Six Emerging Technologies as Career Pathways for the Future Agriculturist: You must know
The agriculture industry has undergone significant changes and continues to evolve to meet the growing demand for food due to the increasing global population. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the world`s population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, requiring a 70% increase in food production (FAO, 2019). This challenge is further exacerbated by the fact that agricultural land is limited, and climate change is threatening food security.
To address this challenge, emerging technologies have the potential to revolutionize the agricultural sector by enabling more efficient and sustainable food production. The World Bank reports that precision agriculture, for instance, has led to an increase in crop yields by 20-30% and a reduction in fertilizer use by 15-20% (World Bank, 2019). Similarly, vertical farming has been shown to produce 100 times more crops per square foot than traditional farming while using 70-95% less water (Cho, 2011).
The adoption of emerging technologies has transformed agriculture, making it more efficient, sustainable, and profitable. According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, digital agriculture technologies have the potential to increase agricultural productivity by $440 billion to $627 billion annually by 2030 (McKinsey & Company, 2019).
New career pathways, as a result, are emerging in the agriculture industry. The FAO reports that the adoption of emerging technologies has created new jobs, such as precision agriculture technicians, farm data analysts, and agricultural technologists and many more (FAO, 2021). In this article I will discuss about six emerging technologies based career pathways that will be very helpful for you.
Precision agriculture is a rapidly growing industry, driven by the need for sustainable and efficient food production. According to a report by Grand View Research, the precision agriculture market is expected to reach $16.09 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.0%.
The practice of precision agriculture relies on a range of advanced technologies, including sensors, drones, and GPS mapping. Sensors can measure soil moisture, temperature, and nutrient levels, providing farmers with detailed information about their crops` needs. Drones equipped with cameras and sensors can gather aerial data about crop growth and help farmers detect potential issues such as pest infestations or nutrient deficiencies. GPS mapping can be used to create detailed maps of crop fields and track crop growth over time.
The insights gained from this data can help farmers make informed decisions about when to plant, fertilize, and harvest crops. For example, the data can be used to create variable-rate application maps, which guide the precise application of fertilizers and pesticides, reducing waste and improving crop yields.
Precision agriculture also creates new career pathways for skilled professionals. The demand for precision agriculture technicians, crop consultants, and precision agriculture engineers is on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of agricultural and food scientists, including precision agriculture technicians, is projected to grow 6% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative technology in the agriculture industry, offering farmers unprecedented capabilities to manage their crops more efficiently and effectively. According to a recent report, the AI in agriculture market size is expected to reach USD 4.0 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 22.5%.
AI enables farmers to analyze vast amounts of data, including crop yields, weather patterns, soil conditions, and pest and disease infestations, to identify patterns and provide insights into crop management. For example, machine learning algorithms can predict optimal planting times and fertilizer application rates based on soil conditions and weather patterns. AI can also help farmers identify potential problems, such as nutrient deficiencies or pest infestations, and provide recommendations for remediation.
AI technologies are also being used to develop predictive models that can provide insights into long-term crop productivity and help farmers make informed decisions about crop rotations and land use. For example, a study by the University of Illinois found that machine learning algorithms could predict corn and soybean yields with 95% accuracy based on historical yield data, weather patterns, and other environmental factors (University of Illinois, 2019).
The rapid adoption of AI in agriculture has created new career pathways for professionals who can develop and implement AI solutions. The demand for AI engineers, data scientists, and machine learning specialists is on the rise in the agriculture industry. According to a report by LinkedIn, machine learning engineer is one of the fastest-growing job titles in the United States, with a 32% annual growth rate (LinkedIn, 2020).
Blockchain technology has emerged as a promising solution to improve the transparency and efficiency of the food supply chain. According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global blockchain in agriculture market size is expected to reach $1.4 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 45.8% from 2021 to 2028 (Allied Market Research, 2021).
Blockchain technology enables farmers to track their products from farm to table, ensuring transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain. By creating a decentralized, immutable ledger of transactions, blockchain can provide a transparent record of a product`s journey from the farm to the consumer. This can help consumers make more informed choices about the food they purchase and can also provide greater assurance about the safety and quality of the food they consume.
In addition to improving transparency, blockchain technology can also help prevent food fraud and reduce food waste. For example, by using blockchain technology to track the movement of products, farmers can detect and prevent counterfeit or mislabeled products from entering the supply chain. This can reduce the risk of food fraud, which is estimated to cost the global food industry up to $40 billion per year (Food Safety Magazine, 2019).
The adoption of blockchain technology in agriculture has created new career opportunities for professionals who can develop and implement blockchain solutions. Careers in blockchain technology in agriculture include blockchain developers who can design and build blockchain applications, supply chain analysts who can analyze supply chain data, and data analysts who can extract insights from blockchain data.
