8 trends in worldwide agricultural innovations in 2018

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Nv.ua column of Yulia Poroshenko, Agrohub founder, and Kirill Krivolapov, the partner of the company in the field of management consulting CIVITTA

Ukraine repeats the trajectory along which the Western world moves.

And if somewhere innovations are already turning into trends (and you will see below how these tendencies are interrelated), sooner or later the Ukrainian agrarian sector will adapt them. While it can take advantage of the late adopters: to apply already configured, efficiently working system, without going through the whole path of evolution.

We have identified eight world trends that will affect the industry in 2018.

1. Integration of agro-technologies into a complete digital production system

The agriculture sector has already accumulated a significant technology bank, and in 2018 it will move to the phase of their integration. New agro-technologies, which are just emerging in the environment of start-ups, will already join these holistic IT systems.

The leaders of the process are the companies Hortau and CropX, developing integrated wireless networks, to which the technology is connected.

The spread of IT systems for the collection, storage, processing and issuance of information will create a basis for large-scale application of Big Data and AI in the agricultural sector.

2. Vertical farms in megacities

The number of urban population in the world continues to grow, while urban residents change their working habits (they work more from home, they have more free time) and patterns (they enjoy the organic food grown by themselves).

This will lead to the development of vertical farms, allowing a small area within the city to grow a variety of agricultural crops. Although the technology was first implemented only in 2017 in Japan, it “became so popular”, that 2018 can already become a year of its heyday.

For example, the Plenty startup in San Francisco grows 350 times more products than can be grown on a similar area, with reduced water consumption. “Can the cabbage please you?” – in such manner Plenty puts the question on the main page of its site.

Vertical farms are one of the best examples of the symbiosis of IT and the agricultural sector, their effectiveness is based on complex information systems.

This trend is confirmed by interest from investors: Plenty attracted $ 200 million investment.

3. Simulation of agricultural crops

This trend is also associated with the development of holistic digital systems for controlling agricultural production. Since agrarians can now collect the maximum amount of information about their crops and easily analyze it, the modification of plants becomes easier then.

Drones, satellites, sensors and other technologies will contribute to the accumulation of even more data, so the growth of R&D quality in the modification of existing crops is an exponential trend.

4. Transparency 2.0 in relation to food products

People want to know more about the origin of food and its nature. Labeling food, stories about who, where and how is growing them. Transparency and accessibility of this information is a principle embedded in the work of a number of agricultural innovations. The fact that there is a consumer demand for innovations makes such innovations attractive for investors.

5. “Personalization” of land

A particular piece of land can be better suited for growing a specific crop and worse for another. Again, the technology of data collection and processing makes it possible to identify such pattern. Thus, farmers can maximize the utility of each separate land plot. That will allow farmers to increase productivity and better manage available resources.

We see that large Ukrainian agricultural holdings are increasingly using the technology of precision farming. While at the moment it is just measurements, soil analysis, increased yields, fertilizers saving and protective agents, monitoring the field in real time. But the personalization of sites, in our estimation, is an innovation of the near future.

6. Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics is based on computer storage, analysis and exchange of large volumes of biological data. There are already huge databases of genomes in Europe, the United States and Japan. There are protein databases; the United States and Switzerland have launched the Uniprot platform.

Targeted accumulation of a large amount of information will help enrich knowledge about biology, which in practice will lead to a better understanding of biological processes and phenomena, and more efficient crop breeding.

7. Introduction of online animal welfare monitoring systems

In 2011, the Indian startup StellApps developed a life tracker that is put on a cow and monitors its conditions in real time. This technology allows you to respond in a timely manner to unexpected events and build new strategies the area of animal treatment.

Today, such trackers are not yet very common, but in 2018 we expect growth in demand for them. This is connected to the first trend – the creation of holistic digital systems in agricultural companies.

8. Alternative sources of protein

The price of one burger made with an alternative protein is already 11 dollars against thousands three years ago. The progress in this direction can be dramatic in 2018.

These tendencies make us think about the skills and proficiency of the agrarian of the future. Today, knowledge in the field of technology determines the success in agriculture. Perhaps the future farmer is a scientist who spends most of his time in laboratories where he crosses crops. More and more of agricultural work becomes automated, a growing number of digital technologies are working to increase the productivity of agribusiness. The profession itself is changing.

Based on materials from CleanTech, HiTech, Corn and Soy Bean Digest, CRN, STT, Forbes, AgFunderNews

First published at nv.ua