UAVs, Big Data and IoT to realise smart farms by 2025, according to Smithers Viscient

A new report from Smithers Viscient, Ten-Year Forecast of Disruptive Technologies in Crop Protection to 2025 is the result of an exhaustive primary research program incorporating interviews with a panel of leading crop protection technology experts. The report profiles and evaluates a broad range of disruptive technologies, ranking the top 25 that will impact on the crop protection industry through to 2025 and beyond.

Technology transition in agriculture has typically been rather slow, but over the coming decade it is expected that technology adoption will take shape a lot more quickly: as technologies emerge and mature they will converge to provide more intuitive, easy-to-use and cost-effective solutions.

The need for food sustainability will continue to drive the global crop protection market and related sectors between now and 2025. “A priority for the future of agriculture will be to find ways of producing more food while using less fossil energy,” said Charles Rowlands, author of the report.

“Finding cost-effective and efficient ways to store and deliver energy, when it is needed, is one of the biggest obstacles to new technology breakthroughs. Disruptive, new power systems such as next generation batteries and energy harvesting will enable the implementation of new disruptive technologies.”

Modern agriculture continues to rely heavily on the use of chemical interventions to control the majority of pests and pathogens. By 2025, the combined global market for synthetic pesticides and biopesticides is estimated to reach $103 billion, according to the report. Biopesticides are anticipated to increase their share from 5% today to 16% in 2025. However, demand for synthetic pesticides is expected to slow as a result of higher environmental standards and increasing consumer awareness of the harmful effects of pesticide consumption. High value is now being placed on alternatives to chemical pesticides.

Food production in the next 10-25 years will have to come primarily from existing agricultural land.  Consequently, farming is increasingly moving towards a precision approach, which offers enormous productivity gains. Precision agriculture (PA) uses only the optimal amount of any input (water, fertiliser, pesticide, fuel, labour), applied when and where it is needed to efficiently produce high crop yields.

PA brings advanced engineering technologies, computing, IT and communications into agriculture – making full use of emerging and much-hyped technologies related to Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT). The goal is to optimise productivity, profitability, and sustainability of farming operations through the development of new farm management software tools and decision-support solutions.  The market for PA is estimated to reach $29 billion in 2025.

The use of robots and UAVs for weed control and pesticide application offers new opportunities for site-specific, even plant-specific, control.  UAVs are already highly disruptive in agriculture, with a surge in popularity being driven by increasing affordability and ease of use. The market for agricultural UAVs is estimated to reach $4.4 billion in 2025, according to the report.

Farming of the future will be a very different environment to the one of today. Farms will be designed for data generation and data capture, and fully connected farm machines will function as integrated systems to perform planting, cultivation, harvesting, nutrient and chemical application based on the data generated. Such disruptive change will bring agriculture firmly into the digital age.

Order before 30 November and Save 10% on Ten-Year Forecast of Disruptive Technologies in Crop Protection to 2025. The report is available for £3,780 / $5,850 / €4,815 until Monday, November 30. Order online at and the discount will be automatically applied at checkout.