Following the introduction of mineral fertiliser, mechanisation and the industrialisation of the production process, digital agriculture brings the next major movement. It is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Digital agriculture refers to the use of agricultural technology (AgriTech) and data-driven innovations to predict outcomes and guide the producer through every phase of operations on the farm. There are many benefits:
- Digitising your fields enables you to tailor inputs (fertiliser, herbicides etc) accordingly. Yields are thus improved, and the more precise use of inputs dramatically reduces costs. For now it is per zone in the field: anticipations are that the precision will eventually shift to individual plants (Gagliordi, 2018)!
- There are obvious environmental benefits resulting from the judicious application of inputs like fertiliser, fuel, chemicals because of a new production system with its new tools (Blackmore, 2018).
- Livestock can be scanned and an eye kept on movement and behaviour. The captured data is analysed by artificial intelligence (AI), enabling the appropriate interventions to be made.
- The smarter use of inputs and decision-making made possible also helps the farmer deal with increasingly narrow margins.
- It provides help with labour issues, be this labour availability or reliability
- Digital agriculture helps with fluctuating and unpredictable weather patterns.
- There is better market access and biosecurity (Heath, quoted by Hine, 2019)
- It is hoped that the technological advances might be attractive to young people and draw them into the sector.
- As nearly every source on digital agriculture will mention, the aim of feeding the projected increase in planet population looks more attainable.
Some of the tools for digital agriculture are outlined in the following headings.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Global Positioning System (GPS)
Internet of things (IoT)
Three Dimensional Printing (3D)
Smallholder farmer points of interest
International business environment
Local business environment
National strategy & government contact
Websites & publications
Robots automate tasks that lack appeal to human beings, but also tasks like planting, weeding and manufacturing.
- Schroeder E. 2020, August 26. “World’s largest agri robot being tested in the US”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/world/worlds-largest-agri-robot-being-tested-in-the-us/
- Faby J. 2020, March 2.”‘With these robots, we can achieve a very uniform, attractive pattern'”. Fresh Plaza. Available at www.freshplaza.com/article/9194261/with-these-robots-we-can-achieve-a-very-uniform-attractive-pattern/
- Van Rooyen C. 2020 January 17. “‘n Robot wat skape kan skeer …” [a robot that can shear sheep]. Landbouweekblad. Available at www.netwerk24.com/landbou/Bedrywe/Tegnologie/n-robot-wat-skape-kan-skeer-20200117
- Paquette, D. 2019, February 17. “Farmworker vs Robot”. The Washington Post. Available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/national/wp/2019/02/17/feature/inside-the-race-to-replace-farmworkers-with-robots/
- Doward, J. 2019, February 17. “Virtual fences, robot workers, stacked crops: farming in 2040”. The Guardian. Available at www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/17/robots-future-farming
- Simon, M. 2017, November 20. “The Hydroponic, Robotic Future of Farming in Greenhouses”. WIRED. Available at www.wired.com/story/the-hydroponic-robotic-future-of-farming-in-greenhouses-at-iron-ox/
- Find the video “Robot Farm to Harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce daily” on Youtube.
A shortened form of “application software”, an app is a computer programme designed to run on cell phones and tablets. There are now billions of apps available including several thousand agriculture-related ones.
Apps can work with other technology, like probes inserted into the soil to let you know what the groundwater level is. Apps can identify major pests and diseases in crops, help plan fertiliser applications and meet soil nutrient needs, give you access to operator manuals and materials from training courses etc. Crop outlook and weather/climate apps can assist farmers, insurance companies and government departments to anticipate unfavourable conditions. They can also determine problem areas, scale of damage and appropriate disaster management interventions.
Some role players:
- Companies providing inputs (e.g. irrigation, grain storage and handling) supply apps for digital agriculture. Popular apps include My New Holland, Cropalyser, Just In Time Nutrient Calculator, PANNAR Sprout and AgDNA.
