Farming may be one of the oldest professions, but this field is far from outdated. As CNBC explains, small farmers have long adopted new farming technologies that allow them to grow food more efficiently. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted supply chains, they’re turning to technology to solve new problems. Here are seven ways that farming technology is changing how food gets from the country’s small farms to your plate.
Farmers are Selling Their Products Online
Small farms have dabbled in online sales for a while, but the shift to online marketplaces has grown especially pronounced since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With farms forced to seek alternative ways to get their food into consumers’ hands, many have turned to software and tools like these.
- An increase in demand for community-supported agriculture, or CSA shares, has driven many farms to use online tools like Farmigo and GrownBy rather than attempt to build online stores of their own overnight.
- Towns and cities are also setting up online marketplaces to support local farms. Platforms like Local Food Marketplace give farmers markets and food hubs a way to shift their sales online and help build a more resilient local supply chain.
- Of course, along with all of these online sales calls for a way to get food to consumers. While many farms continue to rely on pick-up, an increasing number are turning to delivery and using route planning tools like Flightmap and Onfleet to save time and fuel.
Farmers are Getting Organized
Along with a shift to online sales comes a greater need for small farms to organize their inventory. A formal inventory solution allows farms to synchronize inventory with online platforms in real-time and reduce mispicked orders or shrinkage.
Finding inventory solutions designed for a small farm can be difficult, however. Here are four farming technology solutions that are working for small farms.
- Small farm software is helping farms maximize their harvests and their profits by equipping farmers with tools for tracking crops, livestock, and equipment, managing orders and delivery routes, and keeping records from year to year.
- Some budget-minded farms are turning to open-source software like farmOS instead. While open-source software offers the benefit of customization for tech-savvy users, the learning curve can be steep.
- Once it’s out of the field, warehouse labels allow small farms to easily track their harvests by using cold storage labels on harvest totes and durable labels for tracking returnable totes and pallets.
- At farmers markets, portable point-of-sale systems improve upon cash-only transactions by integrating with accounting apps to track sales, revenue, and demand. Multi-channel farms should look for POS systems that integrate with e-commerce.
Additional Farming Technology Resources
Want to learn more? These resources cover more ways that small farms are using farming technology to change the way they produce and distribute food.
- AgTech — Not just for large farms?
- Does investing in custom technology pay off for small farm operations?
- 20 agricultural apps you should know in 2020 and beyond.
- Superior feed value through sealed silos.
Technology has changed the way we do everything, including the way we work, learn, and socialize. Now, it’s changing the way we eat — or at least the way our food gets to our plates. While the problems the small farm supply chain faces may be complex, consumers can take solace knowing farmers are using the latest tech to keep modern agriculture moving forward.