The use of renewable energy sources in agriculture has become increasingly important due to the need to reduce carbon emissions and cut energy costs. The agriculture sector is responsible for approximately 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with a significant proportion coming from the use of fossil fuels in farm operations (FAO, 2020). The adoption of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power can help farmers reduce their carbon footprint and save on energy costs.
Solar panels and wind turbines are the most commonly used renewable energy sources in agriculture. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), solar energy has the potential to provide 16% of the world`s electricity by 2050, while wind energy could provide up to 18% (IRENA, 2019). By harnessing the power of the sun and wind, farmers can generate clean, renewable energy to power their operations, reducing their reliance on fossil fuels.
Renewable energy careers in agriculture include renewable energy engineers, energy analysts, and solar panel installers. Renewable energy engineers design and develop renewable energy systems, such as solar and wind power systems, for use in agriculture. Energy analysts evaluate energy use and identify opportunities for energy efficiency and renewable energy integration. Solar panel installers install solar panels on farms to generate renewable energy for farm operations.
Biotechnology is an important tool for agricultural innovation and sustainability. Genetic engineering and other biotech tools are being used to develop crops that are more resistant to pests, disease, and environmental stressors. These innovations have the potential to increase crop yields, reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides, and improve food security.
One example of biotechnology in agriculture is the development of genetically modified (GM) crops. GM crops are designed to resist pests and disease, tolerate extreme weather conditions, and increase yields. According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), in 2020, a total of 190.4 million hectares of GM crops were grown globally, with the majority of the crops being soybean, maize, cotton, and canola (ISAAA, 2021). The adoption of GM crops has helped farmers increase yields, reduce crop loss due to pests and disease, and decrease the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides.
Another example of biotechnology in agriculture is the use of gene editing tools such as CRISPR/Cas9 to modify crops. Gene editing is a precise and efficient tool that allows scientists to make targeted changes to an organism`s DNA. This technology can be used to develop crops that are more resistant to pests and disease, have a longer shelf life, and are more nutritious. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), gene editing holds great promise for improving crop productivity, food quality, and nutrition (FAO, 2018).
Biotechnology careers in agriculture include biotech research scientists, plant geneticists, and biotech product managers. Biotech research scientists conduct research and development to create new biotech tools and products. Plant geneticists use biotech tools to improve plant genetics and create new crop varieties. Biotech product managers oversee the development and marketing of biotech products for use in agriculture. The biotechnology field is rapidly growing, and there is a high demand for professionals with expertise in biotechnology and agriculture.
Biotechnology is playing an increasingly important role in agriculture, with genetic engineering and other biotech tools being used to create crops that are more resistant to pests, disease, and environmental stressors. Biotechnology has the potential to increase crop yields, reduce the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides, and improve food security. Careers in biotechnology in agriculture include biotech research scientists, plant geneticists, and biotech product managers, providing exciting new opportunities for individuals interested in agricultural innovation and sustainability.
According to a report by Markets and Markets, the vertical farming market size is projected to reach USD 7.3 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 24.8% from 2020 to 2025. This growth can be attributed to the increasing demand for high-quality food with low environmental impact. In addition, the global population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, which means that there will be a greater need for efficient and sustainable food production.
Furthermore, a study by the University of Arizona found that vertical farming uses 70% less water than traditional farming, making it a more sustainable and eco-friendly option. The controlled environment also reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides, creating a healthier and safer product.
As for career pathways, vertical farming requires professionals with knowledge in agriculture, engineering, and technology. They need to understand the intricacies of plant growth, lighting systems, and climate control, among other things. Careers in vertical farming include vertical farm designers, who design and plan the layout of the vertical farm; vertical farm technicians, who monitor and maintain the systems; and vertical farm managers, who oversee the entire operation.
Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions that one can make in their life. As the world continues to evolve and new technologies emerge, it is essential to stay updated and pursue career opportunities in emerging fields. With the growing population and increasing demand for food, the agricultural industry is ripe with opportunities for professionals who are willing to embrace new technologies and innovations.
Precision agriculture, AI, blockchain technology, biotechnology, renewable energy, and vertical farming are all emerging areas that have the potential to transform the agricultural industry. These technologies are not only making the industry more efficient and sustainable but also creating exciting new career pathways for individuals interested in agriculture.
India, with its vast human resource potential, has a great opportunity to supply skilled professionals to the global workforce. By developing specific areas of expertise and strengthening skills, individuals can position themselves as experts in emerging fields, making themselves more valuable to the industry.
As we move towards a more automated world, where routine tasks are being taken over by AI, it is important to stay ahead of the curve and become an expert in a specific field. This will not only help individuals secure jobs but also allow them to make significant contributions to the industry.
The time is now to take action. Develop your specific areas and strengthen your skills to become expert. In this era of AI only experts will get jobs as other routine works will be automated through AI. So make your self expert. All the best
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Author: Dr. Anirban Mukherjee
Dr. Mukherjee is working as a scientist in ICAR-Research Complex for Eastern Region, Patna.