With the advent of technology, the agricultural industry is moving toward the implementation of factory farms, with steel and glass-clad green houses designed for mass production of food. While the implementation of smart cities and industrialization of agricultural industry has caused extensive changes in the social and ecological framework, the concept of smart farming is relatively new.
Smart Farming is rapidly transforming the techniques of farming, driving innovation and change. With the use of digital tools and automated machines, farmers have successfully increased the productivity of their farms and reduced the use of pesticides. With smart farming, farmers are spending as much time managing digital data as they do in fields.
Many governments are investing heavily on precision agricultural technology (agtech) which combines digital tools like global positioning systems (GPS) and sensors with automated machines such as automatic tractors, drones, and robots. Utilizing GPS mapping for crop yield reduces the costs involved and increases profits. Though smart farming looks promising to governments and corporations, farmers and laborers are not too keen about the end results.
Corporate control of seeds, feed, fertilizers, and machinery has driven up the price of agricultural input. Agricultural land is increasing in cost and farms are getting bigger than ever. Digitalization of agriculture will only amplify these trends. The data processing and control required for the automation in farms will likely fall into corporate control.
Increased productivity relies on exploitation of those at the bottom of the employment chain. As a result, the food systems of the world are plagued by immoral practices, starting from production to distribution, with the radicalized farm workers bearing the brunt. Though smart farms bring the promise of increased productivity and reduction in pesticides, agricultural automation will certainly topple many labor class jobs. The privileged university graduates will fill the remaining vacancies, which will further heighten the social and economic inequalities.
The governments can implement legislation to better save the vulnerable farm workers from corporate claws. By addressing the issues of land ownership and repatriation, the marginalized workers and farmers can be protected from exploitation. Digital skill building among farmers will help close the skill gaps and help them retain their livelihood.