Technology

The future of agriculture
Dramatic price fluctuations, increasing demand, the food vs. fuel debate, and other events of the past year may have food producers wondering which way is up. Despite these recent uncertainties, 'up' is precisely the direction an Iowa State researcher believes agriculture is headed for at least the next 10 years. Wally Huffman, professor in agricultural economics and Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences, predicts supply will go up, demand will go up, and real prices of grain and oilseeds also will go up. "I'm very optimistic about the next 10 years," said Huffman. Huffman presented his research to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, France, last month. OECD and the Iowa Agricultural Experiment Station supported the research. An important part of Huffman's study was the long-term trend of corn and soybean yields in Iowa, wheat in Kansas and France, rice in Japan and potatoes in the Netherlands. Huffman examined the trends and then made projections about the next decade. The optimism starts with the producers. "Prices right now for corn and soybeans are up about 50 percent relative to two years ago, so those are relatively good prices," he said. "That's good news for grain producers." The impact that the rising demand for biofuels will have on the market for agricultural products is not entirely clear, but grain and oilseed prices will generally be higher than they would be without biofuels. "Overall, biofuels are probably a good thing for farmers," he said. "However, there will be more erratic variation in grain and oilseed prices than there would be without biofuels," he said. The main reasons are the erratic components to both supply and demand of crude oil. While biofuels are pushing demand for grain and oilseeds up, Huffman says the long-term trend in supply of grain and oilseeds is due to new technologies that are being developed by the private sector and marketed to farmers. "Supply is going up, and demand is going up," he said. "I think they will grow at a similar pace. There will be occasional spikes due to bad weather and abrupt restriction in crude oil production, but prices will come down. When they do, they will come down to similar levels to what they are now in real terms, and those are pretty good prices. "For the past 100 years, on average, real agricultural product prices have been falling as technology has been allowing supply to increase faster than demand," he said. But for the past decade, demand has been rising as quickly as supply, he added. Yields for major field crops in major producing areas have been steadily increasing. There is no indication that the rate is slowing and no reason to fear falling crop yields. Huffman predicts that the rate of increase in yields for corn and soybeans in major production areas will rise much faster than it has in the past 50 years. "In the case of corn, since 1955 the average rate of increase in Iowa crop yield has been two bushels, per acre, per year," said Huffman. "That's an amazing accomplishment starting from about 65 bushels, per acre, per year in 1955, up to about 165 bushels, per acre, per year now." Huffman thinks the future will be even better. "From 2010 to 2019, corn yields are going to increase quite substantially, maybe at four to six bushels, per acre, per year," he said.

Kansas is the leading producer of wheat in the United States with yields of about 45 bu/ac/yr. That rate of improvement in Iowa soybean yields will continue or possibly increase over the next decade. Current soybean yields are about 50 bu/ac/yr. per acre. Yields in the Netherlands have been increasing by about 4. according to Huffman. says Huffman. France is the leading wheat producer in the European Union. including the United States. and yields are phenomenal.5 bu/ac/yr. "Potatoes are a major world food crop and they don't get a lot of attention. and Huffman attributes much of their production advantage to the French emphasis on wheat advantage. They are also showing faster production improvement. Yields have been improving at about . GM rice has been tried. These improvements are the result of corn that has been genetically modified (GM) to have certain desirable traits. although less dramatically than corn.6 bu/ac/yr over the last 50 years and are now at 670 bu/ac/yr. Netherlands is the most advanced country in the world when it comes to potato production technology. including methods to condense decades of breeding and testing into a few years * change in biofuels from corn-based to biomass-based by 2019 * GM crops gain more acceptance in Europe . Yields are improving at more than 1. Yields are improving at a rate of . Other commodities have also improved yield and will likely see continuing increases.5 bu/ac/yr. Soybean yields in Iowa also are increasing.5 bushel. and reduced. and are now at 113 bu/ac/yr compared to around 90 bu/ac/yr in 1960. Japan is a major rice producer.5 bu/ac/yr since about 1950. The trend over the past 50 years is an increase of about . Also. According to Huffman. Farmers in France are producing wheat at about 113 bu/ac/yr. "They are consumed in large amounts in Europe and other places. improved farm management. but has not measurably increased yields.and no-till farming will contribute to rising corn yields in the Midwest." Several variables will impact the future of crops. better equipment. the biggest are: * both private companies and government researchers are working on improving production * higher yields as a result of new techniques in breeding crops.Much of the increase will be due to genetic improvements in hybrid corn varieties associated with new." said Huffman. according to Huffman. multiple stacking of genes for insect protection and herbicide tolerance that will permit a major increase in plant populations. per year (bu/ac/yr). Huffman predicts wheat yields may increase faster if GM wheat is more successful. France often puts their best land into wheat production.

