You might think that all you need for success in the farming industry is a good pair of hands and the ability to work long hours. But it turns out that the industry is changing – fast.
Agriculture isn’t about getting your hands dirty or family life anymore – although that’s often how it’s portrayed on television. It’s rather like any other industry right now – ripe for disruption and offering fabulous career opportunities to people with the right skills.
Just what are those skills, by the way? Let’s take a look at the unexpected skill you’ll need if you want to go far in the industry.
The digitization of the economy knows no boundaries. Even farming is going to be disrupted beyond recognition by a plethora of new technologies related to the digital economy, just as the power and electric revolution transformed it during the 20th century.
What technologies are farmers going to have to start using? Well, consider first the need to reduce distance-to-market of crops to reduce transportation costs and global greenhouse emissions. Currently, food suppliers have to import produce from countries halfway across the world to get certain foods out of season. But today the technology already exists to produce virtually every kind of crop all year round, right on your doorstep.
Consider Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal. Kimbal is currently working on a farming project where crops are grown in shipping containers using LED lights. It might not sound like a good idea, but Kimbal has made sure that he’s used all of the volumes in the containers. Crops, like herbs and greens, are layered in rows, one on top of the other, using all of the available space. Nutrients get pumped through the roots using a special fluid, and it can produce vegetables locally all year around.
The tech skills involved in a project like this are extraordinary. Sure, you need to know how to set up the container in the first place, but you also have to understand the computer systems behind a lot of the automated feeding lighting that goes on in the containers too.
There’s a need for people with other tech skills too, as pointed out by HansenAgriplacement. Farming businesses need research scientists to help them develop new kinds of crops that not only offer better nutrition, but also higher yield, especially in marginal lands. Freshwater depletion is currently a significant issue in the world of farming, and so there’s a need for crops that can produce excellent yield, but without taking up so much water.
With the fall in the price of sensors over the last decade, many businesses are now looking at opportunities for measuring things like soil moisture levels, light levels, and nutrient levels. These sensors then link to software back at farm HQ, giving farmers an overview of the state of their crops. Firms need people, therefore, who can develop the systems for integrating crop data with software so that farmers have a clear idea of where and when they need to tend to their produce.
Are you thinking about getting into agribusiness?