- Agrigate One www.agrigateone.com
- Atone Works, https://agri5.co.za
- Farmers Assistant App www.facebook.com/FarmerAssistantApp
- Khula www.khula.co.za Sell your vegetables
- Kriel G. 2020, September 3. “An app for every farming task”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/farm-basics/how-to-business/an-app-for-every-farming-task/
- Hopkins M. 2020, May 27. “20 Agriculture Apps You Should Know in 2020 and Beyond”. CropLife. Available at www.croplife.com/editorial/matt-hopkins/20-agriculture-apps-you-should-know-in-2020-and-beyond/
- Booysen, J. 2019, June 16. “Local app helps farmers protect their livestock”. IOL. Available at www.iol.co.za/business-report/economy/local-app-helps-farmers-protect-their-livestock-26131747
- Staff Writer. 2018, October 17. “Farming App that Helps Emerging Black Farmers is SA’s Best Business App”. SME South Africa. Available at https://smesouthafrica.co.za/khula-app-farming-mtn-business-awards
- Kriel, G. 2018, February 23. “The app: a new line of defence”. Farmer’s Weekly, page 34-35.
- The ‘AgriCloud’ App, a mobile phone planting application, is an output of Rain for Africa (R4A) (see the “Weather & climate” page). It is aimed at addressing gaps in information available to small scale farmers. Read the Parliamentary Monitoring Group account of its presentation at https://pmg.org.za/committee-meeting/26991/
- Uys, G. 2017, August 9. “4 useful phone apps and technology for herd management”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-technology/farming-for-tomorrow/4-useful-phone-apps-technology-herd-management/
- Educate24. 2016, September 19. “6 Farming Apps For Small Scale And Emerging Farmers”. Available at www.educate24.co.za/e24/library/agriculture/6-farming-apps-for-small-scale-and-emerging-farmers/527
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Digital technologies are fundamental to artificial intelligence (Hine, 2019). AI looks across a farmer’s operations, analyses data – soil composition, weather, moisture, temperature etc – and provides insight on how to optimise resources and equipment.
AI can advise on matters like early treatment to combat mastitis in dairy cattle (a result of interpreting data from thermal imaging cameras) or let the owner know on the best time to sell cattle after measuring the weight and muscle mass of cattle (through 3D cameras). It can watch the movement of thousands of chickens and analyse behaviour to identify possible problems, or use microphones above pig pens to monitor conditions.
This degree of monitoring makes agricultural operations are more profitable.
- Russell M. 2020, February 26. “The new microscope device putting pest and disease detections back in the hands of farmers”. Fresh Plaza. Available at www.freshplaza.com/article/9193412/the-new-microscope-device-putting-pest-and-disease-detections-back-in-the-hands-of-farmers/
- Koeleman, E. 2018, September 10. “Microsoft: ‘Great potential for AI in agriculture'”. Future Farming. Available at www.futurefarming.com/Smart-farmers/Articles/2018/9/Microsoft-Great-potential-for-AI-in-agriculture-331961E/
Tractors being driven from a laptop is not new, but some tractor models do not even have a seat for a driver now! The Autonomous Farm Equipment Market size was valued at over USD 55 billion in 2016 and its demand projected to cross 3 million units by 2024 (See http://bit.ly/2FDkPyN).
- Gagliordi, N. 2018, December 12. “How self-driving tractors, AI, and precision agriculture will save us from the impending food crisis”. Tech Republic. Available at https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-self-driving-tractors-ai-and-precision-agriculture-will-save-us-from-the-impending-food-crisis/
- 2018, August 31. “Bear Flag Robotics’ New Autonomous Tractor”. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mEzr8HOlOE
- 2018, August 9. “Yes, you can build your own autonomous tractor”. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Odgnn1aYjKI
- CNH Industrial. 2016, August 30. “The CNH Industrial Autonomous Tractor Concept (Full Version)”. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7Os5Okf3OQ
- 2016, August 30. “Case IH Autonomous Concept Tractor”. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8yChqU4mBE
- “Automation is the future of farming. We’re currently at a stage where farm machinery has got to unsustainable sizes”. Find the article “Future of farming? Driverless tractors and drones attempt to grow crops without humans setting foot on the land in a world first” on www.dailymail.co.uk.
Data has become a valuable global commodity. But it is much more than simply information: in expert hands, it is intelligence.
Already, analysts are finding ways to turn big data — the immense stocks of information collected in computers worldwide — into an invaluable resource for planning and decision-making. It is helping accelerate the development of robust responses to some of the most pressing challenges of our time: climate change/variability, food insecurity and malnutrition, and environmental degradation. It is transforming the world of genomics and crop breeding and revolutionizing disciplines from climate modelling to agronomy.