However the cost associated to achieve this target can be minimized and the information flow to the participants in agriculture can be enhanced by leveraging information technology. . However. This can help the farmers to get information about the best equipments to use and similarly the companies can promote their farm equipments.With the fast changing global environment and the adoption of latest technologies in farming across the world. Production techniques and information inquiry system should be created. This information can be transmitted via the internet to the database server. IT seems to be a promising medium through which relevant information can be communicated to help in farming and post harvest processes. And agricultural sector is also going to be positively affected if the flow of information increases. But it is a difficult task to achieve the same. So when we talk about increasing the information flow and management of the same we are talking about a lot of investment. and more so in agricultural sector where the information infrastructure is at the most primitive stage. This repository should ideally be having the best and innovative techniques developed by R&D institutes or some progressive farmers.    A database for crops can be maintained: The database repository can include important information about the types of crops and land holding pattern. rather it has become a conglomeration of interconnected territories. Would be a great source of information for the farmers to access and utilize. it seems apt for Indian agriculture to look into the possibilities of leveraging technology to stay competitive. The farmers still face the problems of inadequate information related to cultivation of crops. the presence of which could have enhanced the decision making capability of the farmers. Let us see how! IT adoption in Agriculture The effectiveness and efficiency of the information used in agriculture can be increased multifold by the adoption of Information Technology in agriculture. The information thus accumulated can play a significant role in the decision making process. it is easy to talk about the collection and dissemination of information. Areas of Importance: The following can be looked upon as the areas of development in IT to leverage information in an effective way to decrease the order and delivery time. Today if the price of a commodity is changed in one corner of the globe. It would also help in customer relationship management. Information access and improved communication is viewed as having direct implications for the socio-economic development of a nation. And agriculture is no exception to the rule. it surely does impact the price of another in a distant land which is thousands of miles away. The current context thus calls for industries to be aware and updated about the changing trading policies. And in Indian context we can say that the social and economic development of the Indian agrarian community can be brought in with the effective use of IT. System for inquiry about farm machineries: This system can be developed by the companies operating in the farm machinery sector. As it has been widely accepted by most that in today’s world the way information is being gathered and shared would play a very significant role in developmental process. The world is no longer a cluster of Standalone Islands.

Some of the companies like ITC have already realized the business potential that they can generate through effective use of IT. A similar system for agricultural inputs like seeds. but an institutional approach seems to be more promising. And it would lead to a collaborative system of information sharing among the various key players in the entire agricultural supply chain. And the Department of Agriculture has also led visionary plans for the same. When we talk about the use of IT we are talking about users who have very low literacy rate. increasing competition and globalization. Low adaptability to new technology due to lack of awareness. Some of the key concerns that IT can address and help farmers decide better are:     Information about the benefits of increased irrigation Cost-effective use of fertilizers and chemicals How and when to market the produce How and when to order the agricultural inputs needed for farming So it seems that the use of information technology will enable the farmers to come up with cost-effective and profitable marketing and distribution strategies. Further it would be possible to trade online thus reducing a lot of post-harvest cost. fertilizers etc can be developed by the relevant companies. Other key issues are :     The lack of proper communication infrastructure Cost of computers Small individual farmers’ incapability to adapt to IT due to financial and education constraint. In future therefore we will witness a reduction in cost and time of information system through the use of Information technology. Given these facts it seems difficult to implement IT systems for each individual.Instead the Government should encourage small farmers to pool resources to form groups and start farming in groups so as to enhance their spending capabilities when it comes to use of IT. This would be beneficial and a commercially viable option for the farmers as it could lead to attainment of efficient trading and marketing practices for the farmers. It would not be an overstatement if we say that agricultural growth would be information driven and IT is going to be the solution for the growing challenges for the farmers which are brought in by rising cost. In this regard India faces another problem of magnitude. So to expect them to individually come up with information systems for their farm land would be a impossible proposition. The government is not only aware of these possibilities but they have also initiated steps to achieve significant goals in this regard. The National Agricultural Policy lays high importance on the implementation of IT for agricultural sector. Around 85 percent of farmers in India are small farmers who have less than 2 hectare of land. . However the picture is not that rosy a lot of problems beset the effective implementation and use of IT faces a lot of challenges. IT will enable farmers to take more precise and informed decisions through the enhanced control that they will have on the information channels. This would act as a barrier since most of the applications and software are built on English language.

