Technology in Agriculture and Food Safety & Supply Chains.

Food supply system and its main phases and actors. This current system is till date inefficient and unreliable.

Food safety is the condition of processing, managing and storing food in hygienic ways, in order to prevent illnesses from occurring to human population. Food safety and quality assurance have become increasingly difficult in times of growing global flows of goods (Creydt en Fischer 2019).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that contamination because of food causes 48M Americans to become ill and 3,000 to die every year (CDC 2018), (Tripoli and Schmidhuber 2018). In 2016, Oceana performed a research on seafood fraud, showing that 20% of seafood is labelled incorrectly (Oceana 2013).

Lee et al. “Commented that food supply chains are characterized by reduced trust, long shipment distances, high complexity, and large processing times “(Lee, et al. 2017).

DLT Blockchain could provide an efficient solution in the urgent need for an improved traceability of food regarding its safety and transparency. Recording information about food products at every stage of the supply chain allows to ensure good hygienic conditions, identifying contaminated products, frauds and risks as early as possible.

Walmart and Kroger are among the first companies to embrace blockchain and include the technology into their supply chains (CB Insights 2017), working initially on case studies that focus on Chinese pork and Mexican mangoes (Kamath 2018).

Early results from the studies showed that, when tracking a package of mangoes from the supermarket to the farm where they were grown, it took 6.5 days to identify the origin and the path the fruit followed with traditional methods, whereas with blockchain this information was available in just a few seconds.

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Precision Agriculture in Crop Production.

Site-specific crop management (SSM) uses a variety of technologies to manage different parts of a field separately. Natural, inherent variability within fields means that mechanized farming could traditionally apply only crop treatments for “average” soil, nutrient, moisture, weed, and growth conditions.

Necessarily, this has led to over- and under-applications of herbicides, pesticides, irrigation, and fertilizers—except on those rare sites that are truly average. Chemical excesses from blanket applications, then, end up running off or leaching from fields into ground water and surface waters. Most current SSM practices use precise global positioning combined with location-specific measurements—either in-field data collection (such as soil variables or pest occurrence) or remotely sensed data (such as from aircraft or satellites)—to quantify spatially variable field conditions.

Within-field operations, then, adjust treatments based on spatially referenced management decisions recorded on maps of management zones. Now precision technologies are being developed that can sense microsite specific conditions in real time “on the go” and can automatically adjust treatments to meet each site’s unique needs (variable rate nitrogen application). These latter types of technologies require no a priori spatial information, but rely, instead, on the ability to simultaneously measure soil or plant conditions and to effect treatments.

In fact, SSM is more akin to traditional agricultural practices, wherein small-scale, non-mechanized farming permitted spatially variable treatments. Farmers, at that time, possessed intimate knowledge of each small corner of each field and, because agronomic practices were primarily manual, could readily translate that knowledge into location-specific cultural practices.

Later, agricultural mechanization reduced labor costs (the primary input cost) and permitted massive increases in production while wasting other, cheaper inputs (fertilizer, herbicides). Because these other costs have increased in recent decades—and environmental costs are now being accounted for—producers are looking to variable-rate technologies to minimize input costs and mitigate environmental concerns.

Precision Agriculture Driving Smart Decision Making, Real-Time Analysis.

The development and implementation of precision agriculture or site-specific farming has been made possible by combining the Global Positioning System (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS). These technologies enable the coupling of real-time data collection with accurate position information, leading to the efficient manipulation and analysis of large amounts of geospatial data. GPS-based applications in precision farming are being used for farm planning, field mapping, soil sampling, tractor guidance, crop scouting, variable rate applications, and yield mapping. GPS allows farmers to work during low visibility field conditions such as rain, dust, fog, and darkness.

In the past, it was difficult for farmers to correlate production techniques and crop yields with land variability. This limited their ability to develop the most effective soil/plant treatment strategies that could have enhanced their production. Today, more precise application of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, and better control of the dispersion of those chemicals are possible through precision agriculture, thus reducing expenses, producing a higher yield, and creating a more environmentally friendly farm.

Precision agriculture is now changing the way farmers and agribusinesses view the land from which they reap their profits. Precision agriculture is about collecting timely geospatial information on soil-plant-animal requirements and prescribing and applying site-specific treatments to increase agricultural production and protect the environment. Where farmers may have once treated their fields uniformly, they are now seeing benefits from micromanaging their fields. Precision agriculture is gaining in popularity largely due to the introduction of high technology tools into the agricultural community that are more accurate, cost effective, and user friendly. Many of the new innovations rely on the integration of on-board computers, data collection sensors, and GPS time and position reference systems.

Many believe that the benefits of precision agriculture can only be realized on large farms with huge capital investments and experience with information technologies. Such is not the case. There are inexpensive and easy-to-use methods and techniques that can be developed for use by all farmers. Through the use of GPS, GIS, and remote sensing, information needed for improving land and water use can be collected. Farmers can achieve additional benefits by combining better utilization of fertilizers and other soil amendments, determining the economic threshold for treating pest and weed infestations, and protecting the natural resources for future use.

GPS equipment manufacturers have developed several tools to help farmers and agribusinesses become more productive and efficient in their precision farming activities. Today, many farmers use GPS-derived products to enhance operations in their farming businesses. Location information is collected by GPS receivers for mapping field boundaries, roads, irrigation systems, and problem areas in crops such as weeds or disease. The accuracy of GPS allows farmers to create farm maps with precise acreage for field areas, road locations and distances between points of interest. GPS allows farmers to accurately navigate to specific locations in the field, year after year, to collect soil samples or monitor crop conditions.

Crop advisors use rugged data collection devices with GPS for accurate positioning to map pest, insect, and weed infestations in the field. Pest problem areas in crops can be pinpointed and mapped for future management decisions and input recommendations. The same field data can also be used by aircraft sprayers, enabling accurate swathing of fields without use of human “flaggers” to guide them. Crop dusters equipped with GPS are able to fly accurate swaths over the field, applying chemicals only where needed, minimizing chemical drift, reducing the amount of chemicals needed, thereby benefiting the environment. GPS also allows pilots to provide farmers with accurate maps.

Farmers and agriculture service providers can expect even further improvements as GPS continues to modernize. In addition to the current civilian service provided by GPS, the United States is committed to implementing a second and a third civil signal on GPS satellites. The first satellite with the second civilian signal was launched in 2005. The new signals will enhance both the quality and efficiency of agricultural operations in the future.

Instant delivery of quality solutions is the key to success! Strategic partnerships are fundamental to improving business outcomes. Contact  us to partner in critical infrastructure.