Technological advancements have been changing the way that farmers run their operations over the past decade. The systems that are used are becoming more streamlined and productivity increased.
South Africa’s agricultural sector is dominated by large commercial farms that are able to financially access many of the latest agricultural technologies. There are also new innovations in South Africa and the rest of the continent that are aimed at assisting small scale farmers.
Understanding how these new innovations and technologies can assist you in the running of your farm is a great start to increasing productivity and profits.
A start up in Cape Town has been making headlines with its new agricultural technology. The company, Aerobotics, is centred on modified drones that fly over orchards and identify trees that are showing signs of disease. Farmers are then able to address the problem and prevent the disease from spreading.
The company is also able to offer a few other services that all use imagery collected by the drones.
Reading the Soil
Understanding the health of the soil allows farmers to better attend to the health of their plants and there are technologies that have been created on the continent that do this for farmers.
Zenvus is a device with a probe that goes into the soil, analyses it and provides useful data such as the pH balance.
Ujuzikilimo is another company that analyses soil data. The model that this company uses, however, is one that takes inspiration from the shared economy. You contact the holder of the device who goes to your farm, reads the soil and sends that information to you for a fee making it a more affordable option.
While the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) is driving new agricultural technologies, the potential for profit that exists in this area has seen a lot of the research and innovation take place in the private sector.
The private sector is also playing a role in pushing innovations in this sector. Small local companies understand the potential that exists in the agricultural technology industry. Anything from bio-pesticides to new crop propagation or post-harvest technologies will be valuable.
The agricultural technologies that are particularly noteworthy are those that consider the sustainability of agriculture. South Africa is experiencing the repercussions of climate change on a grander scale than before and understanding how we can sustainably increase production is vital.
With unemployment being what it is in South Africa, having access to technologies that can improve your farm and make it a viable business is an important way to generate job opportunities in the country.
As new innovation gets adopted by large-scale farms that use economies of scale, some small-scale farmers might be prevented from being competitive. There has to, therefore, be careful attention paid to keeping a balance so that these smaller farmers aren’t locked out of the new systems.
These technologies should be of benefit to a larger number of people, increase integration and give the opportunity for reducing the economic gap in the country if they are really going to be useful for the agricultural industry.
The technologies and innovation in this industry have, however, created the room for entrepreneurial people to build strong businesses on multiple points in the supply chain.
By Anthea Taylor, Assistant Editor at Dynamis and writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com as well as other industry publications.