit of new technology has been that the barrier of entry into farming technology has dropped, as cloud computing, computing systems, connectivity, open-source software, and other digital tools have become increasingly affordable and accessible. Big and small agricultural operations reap the rewards of digital solutions.”

Another great example of GCP adoption:
Using GCP technology, the Global Fishing Watch enables you to see fishing activity anywhere in the ocean. It’s in near real time and for free! Check it out. []

Stay ahead of the curve. Find out how Grove's best-of-breed technology solutions can increase your business productivity. Contact us today.
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Tags: Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

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