Technology has been described as bringing about a fourth agricultural revolution. It is transforming farming and food production and has the ability to help farms become more profitable and efficient.

“Farmers who embrace new technology now will see the benefit,” says Colin Phillipson of Glas Data. “Technology will help them to cut costs and become more profitable. Automating processes will also save farmers considerable time, allowing them to focus on the thing they do best – farming.”

Making the most of technology

With so much technology now available and the ability to analyse data from multiple sources, how should farmers make the most of the latest technology?

“Any financial outlay needs to be carefully thought about, so farmers are understandably keen to ensure a good return on investment from any technology they invest in. It is possible for farmers to become overloaded and spend too much time trying to work out what to do with the data they gather. That was the starting point for our GlasCore dashboard. We know how little time farmers have, so our system gives them the answers they need from their technology with very little effort,” says Colin Phillipson. 

GlasCore automatically draws all of the relevant data onto one screen, which is easy for a farmer to understand and act on. There is no need for farmers to spend time manually inputting data – it is all done for them. The dashboard is set up to display the precise information and trends a farmer needs and automatically flag up issues where action needs to be taken.

Saving time and money in practice

Sensors can be used to monitor everything from animal health to water levels and data can be relayed automatically to the farmer’s tablet or mobile phone.

Glas Data is working with Ver Facil, a leading supplier of sensors. Ver Facil’s Rob Cartwright explains how the sensors are helping farmers: “We are helping one farmer monitor an underground waste water tank. Previously this was checked manually every day with a stick being dipped into the tank. 

“The low power LoRaWAN sensor we have installed in the tank has a battery life of several years, and now data is transferred every 30 minutes. The farm manager can easily view the data on a dashboard provided by Glas Data. The new set up is more accurate and less labour intensive. It has saved the farm money as it means that waste water extraction – which is very expensive – is only arranged when it is really needed.”

Sensors can also be used to spot potential issues quickly. “Another client had experienced several water leaks, which cost £10,000 each time in lost water. Our sensors are now helping them to monitor water levels and spot leaks quickly. The cost savings will be significant,” adds Rob Cartwright.

From family farms to large agri-businesses

Technology is transforming all sectors of agriculture. Growers can use technology to manage inputs (seeds, water, fertiliser, fuel) to maximise production while livestock farmers are using technology to monitor and improve the health and welfare of their herds.

And Colin Phillipson explains that technology can help farms, no matter their size or scale: “Technology is not just for large agri-businesses. Small family farms stand to benefit from technology too. For the most productive farms there are always ways to optimise improvements and streamline workflows. Other farmers may have aspirations to reach the next level and technology can help to drive their productivity. For less productive farms technology delivers an opportunity to start making improvements.”