As always, the agricultural industry is ever-evolving, with new and dynamic changes dominating the market as each year passes. 2018 has brought many changes to the market, most of which have centered around technology and the like, and as individuals involved in the field of agriculture, we must stay afloat of these changes if we are to succeed. Here is a summary of the top 7 trends that agriculture has experienced this year:

1. IT

Information technology has taken the world by storm and agriculture is no exception. 2018 has seen the integration of Big Data into agriculture, computerizing the decision-making process. This has, amongst other things, played a very important role in enhancing the quality of decisions regarding profit, productivity, and demand. With the introduction of cutting-edge technologies such as the blockchain, IT promises to be an invaluable asset to the world of agriculture.

Here is an example of the synthesis between IT and the agricultural sector:

2. Innovation in Packaging

In an attempt to minimize costs and maximize profits, there has also been a new wave of innovations in packaging. With the use of revolutionary packaging techniques and unique packaging material, several companies have succeeded in increasing efficiency via using packaging that increases shelf life. Additionally, the emphasis on sustainability is also shifting markets towards opting for biodegradable and environment-friendly options, both of which are now beginning to influence consumer choice, as new research continues to show.

3. Evolving Biotechnology

Research in biotechnology and plant genomics has also led to various options that enhance the quality and features of seeds, particularly with regard to heat-resistance. Biotechnology is also aiding in creating new plant and vegetable varieties, using revolutionary research and market dynamics to cater better to public demand.

4. Environmentalism and Sustainability

Adding to rising regulations on carbon emissions, there is an increasing emphasis on sustainable and environment-friendly agriculture. With the rise of immense resource scarcity, particularly in the global south, many environmentalists are calling upon the agricultural sector to work towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and their carbon footprint. As the recent Paris Climate Accords show, it is not long before irresponsible agriculture is penalized.

Here is an informative TED Talk on why sustainability in farming is important:

5. RFID Sensors

The advent of RFID sensors in agriculture stems from the rising demand for organic and untreated produce; while this trend is particularly significant in the fruit and vegetable sector, it is also becoming a norm in the meat sector. RFID sensors track food from the field to the store, giving users information about each process the food went through as well as its origins. This can be important in terms of reducing the outbreak of harmful bacteria as well since the source of each will be easily locatable.

6. Machine Learning

While this trend is far from mature, it is still a consideration for companies who tend to stay ahead of the curve. Machine learning and artificial intelligence is perhaps a successor to the IT revolution, particularly given the fact that both processes are known to drastically increase profits. Watch this video by the Berkeley School of Information to learn more about AI in agriculture:

7. Resource Scarcity

As mentioned previously, resource scarcity is a looming issue for the agricultural sector across the world. With global warming, climate change, droughts, and excessive water-usage, agriculturalists are finding it immensely difficult to find resources for their products. Alternative sources for energy and growth are being developed, but these are far from being viable.

The technology essentially dominates the world of agriculture in 2018, especially given how fast it is developing. This optimism, however, is marred by rising concerns about the environment which must be addressed. Here’s to hoping that technology can be the solution what many believe to be impending threats to the industry.