With climate change affecting crop growth and large industries threatening small, family-run farms, it’s more important than ever to find new, innovative ways to increase profitability and sustainability in small scale farming.

One way to improve efficiency and save money is to integrate Agritech solutions into current farming practices.

From using drones to measure crop growth, to automatically managing pest control, there are a myriad of ways that Agritech can maximise production.

Here are just some of the ways that Agritech systems could improve the life of your small farm.

What Does Agritech Mean?

Put simply, Agritech is the technology used to make farming processes easier, more efficient and more profitable. For example, systems to make traditional farming processes (such as soil management or irrigation) automated can free up time for hard-working agricultural professionals.

Other types of technology encompassed by Agritech can include sensors, drones, satellites, and software systems.

This technology is powered by space enabled data. This data comes from Earth orbiting satellites which transmit large amounts of data back to Earth. From satellite imagery to satellite navigation, this technology has the capacity to monitor every part of the planet, providing us with essential information to improve current processes.

Small Scale Farming and Agritech

In the EU, around 96 per cent of the 11 million farms are classified as family-run farms. Farming on a small scale brings with it unique hurdles to overcome.

So, how can Agritech help?

Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) allow for the easy monitoring of crops and livestock, while satellite communications can help connect different areas of the farm, including machines.

Here’s a closer look at how Agritech technology can be employed in small scale farming;

Fertilising Crops

The use of satellites can help identify specific areas that are in need of more fertilization, helping to save on costs and reduce environmental impact.

Drones could even be dispatched to disperse fertilization sprays in areas in need of urgent attention.

Water Management

By 2030, its predicted that 40 per cent of water needs will be difficult to supply. This means that water conservation is likely to become a big issue for farmers in the future. Earth orbiting satellites can identify where irrigation is needed most- helping to conserve water by pinpointing the driest areas.

Tracking Livestock

Just like the Fitbit you use to track your morning run, devices can be used to track the movement and behaviour of animals on your farm. From monitoring temperature to sleep cycles, this technology can help protect livestock against outbreaks of illness.

Reducing loss or theft, satellite navigation technology can locate each animal, while satellite communication is able to alert farmers of any problems.

Farm Season Planning

Satellite data’s ability to predict weather conditions can help farmers plan for optimal crop planting. Long term weather predictions can calculate yield expectations, resulting in higher profits and reduced waste.

Automated Farm Machinery

Satellite imagery is able to provide the best routes through farmland and navigate tractors and harvesters to perform their duties in the most efficient way possible. This could even result in driverless vehicles to save time and money!

Insurance Benefits

Being able to predict long-term weather patterns and natural disasters such as floods or draughts more accurately through earth navigation satellites should help bring insurance premiums down.

Funding the Future of Agritech

Research and funding in the Agritech sector is building. With food demands rapidly rising, food security and sustainable agriculture are enjoying increased investment.

For this reason, space enabled technologies have a huge part to play in helping farmers to reduce costs, increase yields and develop sustainable solutions to food production.

ESA Business Apps offer support, advice and funding to companies looking to utilise space enabled technologies in order to develop new commercial services in the Agritech sector.

To find out more about the types of support on offer, visit the ESA-BA funding page business.esa.int/funding.