A lorry is driving through the fields, in the background there are wind turbines.

The Role of Transport in Agriculture

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The main role of transport is to deliver agricultural products from farms to markets and to cities worldwide. Correct logistics is the key to managing the assets or goods from the point of origin to the consumers. Moreover, the national well-being depends on transport. What if delivering products stops and supply chain issues appear? 

To transfer any agricultural commodities, whether conventional or mechanised, transport is necessary. In many parts of the world farmers and producers live far from the places of distributing their products. This means that many of the supplies have to be transported to the locations of collection, to be stored or simply sold for marketing. Road transportation allows connecting the open countryside, where farming occurs, to industrial districts, where processing happens, and finally to customers and business people in cities.

The future of logistics and transportation should focus mostly on technology and innovation. The issue of most concern is being not prepared for the changes. The transportation sector must have to be open for novelty, or consumers will be forced to seek alternatives.

How does transportation help agriculture?

Transport allows farmers to invest more, increase production and reach the international ranges. Without transport, there is no option to develop business, as anything needs to be transported, sent or carried to finally reach the customer. Also, large quantities could be wasted because if there is no efficient transport, there is a deterioration in quality. In fact, a lot of the farmer’s reputation and his business depends on transport.

Both the quality of products and the quality of transport are crucial for the buyer’s satisfaction. What is important, that agricultural products differ from industrial items. The majority of agricultural goods are consumable products, they are also bulky and perishable. The packaging and transportation must prevent the products from being bruised while in transit. Harvesting, threshing, winnowing, bagging, processing, and storage are all steps in the process of gathering a harvest. They have different qualities which makes the transportation quality as crucial as transportation availability.

Some goods can be cheaper to produce but they need to be transported from the outskirts or a different country so that sum up for the product price at stores. Keeping transportation costs low helps farmers make a profit and makes it more accessible for consumers. Doesn’t matter if the harvest is plentiful, the farmer can worry if the products cannot be transferred abroad or to reach customers anywhere else. Items have to reach the client at the right time and at a reasonable price. 

How to deal with a transport crisis?

When the world Covid-19 pandemic started, it had a great impact on transport. People started to buy more products to prepare for spending more time at home. It resulted in missing items on the supermarket’s shelves in many countries. Mostly the precautions put in place to restrict the virus’ spread began to affect the delivery of agro-food items to markets and consumers, both within and across borders, in many nations. This only proves how transport is important and any issues in the supply chain are dangerous for country prosperity. According to Tractor Transport, nearly 60% of the population depends on agriculture and related activities for survival. 

If there are no drivers the whole transport of products is in threat. A good example can be the United Kingdom that properly left the EU this year. The result of Brexit caused petrol shortages in many British towns and cities. On the 5th of October, BBC News reported that only 127 EU petrol tanker drivers have filed for temporary visas to deal with the situation. For overseas drivers, the government is granting 300 short-term permits but it seems like it is easier for them to change jobs than get visas to Britain.

To avoid a crisis, it is important to properly manage the logistics. When the supply chain is disrupted, it’s critical to have a logistical plan in place. Companies that respond swiftly, regardless of the cause (weather-related, union strike, damage to the warehouse, workforce shortages, etc.), will be able to continue functioning with the least amount of delay. However, this necessitates preparation in which one should participate. Entry-level warehouse workers, drivers, operations supervisors, and vice presidents are important in the planning sessions. 

In fast-moving agriculture, being open to new technologies can help make a strategy for the time when a crisis occurs, predict and prepare for any periods of inconvenience.

Challenges in the transportation industry

In addition to the obvious challenges of any raw supplies, such as ensuring product quality and delivering products in a timely and satisfactory condition, there are other important aspects. A lot has to change as digital disruption and innovation become essential aspects of many firms’ overall strategy. To maximise the value of any digital investment made by an organisation, the role of supply chain and logistics must improve.

Growth of technology and Agriculture 4.0

The intense use of technology in agriculture is aided by heavy haulage. Farmers can transport large agricultural machinery and equipment from one area to another using class 7 and 8 heavy-duty tractors and specialised trailers. This aids in the expansion of agriculture and agriculture-related companies. 

Besides the heavy-duty tractors, there is an alternative, eco-friendly electric tractor. Their batteries can be charged by wind or solar power. Farmers can even install a water-driven turbine to generate electricity if their farm is on a hilly piece of land with a stream.

The technological future of agriculture is called agriculture 4.0. Farms and agricultural operations would have to be operated considerably differently soon, owing to technological improvements such as sensors, devices, equipment, and information technology. Instead of water, fertilisers, and pesticides uniformly across entire fields, farmers will use the bare minimum and focus on extremely particular locations.

Transport automation and IoT

Either for big transport businesses or small developing companies, technology in transport can significantly help improve this industry. To succeed it is important to be open to innovations, such as installing apps and integrating Internet of Things-powered GPS tracking devices into your assets. 

Industrial robot arms working in a farmers warehouse.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has risen in popularity in recent years, with smart devices becoming more common and able to share information with one another. According to Cisco research between 2013 and 2022, $14.4 trillion in value (net profit) will be up for sale for businesses all around the world, thanks to the Internet of Things. 

In regards to automation, various transport companies are looking to utilize robots by creating their automotive warehouses more open for technological capabilities. In the past most of the production was conducted manually, now the development of IT, robotics is replacing the labour shortages. 

Big data and transport networks

Big data has a huge potential to develop the supply chain and is important in transforming the agriculture industry. Distributors can use data to source inputs and position themselves for maximum market advantage. Manufacturers can improve their means of production and better target their customer base thanks to the advanced connectivity of a global agriculture network.

Technology trends (including cloud and mobile computing, Big Data, increased processing power, and many others) and business economics (such as Metcalfe’s law) are driving the IoE economy.

J. Bradley, J. Barbier, D. Handler, Embracing the Internet of Everything To Capture Your Share of $14.4 Trillion, Cisco

Big data will make the entire supply chain more competitive and profitable, but the benefits will not be limited to the top tier. Farmers will be given more knowledge and accurate counsel, which will empower them. Tighter standards and traceability, enabled by data connectivity, will raise supply chain margins while also improving quality to match the needs of local and international buyers.

New technologies are already upending farming’s established standards, with previously unaffordable devices now being widely used on farms around the world. With the help of technology, transportation is also developing. One solution is e-Highway to help trucks supply heavy load cars with electricity to drive long distances without stopping on the charging stations. 

Furthermore, thanks to recent developments in sensor technology, farmers can use scout drones that are surveying the land for pests or dry regions that need special attention. Drones may now use new wavelengths in the light spectrum to analyse crops, recognise weeds and ill crops from the air.

Improving agricultural logistics with tech

With the rise of e-commerce, transportation providers must operate more efficiently and quickly. They must process an individual’s orders as promptly as possible. This is a sector that has taken the industry by surprise. Many logistic companies are still adjusting to the new circumstances. But to stay in the market, it is important to use the new technologies as they become more and more popular. Farms will be more profitable, efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly as a result of these advanced devices, precision agriculture, and robotic systems.

To satisfy recipients needs, it is important to stay up-to-date with technologies as it is an easier and more sustainable way to reach many of them. Many customers expect now that they will be able to track the progress of receiving the ordered products. Because of the ever-increasing amount of data available, consumers want to choose a company that meets their exact needs and a more visible, innovation-driven supply chain.

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