By 2050, the world’s population will grow to reach 10 billion people. Feeding everyone around the world presents a challenge for farmers and food producers. With a growing environmental footprint, agricultural operations must adopt modern technologies to improve efficiency. Although food production is already efficient, RFID can help enhance operations throughout the global food supply chain.
Currently, the world’s farmers produce 1.5 times the required food but between 30 to 40% goes to waste. Using RFID in farming can help increase efficiency, help generate accurate data, and ensure better distribution of products around the world. With an estimated 570 million farms currently in operations, the agro-food sector doesn’t just feed a burgeoning population, it also provides a livelihood for many rural communities.
RFID in farming helps monitor livestock, crops, and the environmental conditions that influence yields
- Food supply and distribution with RFID systems provide insights to farming operations and customers
- For consumers who want more information about the way food was produced, RFID provides complete traceability of the entire production lifecycle
How RFID in Farming and Agriculture Improves Global Food Production
In developed countries, waste remains a major concern regarding food production. Time-to-market, limited shelf life, and transportation all present a challenge to producers. Deploying RFID in agriculture can help solve many of the problems that producers face daily. The use of RFID, Near Field Communications (NFC), and the Internet of Things (IoT) is helping farmers establish new processes to reduce waste, ensure crop quality, and deliver products on time.
Producers can track every step in the process, generate key data, and shorten the schedule from field to table. Let’s look at five areas where RFID in farming is helping improve our agricultural capabilities.
1. Enabling Farm Automation and Control
Farming remains a labor-intensive operation that requires industrialized solutions to help feed billions of people every day. With global populations skyrocketing, automating key steps in the process helps alleviate some of the labor costs associated with producing food.
IoT sensors, RFID crop tagging, and network communications enable producers to track every stage of the cultivation, harvesting, and distribution process. Using accurate data from each plant or animal, farmers can increase yields and identify any areas of concern that may influence their yield. Once the product enters the supply chain, both customers and the supplier will have access to pertinent information during the distribution cycles. Sensors, monitors, and RFID tags allow farmers to automate many of the manual processes that slowed down distribution cycles in the past. With improved control systems, accurate data, and intelligent sensors, every crop can receive immediate attention if conditions change and interventions become required.
2. Recording Climate Information for Improved Yields
Most agricultural products need ideal climates to thrive in the field. While industrial farming can help control the climate, producers also need to consider the packaging, transport, and storage of products at all times. Computer networks connected to RFID tags provide farmers with the ability to examine crops quickly, identify climate changes, and set new parameters to ensure product freshness from source to destination.
Additionally, RFID helps farmers to maintain accurate inventories, track crop growth, and forecast crop sizes in advance. Installing RFID on transport vehicles provides additional oversight from the field to the consumer’s plate. With so many elements involved in the agricultural supply chain, RFID provides farmers with a unique ability to monitor operations, ensure crops are safe, and deliver fresh produce to the customers on time.
3. Increasing Agricultural Productivity with RFID Tagging
Although most farms are incredibly efficient, comprehensive monitoring systems and individual plant RFID tagging will increase yields. Farmers using traditional processes need to take manual notes about each crop or field, determine how to respond to changing conditions, and review decisions if something went wrong.
RFID-enabled farms reduce the burden for workers by automating the inspections and recording accurate crop data quickly. Modern farmers may still wear dungarees but spend a lot more time behind a computer than walking through their fields or livestock. Data input and acquisition from RFID tags remain a key enabler for increasing farm productivity and responding to events efficiently as and when they arise.
4. Livestock Monitoring for Health and Disease Detection
The food production and distribution market is now a global industry and livestock farmers need to comply with international rules and regulations. RFID tags for livestock reduce the risk of not detecting diseases like BSE or Foot and Mouth. Smart farm management systems can automate different livestock inspection processes, sending essential data to regulators on demand.
Farmers can also automate some labor-intensive tasks and keep their animals safe if there are any outbreaks in a specific herd. Tracking exposure, generating analytics about animals, and real-time traceability is possible using RFID for livestock. If any outbreaks do occur, the farm can quarantine specific herds and reduce the impact of the disease on their livestock.
5. Keeping Consumers Informed About their Food
Finally, farmers can keep all consumers informed about the providence of their food products. More consumers now have a keen interest in what farming techniques are in place, the environmental conditions of the operation, and what pesticides were involved in the production of their food. For farmers who want to ensure consumers trust their produce, tracking each product from source to destination using RFID may provide a competitive edge.
Producers can certify each stage of the food production or processing process, alleviating any concerns a consumer may have. RFID solutions benefit everyone in the food production industry, while also giving consumers the insights needed to ensure the food they buy is safe and produced responsibly.
Find Out How RFID in Farming is Reshaping the Future of Food Production
RFID systems are changing the technological landscape and providing new capabilities to almost every industry. From healthcare to food production, RFID technologies are helping improve efficiency, generating accurate product information, and streamlining processes for increased productivity.
At RFID Journal LIVE!, you can learn about all the latest applications and technologies available from RFID, NFC, and BLE. Our live event is taking place in September this year, but you can sign up for our Digital Summit happening in May this year. With multiple new applications emerging every week, keeping up with all the developments in RFID technology can help your organization succeed in an increasingly competitive business environment.
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