This workshop announcement reflects what I was talking about in my last post.
Agriculture 4.0; Connecting the Field to the Internet
Scott Shearer, Ohio State University
Understanding “Big Data” and the “Internet of Things” will be increasingly important for crop production professionals as we move into a new level of understanding and management. Scott as an agricultural engineer studies the interaction of equipment and crop production. In light of the trend toward large scale equipment at the same time as climate change and other factors limited the number of suitable spring and fall working days, and the introduction of robotics, what is the future scale of farm equipment? Come and explore this intriguing question with Scott. Scott is also very involved in precision agriculture with respect to big data management and will discuss how this relates to the equipment scale question. (2016 FarmSmart Ag Conference Program, Saturday, January 23, 2016, Guelph, ON)
This is data-driven agriculture 2.0. We are still not able to fully define the emerging agriculture 3.0, let alone image agriculture 4.0!
According to this article in the New York Times (also quoted in my previous blog), and other references throughout this blog, the progression of farming can be presented in three stages; agriculture 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0.
The first, preindustrial agriculture, dating from before Christ to about 1920, consisted of labor-intensive, essentially subsistence farming on small farms, which took two acres to feed one person. In the second stage, industrial agriculture, from 1920 to about 2010, tractors and combine harvesters, chemical fertilizers and seed science opened the way to large commercial farms. One result has been big gains in productivity, with one acre feeding five people.
The third stage, which Mr. Donny calls Ag 3.0, is just getting underway and involves exploiting data from many sources — sensors on farm equipment and plants, satellite images and weather tracking. In the near future, the use of water and fertilizer will be measured and monitored in detail, sometimes on a plant-by-plant basis.
I don’t agree with all of the latter, but I do agree that we are entering a brand new era of farming. And it won’t be one that supports corporations first and strives for quantity over quality and preserving Earth’s resources. As Gary Kleppel, farmer and professor of biology at SUNY, Albany writes in his book, The Emergent Agriculture (2014):
I predict that increasing numbers of farmers will abandon industrial food production and commodities-based marketing, preferring the more appreciative, humanizing, and often more lucrative alternatives that are emergent…. this is how you were taught to farm. It is probably how your parents farmed. It was, for most farmers, the only game in town.
However, it is no longer acceptable and never has been, to degrade the earth, jeopardize food security and human health, and treat livestock so inhumanely (note: very disturbing video).