Agricultural Technology: A Fourth Revolution?

16.02.24By Timothy Guyver, Investor


Farming processes have remained remarkably consistent over the centuries, with only three widely accepted agricultural revolutions occurring where existing practices were significantly improved upon. The specifics of the first two revolutions are still up for debate, however, they appear to have sprung up in the Middle East[1] and Europe[2] respectively. The former brought about basic farming principals as neolithic humans moved away from hunting and gathering and began settling in one location, the latter occurred in Britain in the 17th century due to an increase in land/labour productivity, mostly driven by the change to crop rotation methods under the Norfolk four-course system. The third, and still seen today, is characterised by the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and machinery which has driven productivity yields to new heights.

It is our view that we are underway in a fourth seismic shift in the way in which humans cultivate crops and livestock. This revolution is being characterised by the changes brought about by novel on- and off- farm technologies and an increased breadth of connectivity, allowing the agricultural sector to improve existing practices through IoT-enabled devices, autonomous machines, machine learning, and data-enabled decision-making.[3] These products, for example, might allow for greater foresight around production output and planned distribution, they might help with process automation and reduced environmental impact, or they might benefit cost and waste management due to an increased control over production.

Despite the benefits of such on-farm technological advancements, only 39%[4]  of farmers, globally, are either already using agriculture technology (referred to as agritech, henceforth) or planning to do so by 2025. While there is a higher penetration of such technology in farmers across NA and EU (62% and 61% respectively), there remains a gulf between the availability and adoption of such technologies. However, shifting macroeconomic factors are resulting in more farmers innovating around the notion of technology which drives changes to existing and well-trodden practices.

At Farview, we believe smart agritech tools are transforming the way in which we grow, transport, and eat our food across all stages of the supply chain.[5] Processes have been refined and farmers are able to operate with a greater degree of predictability rather than reacting to those conditions in front of them. Such predictability is required as the environment in which farmers are needing to produce more food to satisfy a growing global population is being made more difficult through erratic weather patterns and fluctuating input costs.

We see huge value in the tools that harvest the expanding datasets available to farmers which have come about through a greater proliferation of IoT devices and inter-device and process connectivity, all of which allows them to make better, data-driven decisions, increase yield, decrease input cost, and minimise production-associated risk, all while disseminating data to other agri-food stakeholders.

We have segmented the agriculture technology market into 6 core buckets. We cannot claim to have the perfect set of results from our research but have developed a set of opinions based around the existing structure of the industry. The six sub-sectors within the supply chain of agriculture technology are as follows:

  1. Digital Agronomy – Technology which relates to crop production and soil management.
  2. Production – Process of using available resources to produce food for either human or animal consumption, with all stages of processing included. Technology varies here from autonomous devices for indoor or vertical farming, to animal gut health monitoring systems, with everything in between.
  3. Market Access & Financing – Technology which provides access to insurance and finance products alongside new, digital routes to market.
  4. Distribution – Technology-enabled practices surrounding logistics, supply chain, and food traceability.
  5. Retailer/Grocer – Key buckets include food-waste management-, grocer-, and restaurant/hospitality- technologies.
  6. Consumer – Seen more commonly in the form of food-delivery and meal-alternative services.

The spread of technology across the sub-sectors varies massively. From biotechnology and gene-editing for agronomists to food-delivery companies for consumers, technology applications are making themselves a necessity in each step of food production. We are seeing agri-focused Fintech, perishable goods logistics technology, soil health monitoring systems, and farm data management solutions. We see all sorts of technology developing along the supply chain and their growing use cases to respective stakeholders.

As B2B technology investors, we focus across the mid- and up-stream stages, intrigued by how smart plays can benefit both farmers and other agri-food stakeholders.

Let’s take yield forecasting & crop management solutions across the production of everyday cereal as a case study. Using various data-sources to accurately map out crop, soil, input, and weather information, ML models are able to ingest all data to create accurate forecasts for cereal production. Not only does this information benefit the farmer who is now able to forecast and budget with a greater degree of accuracy and predictability, such information can be passed to food or agriculture-input companies. A food producer, like Nestlé, can then use this information to make their production process more efficient through greater insight into supply-chain costs and delivery. For an agri-input company, like a fertilizer manufacturer, they can better understand their customers’ purchasing cycles and react accordingly. Such data-driven approaches within the agriculture sector not only increases on-farm efficiency, but also allows for data to be disseminated across the agri-food-supply chain which increases transparency, efficiency, and traceability.

The larger and more productive the farm and the more value the produce holds, the more likely it is to see some form of technology being deployed to aid the running of the holding. Although the vast majority of the worlds 570m farms are in Asia, where there are roughly 444m independent farms and almost all of them are micro holdings (<1 ha. of land), technology adoption there remains understandably thin[6]. As stated earlier on in this piece, the western agricultural world (across North America, Europe and ANZ) is currently experiencing a growth in technology adoption at a pace far ahead of the rest of the world.  It has been suggested that about 70% of the world’s farmland is owned by somewhere between 1-3% of all farmers[7], although estimates vary. That results in somewhere between 5-15m farmers, globally, sharing 3.4bn ha. of land, all of whom have a far higher proclivity to adopt agriculture technology. With about 76% of these large landowners (categorised by owning more than 500 ha. of farmland) having either already adopted such technologies or planning to do so by 2025, we see a significant greenfield opportunity to address for any entrepreneur in the agritech space. This is, of course, taking the glaring opportunity of the continents of Africa and Asia for granted, where small-holder farms dominate the markets. Difficulty around penetration and scalable use-cases prevent large-scale adoption, but being able to crack such a nut is the billion-pound question in the industry.

Historically, unclear RoI and high costs have been significant barriers for farmers to adopt agriculture technology. This is trending in a positive direction; as successful, next generation agritech businesses generate demonstrable value, winning over the hearts and minds of a traditionally sceptical and conservative customer base. Such technology is changing the way in which farmers can farm, ensuring that yields remain predictably high in uncertain environments. It is also allowing for greater collaboration and communication across typically disparate stakeholders, ensuring that the most efficient routes to market and production processes are met.

While there are factors inhibiting the velocity of adoption, these new practices are continuing to drive greater on- and off-farm efficiencies and are revolutionising the way in which food is cultivated, produced, and consumed. We suspect that such changes are for good and that a continued scale in adoption and use-case will be seen.



[1] When the World’s Population Took Off: The Springboard of the Neolithic Demographic Transition, (

[2] Agricultural revolution in England : the transformation of the agrarian economy 1500-1850, (

[3] The fourth agricultural revolution has already begun, (

[4]  Agtech: Breaking down the farmer adoption dilemma, (

[5] Agfunder: Celebrating 10 years in agrifoodtech, (

[6] The Number, Size, and Distribution of Farms, Smallholder Farms, and Family Farms Worldwide, by Sarah K. Lowder, Jakob Skoet, & Terri Raney.

[7] : Research findings from the land inequality initiative, Uneven Ground.