- Botha L. 2020, October 4. “Is data the new soil in agri?” Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-technology/farming-for-tomorrow/is-data-the-new-soil-in-agri/
Blockchain “has the potential to usher in an era of autonomous digital commerce” (Lemmer, 2019). According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), blockchains have been applied to areas like (i) Overseeing farm inventory (ii) Managing land records (iii) Enhancing agricultural supply chains (iv) Fair pricing (v) Mobile remittance for small farmers (vi) AgTech IoT Optimisation (vii) Fair Pricing, and (viii) Managing and modernizing farm management software.
On its website, find FAO (and partners) documents which include:
- Emerging Opportunities for the Application of Blockchain in the Agri-food Industry
- E-agriculture in action: Blockchain for agriculture
- How can blockchain’s general architecture enhance trade facilitation in agricultural supply chains?
- Find the FAO page on blockchains at http://www.fao.org/e-agriculture/news/focus-blockchain-agriculture
- Saba. 2020, January 17. “The Future of Blockchain Adoption”. B Mag. Available at https://bmag.io/2020/01/17/the-future-of-blockchain-adoption/
- FAO. 2019. Pig farmers in Papua New Guinea capitalize on blockchain technology. Available from http://www.fao.org/in-action/pig-farmers-in-papua-new-guinea/en/
- Reporter. 2019, November 28. “Blockchain, driven by IoT, can save food industry $31bn by 2024”. BizCommunity. Available at www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/168/198420.html
- Fredericks R. 2019, September 25. “#FoodNextAfrica: Blockchain will simplify and transform supply chain traceability”. Bizcommunity. Available at www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/741/195840.html
- Strothkaemper A. 2018, October 9. “Blockchain: Farm To Consumer Is A Journey Of Trust”. Consumer Goods Technology (CGT). Available at https://consumergoods.com/blockchain-farm-consumer-journey-trust
- Avenews-GT. 2018, July 29. “Blockchain: the future of agricultural trade”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/opinion/by-invitation/blockchain-future-agricultural-trade/
Internet of things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) is tangible for today’s farmers. All the data, be it from sensor or satellite, feeds into cell phone apps or software and a communication between farm equipment (machines, implements, infrastructure etc) occurs. Every part knows where it stands in relation to the other parts. And so, for example, it is easier to prevent row overlap when running multiple machines at the same time.
- Shields, P. 2019, May 4. “OPINION: Resolving IoT fragmentation to realise business value”. Business Report. Available from www.iol.co.za/business-report/companies/opinion-resolving-iot-fragmentation-to-realise-business-value-22360361
- Find the Smart Agriculture Market Assessment which gives particular attention to telecoms and the IoT at www.huawei.com/-/media/CORPORATE/Images/PDF/v2-smart-agriculture-0517.pdf
See precision farming page.
The use of satellites has changed the world and how information is passed on. Apart from the bird’s-eye advantage, there is no need to roll out infrastructure in rural (and urban) areas which requires maintenance and which can go missing. The always-on status offers confidence.
Data from satellites is used to estimate crop yields, but can also indicate crop health and maturity. This allows for early warnings for crop failure and famine.
Land is mapped digitally and in very helpful details, without the services of cartographer required. Satellite information can be combined with data obtained from drones/UAVs and sensors to sharpen the accuracy and usefulness of the information.
This makes smart irrigation and precision farming possible.
- ESA Earth Online, available from https://earth.esa.int/web/guest/earth-topics/agriculture
Sensors monitor and measure conditions and provide data, be it for soil or weather conditions, movement amongst livestock or even how full a distant water crib is. A crop may require more water or fertiliser in a particular part of the field, or a cow may spend less time sitting down because it is on heat and requires a bull, for example. A planter using AI from a sensor to understand the ground conditions and alter planting settings automatically is envisioned in the near future (Gagliordi, 2018).
Sensors are “the Digital Nervous System of the Internet of Things” (Purnell, 2016).
- Nturambirwe JFI & Opara U. 2020, January 28. “How sensors and big data can help cut food wastage”. The Conversation. Available at https://theconversation.com/how-sensors-and-big-data-can-help-cut-food-wastage-128563
Various software is available for the farmer, ranging from financial programmes to administration and management programmes. These cover the different types of livestock, crops and functions on the farm. The latter includes irrigation scheduling, fertilisation, tank control within a cellar (wine), packhouse control, payroll software. Programmes can monitor weather elements, soil moisture, pests and diseases, vehicles and fuel consumption etc.
