Sustainable Farming and the Cloud: Here’s What You Need to Know

Sustainable Farming and the Cloud: Here’s What You Need to Know

March 15, 2019 0 By Hoofer

Written by Sam Bowman

Imagine a world with less pollution, fewer pesticides, and a more hopeful future when it comes to global warming. Thanks to the companies and farmers that are dedicated to sustainable agriculture, that future is possible. In fact, there are several benefits we can look forward to thanks to sustainable agriculture. Overall, farms will be productive for the next generations, giving our children (and their children) the future we want for them.

Sustainable farming, also referred to as sustainable agriculture, is a multifaceted idea that takes many different elements into consideration. On top of being healthier for the environment, sustainable farms are also profitable and can contribute to the economy. There’s a social factor, too; sustainable farming treats workers fairly and is just as beneficial for the community as for the farm itself.

The U.S. has a number of research centers, services, and educational programs dedicated to sustainable agriculture. The industry is also harnessing the power of data and the cloud to gather information and optimize processes. By knowing more about soil, plants, machinery and the weather, farmers have the means to monitor their farms, prevent problems (or at least solve them quickly), and increase both productivity and profitability.

Sustainable Agriculture and the Cloud

Farmers are being proactive when it comes to sustainability. For example, many of them are now building or utilizing sustainable barns. However, there’s a lot of control that farmers have always had to give up: They can’t predict weather patterns or precipitation, and they’re often at the mercy of the seasons. New technology is helping farmers learn more, predict more accurately, and make better decisions that may preserve the health of their farms for the long term.

How Cloud Computing Is Used in the Farming Industry

  • Cloud computing collects data from satellite images, soil sensors, and weather stations, giving farmers more information that they can use to manage their farms. For example, when there’s been a better-than-normal yield, data can show the condition of the air, soil and water during that time. Farmers can then try to replicate those conditions to improve production.
  • Data – such as conditions of groundwater, nutrient levels of soil, and biometric information from sensors that show when an animal is sick – is processed in a timely manner, allowing farmers to take action immediately and get the most out of their current growing season.
  • Predictive data can alert farmers to potential problems, giving them the power to prevent issues or create ways to manage them. For example, irrigation data can tell the farmer if their soil is too wet or dry to grow healthy plants.

There are many tools out there for farmers to use. For example, SmartFarm is a low-cost option for farmers who want a better way to automate their processes. Sensors monitor things like nutrient movement, moisture, and soil conditions. That data is sent to the cloud and combined with information about the weather, as well as satellite images. Farmers can then use the SmartFarm app to view all of this information.

Farming Companies That Are Using the Cloud

Businesses today are under a lot of pressure to be eco-conscious. Consumers want brands to create goals focused on sustainability and to stand for major issues like climate change. Several farming companies, both big names and smaller startups, are using the cloud to meet those demands and to improve both their practices and yields.

  • The Farmers Business Network in California created an Amazon cloud-based platform that compares participating farms to set benchmarks for performance and to make market pricing more transparent.
  • Growing Underground, a farming startup in the U.K., has created farms underneath the train station in London. In order to keep an eye on their yields and know about problems right away, technology monitors the urban farms and sends reports to the cloud.
  • John Deere’s Operations Center utilizes cloud-based software to stay on top of how their farm vehicles perform. When a problem occurs, they know about it immediately and can start fixing it.
  • Land O’Lakes uses Google Cloud Platform and Google Maps to visualize their farms and accurately pinpoint the areas that need more attention.

While sustainability isn’t necessarily a new idea, it has picked up speed over the last two decades. The 2000s brought in a new wave of conscious consumers, and companies began churning out sustainability reports to showcase how they performed environmentally and socially. Technology and cloud-based platforms are changing how businesses of all kinds operate. When it comes to sustainable business, especially in agriculture, the cloud is putting a ton of power in the hands of farmers. Sustainable food production impacts all of us. Cloud technology is paving the path to a more hopeful future.

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About the Author

Sam Bowman is a freelance writer and techie who enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Credit Image Source : Unsplash