Tommy Harwood looks at three predictions for farming in the 2020s

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Farming expert Tommy Harwood explores three promising predictions for the industry in 2020 and beyond.


From self-driving vehicles to soil DNA testing, farming expert Tommy Harwood, from California, looks at three highly promising predictions set to kick off a new decade of innovation within agriculture. 


“We’re currently experiencing a new wave of technology within agriculture,” suggests Harwood, an entrepreneur and farming expert from Humboldt County, California, “which is a great way to kick off a brand new decade in the industry.” 


“Take DNA testing, for example,” he continues, “which, for many years, had been confined largely to the world of medicine owing to its massive cost.”


Now, however, with so-called ‘agtech’ companies, such as Pattern, making DNA testing more affordable than ever, soil DNA testing is likely to revolutionize many aspects of farming, according to Harwood. From testing microbiomes to analyzing soil health metrics, farmers will, he says, be more able—and better equipped—than ever to take the best possible care of their precious soil.


Next, Harwood turns to smart sensors for his second prediction. “Something of a continuation from DNA testing, smart sensors also have their roots in medicine,” he explains. 


Now developed and produced on a large enough scale to be affordable in industries such as manufacturing and farming, smart sensors, Harwood suggests, have the potential to further benefit and revolutionize the world of agriculture. “From detecting nutrient-deficient areas and dry patches largely invisible to the human eye, to continuously monitoring soil density, moisture levels, and much more on a massive scale, smart sensors look set to be game-changing,” says the expert. 


“Also making farmers infinitely more data-aware, smart sensors will allow them greater control over their crops than ever before,” adds Harwood. 


For his third prediction, Tommy Harwood touches on self-driving vehicles. “Unlike driverless cars, self-driving farm vehicles, such as tractors, present far fewer safety concerns,” he suggests, “thanks to the application of GPS geofences, for example, and because other autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles and pedestrians are not an issue, generally speaking.”


Allowing, then, for accelerated growth in the self-driving vehicle sector, driverless tractors and other farm vehicles will, Harwood believes, afford farmers with the option to scale operations faster and more easily than would’ve ever been possible until now. Estimates, he reveals, suggest that, by 2024, the market for self-driving farm vehicles and agricultural robots globally will have leaped from around $4 billion today to more than $10 billion, all in less than five years.


“Cutting-edge technology such as DNA testing, smart sensors, and self-driving vehicles will, in coming years, I believe,” adds Tommy Harwood, wrapping up, “revolutionize farming like never before, driving sustainability and increasing productivity and profitability in the process.”