The advantages of software include:
- An efficient, tidy tool for record keeping
- less time spent on administration
- quick and easy query resolutions, and thus better decision-making
- analysis and summaries of costs and production and what still needs to be done
- better yields and quality
In addition to being an enhanced information and decision making tool for the farm, it also becomes an invaluable way of bridging the space between producer and market. Traceability – the requirement of being able to track the field or animal from where a product came – makes software crucial.
- Agri-Hub www.agrihub.co.za An alliance between fruit industry bodies and software solution providers to service fruit industry needs
- Akasha Irrigation Management http://akashairrigation.co.za
- Aquacheck www.aquacheck.co.za
- CanePro www.sqrsoftware.co.za Sugarcane management software
- DFM Technologies https://dfmtechnologies.co.za See the DFM business listing.
- Donkerhoek Data www.donkerhoekdata.co.za
- EnviroMon www.enviromon.co.za
- Farm Costing Solutions Tel: 021 556 2561 www.farmcostingsolutions.co.za
- FARMS Tel: 051 401 3109 www.ufs.ac.za Several technical farm components (e.g. mechanisation, irrigation, labour) can be evaluated using the FARMS programme, offered by the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of the Free State.
- First 4 farming www.f4f.com
- HOTGROUP www.hotgroup.co.za
- Key Business Solutions www.keybs.co.za
- LPF Systems www.lpfsystems.com
- Manstrat Development Strategists www.manstrat.co.za
- Matrix Software https://matrixsoftware.co.za Software for the different food and meat processing sectors
- Maxi Control www.maxicontrol.co.za
- MEATMAN www.meatmanager.co.za For butchers
- Muddy Boots Software https://en.muddyboots.com
- MySmartFarm https://mysmart.farm
- Plan-A-Head Software www.planahead.co.za
- Profarmer Tel: 053 298 8266 https://info.profarmer.co.za
- Software Farm www.softwarefarm.co.za
- SOURCE www.oursource.co.za
- Syspro www.syspro.com Food & Beverage sector solutions
- TechnoFresh www.technofresh.co.za Solutions for the fresh produce markets
- Traceable Tel: 079 504 1297 www.traceable.co.za
- TrioSagteware www.saboer.co.za
Many on-farm software programmes applicable to animal breeding are available for producers, combining the functionality of herd management with on-farm recording. Find details of livestock computer programme (Software) providers on the “Animal Improvement and breeders” page. Several companies offering inputs also supply accompanying software.
Three-dimensional printing (3D)
3D will be used to manufacture replacement parts for farm implements and vehicles, or, by utilising genetic research, to produce meat or other food products.
- Reuters. 2020, June 30. “Coming soon to a 3D printer near you: Plant-based steaks”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2020/06/30/coming-soon-to-a-3d-printer-near-you-plant-based-steaks
- Diamandis P. 2019, October 20. “How 3D Printing, Vertical Farming, and Materials Science Are Overhauling Food”. SingularityHub. Available at https://singularityhub.com/2019/10/20/the-technologies-changing-how-we-grow-distribute-and-consume-food/
- Boffey, D. 2019, June 29. “Plan to sell 50m meals made from electricity, water and air”. The Guardian. Available at www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/29/plan-to-sell-50m-meals-electricity-water-air-solar-foods
Smallholder farmer points of interest
The TEDx Talk "Digital Agriculture Transforming Farmers’ Lives" (2018) discusses digital agriculture from a small-scale farmer perspective in Africa.