The internet kiosks set up by ITC under their e-Chaupal initiative is a step towards that direction. Agriculture has also been greatly influenced by IT. 4 Student Teaching . People who use information technology creatively are pioneering careers in agriculture today. The Internet is a standing topic in newspapers and on television. it can be difficult to visit student teachers. People must have computer and information technology. process. These "beginning" teachers have . there is a shortage of teachers. sometimes supervision needs to be done in an alternative way. Farm animals are fed and monitored by electronic sensors and identification systems. In all phases of the agricultural industry. it's most important role remains communication. Jobs in today's agricultural workforce require greater use of technological skills than ever before. Selling or buying online began to become popular in the world. and the number of users doubles every year. needs to know how to incorporate information technology into their daily teaching. which simply replaces the newspaper as a communication tool. To participate and make informed decisions in the agricultural industry a person must have ability to gather. Presently. However. One such communication tool is the Web Site. and how we communicate information to people. IT supports new methods for precision agriculture like computerized farm machinery that applies for fertilizers and pesticides.In some instances. almost every company has its own web site The following are specific ways information technologies being applied through agricultural education:     Basic Internet Applications PowerPoint Presentations Global Position-ing Systems (GPS) E-Commerce Preservice Teacher Education: 4Applications in Teaching Methods . whether in a formal setting like the public schools or in an informal setting like an extension workshop. The future of agriculture is in IT or is it the future of IT is in agriculture! Did someone say collaboration? Role of Information Technology in Agriculture By Ainsley Wirekoon Information Technology (IT) has long been viewed as having great potential for improving decision making in agriculture.Anyone who will be involved in teaching.In many countries. information technologies are vital to the management and success of a business. and the Internet has provided us with an ideal opportunity to do so. and manipulate data. IT has connected the world globally and is now changing our life style and social consciousness dynamically. Professional Development: 4Alternative Certification Programs . IT refers to how we use information. Information Technology is rapidly becoming more and more visible in society and agriculture. With fewer faculties available to supervise interns and added responsibilities. how we compute information.

with technology transfer 'across the last mile' remaining the weakest link in the Sri Lanka. with low levels of computer literacy and usage in the farm sector.. tele centers and other methods for promoting IT access and knowledge diffusion in the rural sector in Sri Lanka. time of harvest and yield. and much attention is being given by the Government and NGOs to the development of wireless networks. and agronomy and soil sciences are used to increase the rice output. The situation in Sri Lanka is quite different. there is an urgent need to develop the following items: 4Farmers' crop database must be managed. online trading.Many teachers want to earn higher degrees. It is increasingly being used to help managers make better decisions. Integrating IT with agriculture will help any country to regulate its overall economy and trade. teachers can complete courses from the convenience of their office or home and never have to set foot on campus again. health services. Information of the required quality always has the potential of improving efficiency in all spheres of agriculture. but have difficulty in finding the time to complete degrees. 4Crops information service system should be created. IT and the problem facing decision makers are constantly changing. The database includes the kinds of crops. geographical information systems. yet countries are willing to place them in classroom situations. IT has been one of the most aspired fields in today's world. The different Information Technologies like Expert System in Decision Support System and Remote Sensing have brought revolution in world agriculture. future information systems for research purposes will be significantly different than current systems because of these changes. With the wide array of information technologies available. But farmers often go to great efforts to obtain better information. Agriculture and Irrigation. 4 Graduate Education . This gap in communication may be bridged by information technology. However. . The use of IT in agribusiness in some countries is quite advanced. The use of IT in agriculture has grown rapidly in the past few years.Individuals who need to get updated about technical information in agriculture can easily look at information if it is placed on a web-site.no training in program planning or teaching methods. Sri Lanka must give due attention to the complex interactions between the many players to the role of tacit knowledge and social actors. integrated crop management systems for different crops. and to the low level of the IT literacy in the rural sector. This approach is capital intensive and useful where large tracts of land are involved. expert systems which helps in determining marketing alternatives and optimal strategies for producers. Lack of information at the proper time causes a huge loss to farmers. There are many ways in which Information Technology can be used to exchange the information rather effectively through communication like information kiosks which provide not only the basic services like email. helps in education. 4Technical Updates . Thus. In implementing policies to this end. In order to take the real status of agricultural production and marketing. In the context of rice processing industry the potential of information technology can be assessed broadly under two heads: (a) as a tool for direct contribution to rice milling productivity and (b) as an indirect tool for empowering millers to take informed and quality decisions which will have positive impact on the way rice processing and allied activities are conducted. The techniques of remote sensing using satellite technologies. the size of cultivated area. IT is likely to become increasingly important in innovation diffusion in agriculture. in both developed countries and in developing economies such as Sri Lanka. community services etc. Farmers or the extension personnel transmit those data via the Internet to a database server. Nevertheless.

