The future: What is Agriculture 4.0?


Agriculture 4.0 is a term for the next big trends facing the industry, including a greater focus on precision agriculture, the internet of things (IoT) and the use of big data to drive greater business efficiencies in the face of rising populations and climate change.

In 2018, the World Government Summit published their report called Agriculture 4.0 – The Future Of Farming Technologyin collaboration with Oliver Wyman. The report addresses the four main developments placing pressure on agriculture in the near future: Demographics, Scarcity of natural resources, Climate change, and Food waste.

The term “Agriculture 4.0” has entered the public consciousness. What are some of the changes this means for agriculture’s future?

The role of big data

Big data has the potential to benefit the whole supply chain and will play a greater role than ever before in transforming the agriculture industry. The advanced connectivity of a global agriculture network provides a vast number of benefits up and down the supply chain: Farmers can use their data to apply the right products, at the right rates, and at the right time; distributors can use data to source inputs and position themselves for maximum advantage in the market; manufacturers can improve their means of production and better target their customer base.

The role of big data is one of change, likely the largest change seen in agricultural operations this century. Big data will make the whole chain more competitive and profitable, but these benefits won’t just extend to those at the top level. Farmers will be empowered by increased insights and precise advice granted to them. Tighter specifications and traceability – made possible by data connectivity – will increase margins across the supply chain, while boosting quality to meet the demands of local and international buyers.

New technologies

New technologies are already disrupting the established norms of farming, with previously unaffordable devices now accessible and regularly deployed on farms across the world. Scout drones provide an “eye in the sky,” scouting for pests in the field or dry spots requiring extra attention. The latest advances in sensor technology means drones are now able to use additional wavelengths in the light spectrum to assess crops, spotting weeds and sick crops from the air.

Improved precision agriculture and the benefits

Precision agriculture has seen adoption rates surge in recent years, with the market value expected to grow from approximately 5.09 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 to 9.53 billion U.S. dollars by 2023.

Daily operations across the whole supply chain already generate vast amounts of data, used to improve on each business’ particular remit. By seizing the value that already exists in that huge lake of data and making it dynamic, farmers can derive better performance and productivity.

Agriculture 4.0 is more than just a movement. The term has entered use as a catch-all term for the next step forward in agriculture: a smarter, more efficient industry that makes full use of big data and new technologies to benefit the whole supply chain.

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