Some articles and points of interest:
- The app Hello Tractor, that connects tractor owners to farmers, could transform productivity and improve food security and incomes. See https://agra.org/news/africa-has-an-uber-opportunity-to-disrupt-farming-technology/
- Reporter. 2019, July 11. “How digital technologies can help Africa’s smallholder farmers”. The Conversation. Available at https://theconversation.com/how-digital-technologies-can-help-africas-smallholder-farmers-119952
- Rangongo, T. 2019, May 16. “Digitising small-scale farming”. Fin24. Available at www.fin24.com/Finweek/Entrepreneurs/digitising-small-scale-farming-20190516
- Ogema, NM. 2019, April 15. “Smallholders benefitting from digitised agriculture”. BizCommunity. Available at www.bizcommunity.ug/Article/220/358/189770.html
- Ajit M, Berne D, De Beer J, Ballantyne P et al. 2018. Digital and Data-Driven Agriculture: Harnessing the Power of Data for Smallholders. Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR); Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN); Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). Available at www.gfar.net/documents/digital-and-data-driven-agriculture-harnessing-power-data-smallholders
- Malan, N. 2018, December 9. “The new agriculture and developing emerging farmers: Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. Daily Maverick. Available at www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-12-09-the-new-agriculture-and-developing-emerging-farmers-harnessing-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/
- Rose, G (ed). 2015. African Farmers in the Digital Age: Overcoming isolation, speeding up change, and taking success to scale. Foreign Affairs. Available from https://files.foreignaffairs.com/pdf/sponsored-anthology/2016/african_farmers_in_the_digital_age_final.pdf
International business environment
Opportunity or threat? Digital agriculture is disruptive to the big industry manufacturers and their business model of the past 50-60 years (Blackmore, 2018). It is small start-up companies with no investment in the past that are driving the experimentation in new technology, specifically new machines.
EY states that “As technical advancements in equipment and inputs slow, companies will need increasingly to compete on digital strategy”. See www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/EY-Performance-digital-agriculture/$File/EY-Performance-digital-agriculture.pdf
Workers in all countries are likely to be negatively affected by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and how countries and their workforces adapt to the changes in skills sets will increasingly influence national narratives (Hlatswayo, 2018; Ngcwangu, 2019).
Some role players:
- Accenture Digital Agriculture Service www.accenture.com/za-en/insight-accenture-digital-agriculture-solutions
- Agribotix https://agribotix.com/ Agribotix processes and analyses agricultural data gathered by drones
- Agrobot Robotic Harvesters http://agrobot.com/ Robotic strawberry harvesters (Watch “Agrobot” on YouTube)
- Bayer www.bayer.com/en/digital-farming-smart-fields.aspx
- Blue River Technology (John Deere) www.bluerivertechnology.com/
- Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) www.weforum.org/centre-for-the-fourth-industrial-revolution
- Take a look at the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture at https://bigdata.cgiar.org
- Climate Corporation, https://climate.com, “Digital agriculture’s leading farm software platform”
- CNH Industrial www.cnhindustrial.com/en-us
- CSB-System www.csb.com/en/us/the-erp-from-the-industry-specialist/ “Everything the smart meat factory needs”
- Digital Agriculture Services (Australia) https://digitalagricultureservices.com
- Dot Technology https://seedotrun.com
- FarmBeats www.microsoft.com/en-us/garage/wall-of-fame/farmbeats/ [Microsoft’s FarmBeats Program www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTvdjcU0lf8]
- FarmERP www.farmerp.com
- Farmers Business Network (USA) www.fbn.com “an independent network of thousands of America’s most advanced farmers”
- FarmLens™, a cloud-based data analysis and reporting solution https://agribotix.com/farmlens
- FIRA – International Forum of Agricultural Robotics www.youtube.com/watch?v=l03kjzNjpWI&feature=youtu.be&t=13927
- The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) is an international conference that “focuses on central questions concerning the future of the global agri-food industry”. The subject in 2019 was “Agriculture Goes Digital – Smart Solutions for Future Farming”. See www.gffa-berlin.de/en.
- GoMicro www.gomicro.co
- Harper Adams University www.harper-adams.ac.uk
- Harvest Croo Robotics https://harvestcroo.com
- IceRobotics www.icerobotics.com data collection and analysis products for monitoring dairy cow behaviour
- Mavrx www.mavrx.co
- Nest Labs https://nest.com/
- PlanetLabs www.planet.com
- RocketFarm Robotics www.rocketfarm.no/en
- SmartThings www.smartthings.com
- SwarmFarm Robotics www.swarmfarm.com
- World Bank Group – find its report (2019) The Changing Nature of Work
- World Economic Forum www.weforum.org Read the different reports on the digital economy like “Accelerating the Impact of IoT Technologies”, “Shaping the Future of Digital Economy and Society” and “Fourth Industrial Revolution for the Earth“
- YARA www.yara.com/crop-nutrition/digital-farming/
Local business environment
- They need to identify the area in which they can remain competitive in the 4IR environment. What are your core strengths? Your future business model for your farming operation should be based on these.