cotton and sugarcane farmers throughout the main farming regions of Australia. a map for the total volume used within an SLA and a table for the total volume used by crop. Central and north-western Australia were not covered by the survey and therefore there are no maps available for the Northern Territory. Water. Population and Communities takes reasonable care in obtaining this information but has no direct control over.  The application volume is reported in kilograms and can vary significantly between crops. It is strongly recommended that you read this information before using the database. What data are available? The estimated use of each chemical is presented in two forms. whether wholly or partly. It is the responsibility of users to make their own decisions about the accuracy. Although maps report at the scale of SLAs. The panel survey from which the data were sourced has a limited coverage and therefore the database does not provide a complete picture of all types of agricultural chemicals. upon any information presented on this database. the changes that may occur to the information.The Agricultural Chemicals Usage Database contains certain information on the agricultural chemicals used in Australia from 1997 to 2006 by broadacre farmers. reliability and completeness of information contained in this database. and of the consequence of any thing. it should be noted that:  Figures mapped are based on the estimated total volume applied within the SLA and have then been grouped into ranges to create the colour key for the map. Land within each SLA may have diverse uses and therefore the farming areas to which a . The database allows governments. the content or accuracy of the information. Environment. currency. Environment. The data were analysed to estimate the total volume of the active ingredient applied in regions known as statistical local areas (SLAs) as used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Water. Water. The Department of Sustainability. done or omitted to be done by any such person in reliance. exact figures for each SLA cannot be provided. Population and Communities. Based on the limits of the data. chemical users and the community to view trends in the usage of chemicals over an entire decade. When viewing the maps. Estimates of the total volumes by crop were calculated from the same survey data. The data were collected quarterly through surveys to report the use of agricultural chemicals (mainly herbicides) by a representative sample of broadacre. Important information about the limitations and interpretation of the data are below. nor does it accept responsibility for.  Search the Agricultural Chemical Usage Database How were the data collected and processed? This database contains information from sources that are external to the Department of Sustainability. The focus is mainly on herbicides and is limited to broadacre crops. it is important to note that this does not imply all land in the SLA was treated. Environment. or the security arrangements applying to the information. Population and Communities disclaims all liability to any person in respect of any thing. The Department of Sustainability.

application to fallow has been listed as a separate crop.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/1216. Accordingly one may not query the database for all combinations of variables: data are only available for certain set combinations. In addition.   The data are displayed to three decimal places as a result of calculation and estimation methods. The estimated total volume applied by crop type is tabulated.gov.0) on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website -www. where an active ingredient was applied pre-seeding or to fallow. Prior to 2003. There are a limited number of combinations for the search results as the data in the database were constrained by the manner in which the survey data were designed and reported. By year or aggregated years using pull-down menus. Further information on SLAs may be found in the Australian Standard of Geographical Classification (number 1216. The search criteria must be entered in the order they appear on the screen. the maps should not be assumed to indicate that the chemical was in use in the earlier years. the application to fallow has also been included in the totals. This is of particular importance to note when new chemicals were approved mid-way through the period. it should be noted that:  As the database aims to show the total volume of each chemical that was applied to the environment. it should not be assumed that data were available for the active ingredient for every year or that the application occurred at the reported volume every year. the use has been attributed to the crop that was later sown or the main crop bordered by the fallow. How can the database be searched? To search the database you are required to specify both the year or aggregated years and a chemical. however the whole SLA will be coloured. See the 2002 and 2003 versions in the Past and Future Releases tab for the relevant maps used in this database.   If making comparisons on chemical usage between maps. SLAs are not all the same size or composition.   The percentage use figures have been rounded so that the total of all percentages may not be exactly 100 per cent. and one cannot query the database on other combinations of years. Only two options are available based changes to the survey between 2002 and 2003. It should not be assumed that the data are accurate to this level as all figures are estimates. please note that the scale of the map and colour key varies significantly across years and chemicals. The average annual use was calculated using the data that were available in the aggregated year block. The database can be searched to return .abs. The 'Other' crops are the sum of all crops which used less than one per cent of the total.. This information is the annual total volume of the active ingredient used in Australia or the entire chosen state for the year/aggregated years. From 2003. aggregates are only available for the periods 1997-2002 and 2003-2006. It should not be assumed that data were available for the active ingredient in every year or that the listed volume was applied to that crop every year within the block.02002?OpenDocument. When reading the table. Therefore. 1. The average total application for aggregated years is calculated as an average of the years for which data were available.chemical was applied may only be a small part of the SLA.

