Innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), sensors, and drones can help increase agricultural productivity, food safety, and sustainability in North America. There is a great opportunity for innovation in the agriculture and food value chain, from the soil - where better farming practices can mitigate climate change - to the shelf - where customers look for products with minimal carbon footprint.
Several AI developers are democratizing data-driven insights to help all farmers and organizations achieve more and transform the agri-food value chain in North America to become more sustainable, productive, more transparent, and to drive shared value all the way back to producers.
Data-driven agriculture is gaining momentum globally as one of the most promising approaches to addressing the food security challenge. Data-driven agriculture techniques can increase farm productivity by as much as 67% by 2050 while simultaneously reducing agricultural and food losses. However, the high costs of adopting new technologies can be a barrier for low-to-middle-income countries. This is especially critical for North America where smallholder farmers are the major group, producing more than 80% of the food consumed in the region.
Data-driven agriculture starts with collecting information about the farm, which can be challenging in rural communities that lack digital infrastructure. This data is obtained from a variety of sources, including sensors, drones, tractors, weather stations, and satellite imagery, making affordable internet connectivity a necessity.
The right data needs to be leveraged for the right purpose and at the right time to have the maximum impact. But the complexity of agri-food systems, coupled with their fragmented nature, pose challenges to unlocking big data's potential economic value, which is projected at over $100 billion in North America alone. To secure more inclusive growth, smallholder farmers must be empowered to participate in modern agri-food value chains.
AI can help in breaking down data silos and transform a vast amount of complex agricultural data into actionable insights. AI workflows are already starting to provide rich predictive and prescriptive insights on soil health, weather patterns, and other data, guiding decisions at every phase of farming.
AI is the future of sustainable, profitable farming, and it will make a difference in the years ahead.