- Who can you partner with upstream and downstream?
- Farmers need to know how to analyse their captured data to operate more efficiently.
- Farmers need to know how to monetise business opportunities that arise from the digital agriculture technologies.
- Agricultural companies that supply inputs and services to producers will need to have procedures in place to systematically screen, evaluate and prioritise emerging technologies.
Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD)
- The DALRRD ought to begin an information campaign to inform farmers about upcoming technologies that will change how food is produced.
Source: Wessel Lemmer in ABSA’s Agricultural Outlook Summer Edition 2019, available at www.absa.co.za/business/sector-solutions/agribusiness/agri-smart-insights.
National strategy & government contact
South Africa’s future development depends on how it masters the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). If it does not respond to the changing global environment the country can be left behind.
Manyika et al. (2017) argue that the 4IR will lead to mechanisation of about 50% of the jobs globally, enabling companies “to save billions of dollars and to create new types of jobs”. How will the use of 4IR technologies affect the country’s challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment?
Gillwald writes about 4IR assumptions that do not apply to developing countries. These include mature, competitive markets and functioning democracies, capable institutions and educated and healthy populations (Gillwald, 2019).
“The layering of advanced technologies over existing inequalities won’t contribute to digital inclusion. It will simply worsen inequality within and between nations. Ensuring broadband extension, affordable access, education and digital skills should be top priority” (Gillwald 2019).
Another local issue is data, an essential input for many 4IR technologies. Surprisingly it is the most expensive on the continent (Comins, 2018). Whereas 1GB costs R22 in Nigeria, R71 in Ghana and R98 in Tanzania, for example, South Africans pay R149 (Comins, 2018). The Competition Commission’s ordering database prices to be lowered was a welcome development at the end of 2019.
- A Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution was established in April 2019 to assist government in taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital industrial revolution. See www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/president-appoints-commission-fourth-industrial-revolution
- Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology Preparing for the 4IR is at the heart of the new draft White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)
- Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) www.doc.gov.za
- 4IRSA (Fourth Industrial Revolution South Africa) is a partnership between Telkom and the Universities of Witwatersrand, Fort Hare and Johannesburg. The partnership seeks to stimulate and facilitate an inclusive national dialogue to shape a coherent national response to the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) in South Africa. It aims to complement and support other national activities relating to 4IR, most notably the Presidential Commission on 4IR. See https://4irsa.org.
- The Industrial Development Think Tank (IDTT) supported by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) is working on a programme of research to inform a digital industrial policy framework and a policy issues paper. See www.competition.org.za/idtt/digital-industrial-policy-framework-overview.
- Department of Basic Education Read about plans to prepare for the 4IR at the 4th Industrial Revolution in South Africa at https://www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/basic-education-gears-4th-industrial-revolution
- The jurisdiction of the Competition Commission includes the price of data. In December 2019 it ruled that this was too high. Read the report at www.compcom.co.za/newsletter/data-market-inquiry/. A table showing the required deadlines to rectify the situation can be found at www.ellipsis.co.za/competition-commission-inquiry-into-data-services-market/.
- Provincial departments of agriculture like that of the Western Cape are embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution and using drones, spatial intelligence, satellite imaging and 3D printing to drive agricultural growth and development. See www.elsenburg.com/news/agriculture-embraces-fourth-industrial-revolution-cutting-edge-satellite-technology. What is your province doing?
- South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers (SAIAE) http://saiae.co.za/
- Find the associations listed on pages like “Tractors, combines and balers”, “Irrigation” and “Soils”.
Training & research
Training and upskilling for digital agriculture is crucial. Mostly the companies selling machines and technology provide training for clients and their employees. The demand for general farm workers will shrink as agricultural processes become more automated and digitalised, and the matching skills will be in demand (Kriel, 2019).
The South African Affiliate Centre of the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) is to be hosted on the CSIR campus in Pretoria by the end of 2019. The CSIR will partner with the private and public sectors to develop relevant technologies for 4IR. Its focus areas include applying technologies for improved service delivery, training the future workforce, and developing and implementing scalable 4IR infrastructure.
