Why Farmers Need Computer Science Degrees

Published: March 8, 2017.

Dollars & Details:

While agriculture and food production account for a massive $8 trillion yearly, or 10% of global economic activity (GDP), farming is not an easy way to make money. Market prices for crops vary constantly. Droughts can be devastating. Meanwhile, costs of seeds, fertilizer, irrigation and equipment can create a huge financial burden. It’s time for technology to the rescue!

In the U.S. farmers brought in $353 billion in revenues during 2016, but crop prices have been depressed in recent years thanks to global competition and tough market conditions. (Farm revenues are projected to be $20 billion lower in 2025 than they were in 2014.) Farmers up to the challenge are taking advantage of the growing ways that agricultural technology (AgTech) can help reduce expenses and boost efficiencies. Prices for such technologies are dropping, while capabilities are improving. The hard part is that farmers need to develop the tech skills to take advantage of them.

Trends and Theories:

GPS and Precision Agriculture: Precision agriculture, also called precision farming, is in use to a growing extent across the globe. The intent is to increase yield, decrease costs (including manpower and water usage) and avoid problems in the field. Today, it primarily involves the use of GPS to guide tractors for precise tilling and planting. Eventually, it will evolve to include the use of remote wireless sensors, GPS, satellite imagery, predictive databases and other advanced technologies to monitor and react to soil, weather and crop conditions, such as the local level of soil moisture and soil nutrients. Robotics and nanotechnology will eventually be part of this trend.

Ag Drones: GPS maker Trimble also offers drones for aerial mapping and crop management. Drones have tremendous potential for precise monitoring of crop and soil conditions.

Irrigation Technologies: Agriculture is by far the world’s biggest user of water, and water scarcity is without doubt one of the greatest problems the world will face in coming years. Out of sheer necessity, vast amounts of money are being invested in research, development and implementation of advanced crop irrigation technologies. Leading nations in this field include Israel and China, both facing significant water scarcity issues.

Ranks and Results:




Note: Agriculture creates significant export activity, with about $130 billion in annual farm exports from the U.S. alone.



All the information you need about the global wireless industry can be found at Plunkett Research, including our food industry research center online, and our just-published, completely-updated Plunkett’s Food Industry Almanac , 2017 edition.