Check the product label to ensure you have the name of the active ingredient. the chemicals with available data are listed. Chemicals are listed by active ingredient. By state using a pull-down menu. To view this list either type the first few letters of the chemical of interest or click on the magnifying glass symbol to retrieve the complete list and find the chemical name. When the year or aggregated years is selected.results for an individual year or average results for aggregated groups of years 1997-2002 and 20032006. If no choice is made the search will return results for the whole of Australia. If you cannot find a specific chemical it may be because you are looking for the brand name. By chemical name using text or using the search button. 3. This is optional. 2. .

A computational system is under development which is able to monitor pig sounds by microphones installed in the farm. An example of invisible defect is the watercore. and which is also able to discriminate among the different sounds that can be detected. It consists in the application of data mining techniques to agriculture. their coughs can be studied. This is an internal apple disorder that can affect the longevity of the fruit. because sick animals can cause contaminations. Sounds issued by pigs can be analyzed for the detection of diseases. Moreover. apples are checked and the ones showing some defects are removed. Apples with slight or mild watercores are sweeter.[3] Note that these works are different from the ones where a classification of different kinds of wine is performed. The fermentation process of the wine is very important. there are also invisible defects. for example.[2] and a technique for classification based on the concept of biclustering. because they indicate their sickness. [edit]Detection of diseases from sounds issued by animals The detection of animal's diseases in farms can impact positively the productivity of the farm. a few fruits with severe watercore could spoil a whole batch of apples. However. [1] A related. a computational system is under study which takes X-ray photographs of the fruit while they run on conveyor belts.[5] . For this reason. because it can impact the productivity of wine-related industries and also the quality of wine. but not equivalent term is precision agriculture. the k-means algorithm.Data mining in agriculture From Wikipedia. but apples with moderate to sever degree of watercore cannot be stored for any length of time. Recent technologies are nowadays able to provide a lot of information on agricultural-related activities.[4] [edit]Sorting apples by watercores Before going to market. that can spoil the apple flavor and look. See the wiki page Classification of wine for more details. Moreover. the free encyclopedia Data mining in agriculture is a very recent research topic. which can then be analyzed in order to find important information. and which is also able to analyse (by data mining techniques) the taken pictures and estimate the probability that the fruit contains watercores. In particular. If we were able to predict how the fermentation is going to be at the early stages of the process. such as. Applications : Prediction of problematic wine fermentations Wine is widely produced all around the world. we could interfere with the process in order to guarantee a regular and smooth fermentation. Fermentations are nowadays studied by using different techniques. the early detection of the diseases can allow the farmer to cure the animal as soon as the disease appears.

By data mining the cotton Pest Scouting data along with the meteorological recordings it was shown that how pesticide usage can be optimized (reduced). Hence excessive use (or abuse) of pesticides is harming the farmers with adverse financial. thus requiring an Agriculture Data Warehouse. environmental and social impacts. agriculture and metrological data for decades. such as pesticides sprayed at the wrong time. and growing.[7] [edit] . These studies have reported a negative correlation between pesticide usage and crop yield in Pakistan.5 million records. Creating a novel Pilot Agriculture Extension Data Warehouse followed by analysis through querying and data mining some interesting discoveries were made. The primary agro-met data recorded has never been digitized. Coarse estimates of just the cotton pest scouting data recorded stands at around 1. integrated or standardized to give a complete picture. wrong pesticides used for the right reasons and temporal relationship between pesticide usage and day of the week. and hence cannot support decision making.[edit]Optimizing pesticide usage by data mining Recent studies by agriculture researchers in Pakistan (one of the top four cotton producers of the world) showed that attempts of cotton crop yield maximization through pro-pesticide state policies have led to a dangerously high pesticide usage. different government departments and agencies in Pakistan have been recording pest scouting.[6] [edit]Explaining pesticide abuse by data mining To monitor cotton growth. Clustering of data revealed interesting patterns of farmer practices along with pesticide usage dynamics and hence help identify the reasons for this pesticide abuse.