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Tel: 012 841 3090 email@example.com www.csir.co.za The CSIR has developed a cost-effective platform to inspect and monitor horticultural crops on local farms. See www.csir.co.za/robotic-system-horticultural-crop-monitoring-tested-western-cape-vineyards
The 4th Industrial Revolution in South Africa (4IRSA) is a partnership between Telkom and the Universities of Witwatersrand, Fort Hare and Johannesburg. See https://4irsa.org.
Find information on Ingesta Farming, a project of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Pretoria, at www.facebook.com/IngestaFarming.
- View this heading on the “Drones” and “Precision farming” pages.
- Companies providing inputs (e.g. irrigation, grain storage and handling) also supply tools for digital agriculture. Companies providing inputs (e.g. irrigation, grain storage and handling) supply tools for digital agriculture. Find their details on the relevant pages on this website.
- See companies under earlier headings “Apps” and “Software”
Websites & publications
See the earlier references on this page.
- Chapter 8 of the Africa Agriculture Status Report 2019 is “A Digital Revolution without a Digital Divide for Sub-Saharan Africa”.
- Malabo Montpellier Panel. 2019. BYTE BY BYTE: Policy Innovation for Transforming Africa’s Food System with Digital Technologies. Available at www.mamopanel.org/media/uploads/files/2019_Byte_by_Byte_Report_ONLINE.pdf
- Phillips L. 2019, October 11. “Digital revolution links fresh produce farmers and buyers”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-business/agribusinesses/digital-revolution-links-fresh-produce-farmers-and-buyers/
- Jacobs AJ, van Tol JJ & Du Preez CC. 2019. “Farmers perceptions of precision agriculture and the role of agricultural extension: a case study of crop farming in the Schweizer-Reneke region, South Africa”. South African Journal of Agricultural Extension 46(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2413-3221/2018/v46n2a484
- View the Trade Machine infographic on the 4th Agricultural Revolution at http://trademachines.com/info/agriculture-4-0/.
- De Clercq M, Vats A & Biel A. 2018. Agriculture 4.0: The Future of Farming Technology. Dubai: World Government Summit. Available at www.worldgovernmentsummit.org/api/publications/document?id=95df8ac4-e97c-6578-b2f8-ff0000a7ddb6 . Several reports on AI can be found on the same website.
- Find the Accenture Digital Agriculture Service brochure “Digital Agriculture: Improving Profitability“.
- International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has the brochure “Digital Agriculture: Pathway to Prosperity“.
- Dongoski, R. 2018, April 26. “Digital agriculture: enough to feed a rapidly growing world?” Ernst & Young. Available at www.ey.com/en_gl/digital/digital-agriculture-data-solutions
- Sung, Jehoon. 2018. The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Precision Agriculture. Available at www.intechopen.com/books/automation-in-agriculture-securing-food-supplies-for-future-generations/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-and-precision-agriculture
- The document The Future of the Western Cape Agricultural Sector in the Context of the 4th Industrial Revolution (2017) explores agriculture in each of the industrial revolutions before its analysis of the fourth. Find the document at www.elsenburg.com/sites/default/files/24.%204IR%20%20AGRICULTURE%20LITERATURE%20REVIEW%20%281%29.pdf.
- Dongoski, R & Selck, A. 2017. “Digital agriculture: helping to feed a growing world”. Performance, 9(1). Available at www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/EY-Performance-digital-agriculture/$File/EY-Performance-digital-agriculture.pdf
- Find the Innovation and Technology option at https://foodtank.com.
- Find the BBC documentary The high-tech farming revolution (2019, June 20) at www.bbc.com/reel/video/p07dgymk/the-high-tech-farming-revolution
- CNBC International. 2018, August 27. “The Agriculture Sector (B2B) | I.O.T. Powering The Digital Economy”. Available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=amX2h_p9s1I
- CNBC International. 2018, September 3. “The Agriculture Sector (B2C) | I.O.T. Powering The Digital Economy”. Available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtoFMOLFVXY&t=41s
- The Daily Conversation. 2017, May 17. “The Future of Farming & Agriculture”. Available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmla9NLFBvU&t=14s
- Read Agribook.Digital blogs like “Investment in technology vital to boost agricultural output and exports“, “Can technology solve the biggest challenges to your farm?“, “Digitally transforming agriculture across distances” and “Technology is ‘disrupting’ agriculture and will bring benefits to 21st century farmers, says Standard Bank.“
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