'Smart crops' to meet surging demand in food, report predicts

Tech-enabled farming will comprise of self-regulated ‘smart crops’ by the year 2030, GlobalData's new report predicts
Tech-enabled farming will comprise of self-regulated ‘smart crops’ by the year 2030, GlobalData's new report predicts

Climate change and population growth will drive the need for ‘smart’ crops to meet increased food demands, according to a new report.

The huge amount of data that would be needed to ensure the highest crop efficiency will lead to greater automation in farming by 2030.

The report by GlobalData, a data and analytics company, predicts that farms in the 2030s will become ‘smart’, driven by the need to produce more food on less land.

To maximise yield, farms will need to collect and monitor huge amounts of data from their crops and livestock, the report says.

For example, to grow wheat in a field effectively, growth rate, nutritional content, fluid intake, and soil quality should be recorded, collected via numerous sensors.

This data will be fed into agriculture technology platforms, which combined internet of things (IoT) and automation in order for the crops to self regulate.

Rachel Foster Jones, of GlobalData, said multiple issues were currently putting pressure on agriculture, namely climate change and labour shortages.

"Agriculture technology will promise a much-needed solution," she said. GlobalData’s report highlights that the UK is already seeing growth in agri-tech.

And hiring for smart greenhouse-related roles has more than tripled from 2021, it explains.

Ms Foster Jones added: “Investment in smart greenhouses is only going to increase as the challenges facing the agricultural sector call for more automation.

"As automation increases, farmers will by hired more and more for their technical expertise and data processing skills, as well as their knowledge of the agricultural process.

"Current young farmers should start upskilling now to give themselves an edge.”

The report also reveals that the agricultural drone industry is the fastest growing among the non-military drone segments, in terms of the number of patents.

Agricultural drone related patents have experienced a 14-fold increase between 2015 and 2021.

Ms Foster Jones said there was rapid innovation in this area: "Modular-based innovation will mean that drones will be able to undertake advanced crop spraying and terrain monitoring by 2030.

"The labour crisis and skills shortage will bolster agriculture drone demand, as they will be able to undertake time-consuming tasks.”