How Digital Farming Is Revolutionizing the Food Supply Chain

The food supply chain is often a long and complicated process that involves many different parties. It can be challenging to keep track of all the food being produced, where it’s going, and if it’s safe from contamination.

This is why digital farming has been able to revolutionize food production. Digital farming uses data to improve food safety, grow healthier food more quickly, produce more food with fewer resources, and even distribute food more efficiently!

ClearAg is a digital farming solution designed to improve the efficiency of how food is grown. It brings applied meteorological modeling expertise, state-of-the-science land and surface agronomic modeling, and adaptive data processing. In addition, it is a solution that leverages over 20 years of accurate and location-specific descriptive and predictive insights to aid their customer’s agribusinesses across the globe.

Farmer standing in front of flooded cropfield

Problem: the growing demands in food and agriculture

First, here are a few challenges in food and agriculture that could disrupt the food chain.

Growing population
The earth’s population is expected to grow to 9 billion people by the year 2050. Supplying food to feed that growth means that agriculture must be more innovative and more efficient.

Changes to the planet
Across the globe, climate change continues to impact our environment, and our day-to-day life and food production has not been immune to those changes. For example, we have seen unusual weather patterns affecting food production, which has become more common, affecting food yield in several ways.

Droughts are one of the most damaging climate change events since irrigation levels directly affect growth rate and yield. Flooding, which results in damaged fields and transportation interruptions, also causes issues with the food supply chain.

Labor Shortage
Many areas are experiencing a labor shortage, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, closed borders and social distancing requirements have put a strain on farmers to find the people they need to plant, care for, and harvest their crops.


The solution: digital farming

Like with any vertical market, the solution lies in leveraging technology. Digital farming is used to increase efficiency, streamline operations and give producers the information that they need to make prudent data-driven decisions.

Using digital farming and other available technological advances, a farmer can streamline his operations and make them more efficient. Optimizing various day-to-day tasks means that producers may need fewer staff members to produce a higher yield.

Data modeling and predictive software can forecast the weather conditions in your customer’s specific areas and help them make decisions based on current, accurate data.  Even with climate change, reliable forecasting can prepare your customers for whatever weather comes their way. 

Consider how digital farming affects the food supply chain in four key areas: crop yield, food safety, food quality, and food cost.

Crop yield
To address a growing population, crop yields must increase to address this need.

Using food and farming data, farmers can see what is, and isn’t, working. An up-to-date data can give farmers the chance to anticipate or prevent them before they arise.

Deploying digital farming to make smarter data-driven choices consistently results in a higher yield.

Food safety
The CDC estimates that 3,000 people per year die from food-borne illness, with millions of others becoming ill. Food safety risks can begin at the start of the growing process, such as contaminated soil or water leading to food-borne illnesses. Crops are also susceptible to different bacteria and viruses that can affect humans.

By using sensors and GPS data, farmers can monitor environmental conditions, soil pH levels or the presence of pollutants that affect food safety —at each stage in their process.

This technology allows you to quickly identify and address any issues before impacting food quality and creating a risk.

Food quality
In order for crops to achieve the highest quality, several factors need to be present, including soil nutrition, the amount of fertilizer applied, when and how much it is watered, and when harvested. These factors affect the quality of the product grown.

Having specific data for various crops available can ensure that the produce shipped out to consumers is in perfect condition.

Food cost
Like any other product, the food supply chain is part of the economy, and the cost is a critical factor when making decisions.

Like all industries, farming can be prone to inefficiencies which can make an impact on a farmer’s bottom line and increase expenses.

The pricing structure of grocery retailers is also influenced by how food is produced and harvested. Precision farming methods, for example, may boost the productivity of farms by minimizing waste. As a result, higher supply than demand typically results in a lower price for consumers.

Precision farming also reduces soil nutrient depletion and increases crop yield requiring fewer resources like water and fertilizers.

For example, a farmer may have previously sprayed his entire field with fertilizer to grow a specific crop. However, the reality may have been that only 10% of that field needed those nutrients.

The result would be 90% of the fertilizer going to waste. Using resources wisely is better for the bottom line, which flows through to each step of the food supply chain.

Closeup of crop sprayer

The impact of digital farming on the food supply chain

The journey from the farm to the grocery store can be complex, with many variables coming into play. Digital farming is a long-term solution that allows producers to be more aware of their entire food supply chain, which leads to better food safety and less food waste.

Producers can also use data on weather forecasts, soil conditions, or even the current market prices to make the most informed decisions. These decisions save money while ensuring that consumers have safe, high-quality food to eat.

ClearAg empowers agribusiness to help their customer optimize decision-making, create better products, grow revenue, and manage risk confidently. It provides new perspectives on product performance, supply chain management, market positioning, and decision support. Click here to learn more about how ClearAg can work for you!