Avocado farming has rapidly grown in popularity in recent years. This practice has turned into a full-time occupation for most people, and avocado orchards can be found in various locations globally. This is primarily due to the fruit’s incredible health benefits, which have been widely publicized. Avocados are also versatile ingredients in many different dishes. It is estimated by 2025, the avocado market value is likely to experience a massive increase of up to $17.9B from the $9B in 2020. Will this be possible? And how? The answer lies in advances in avocado farming and technology.
In this blog post, we will discuss these exciting innovations that are sure to make a massive impact in the coming years.
Will Technology Affect Avocado Farming?
We’ve all seen or experienced technology working wonders in almost every aspect of our lives. From entertainment and communication to work and transportation, there’s hardly an area that some technological advancement hasn’t touched. It’s also no surprise that it has infiltrated the world of agriculture.
The short answer is: yes, technology is changing the avocado farming landscape – and in more ways than one. With the best tools and equipment, advanced through technology, avocado farmers can enjoy increased efficiency and productivity. A decrease in waste and an increase in quality are also benefits they can experience. In addition, technology will resolve some of the issues that have been affecting avocado growers for years.
Challenges in Avocado Farming and Technological Solutions
Avocado farming is a complex and challenging process. There are many factors to consider to produce a high-quality crop, including climate, soil type, irrigation, and pests. In addition, the process of harvesting and transporting avocados is delicate and requires careful planning. Below is a list of some of the challenges faced by avocado farmers, as well as solutions that have been developed to address these issues.
1. Water Scarcity
This is a significant challenge faced by avocado farmers. Avocados require a lot of water to grow (1981 m3/ton), and in most regions where they are grown, water is a scarce resource. For instance, in California, where avocados are grown commercially in the United States, there is often not enough water to meet all the farmers’ needs. Chile, another major producer of avocados, is facing a similar issue.
The development of new irrigation technologies that allow farmers to use water more efficiently was adopted to address the water shortage problem. One such technology is drip irrigation, small, low-pressure sprinklers that deliver water directly to the roots of plants. This system uses less water than traditional sprinkler systems and thus helps farmers to conserve water.
Plastic mulch, also known as a protective cover, is another technology that helps farmers to use water more efficiently. This type of mulch is placed on top of the soil to prevent evaporation and help retain moisture. It also helps to reduce the amount of water needed for irrigation.
Aqua-4D’s innovative water treatment technology is another solution helping farmers address water scarcity. The Aqua-4D system uses low-level, non-invasive electromagnetic signals to treat water. This technology increases the efficiency of irrigation systems, significantly reducing the amount of water required for avocado farming.
2. Soil Erosion
Another challenge faced by avocado farmers is soil erosion. Avocados are grown in orchards on hilly slopes. During the rainy season, the water runoff washes away the topsoil, leaving the roots of the trees. This results in a decrease in the productivity of the trees as they cannot get the required nutrients from the soil.
To combat soil erosion, avocado farmers have started using mulch. Mulch is a layer of material (usually organic matter) spread over the soil’s surface. It helps to reduce evaporation, prevent erosion and improve soil fertility. In addition, it also helps to keep the roots of the trees cool and moist.
Rockwall Terracing is another soil erosion control measure that avocado farmers are using. In this method, the farmer regularly builds walls made of rocks or bricks on the hilly slopes. These walls help to prevent the water from washing away the topsoil.
3. Pest and Diseases
Pests constitute a significant problem for avocado farmers. The most common pests are the avocado lace bug, the green shield scale, and the avocado thrips. Avocado lace bugs damage the leaves of the avocado tree, causing them to turn brown and eventually drop off.
Agronomists have developed new ways to combat these pests and diseases through technology. One example is the use of biopesticides, which are made from natural materials and are effective against a wide range of pests.
Farmers have also adopted the use of drones to spray pesticides. Drones can reach areas difficult for farmers to access, making targeting specific areas infested with pests easier. They can also use drones to monitor their crops, allowing them to identify problems and take action to address them quickly. By using technology, farmers can improve the yield and quality of their avocado crops.
Technology like NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) is helping farmers target areas that need treatment and identify healthy areas of the crop more accurately. NDVI uses light sensors to measure an area’s amount of green vegetation. The more vegetation there is, the higher the NDVI reading will be.
Also, Read; Avocado Pests and Diseases
4. Inaccurate Yield Counting Analysis
Every year, farmers must decide how many acres they want to plant. They do this by surveying their fields and estimating the yield. However, this process is often inaccurate, leading to over- or under-planting. This is where yield counting analysis comes in. Farmers can get a more accurate yield picture using sensors and software.
Farmers can use this information to adjust the amount of seed, fertilizer, and chemicals used. An ideal example is the Supplant system, a leading precision agriculture hardware-software solution. SupPlant has developed a data model using predictive algorithms based on analyzing 100 million avocado data points.
This allows them to provide farmers with customized recommendations on optimizing their irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticide use. This precision agriculture solution is helping farmers to reduce water usage, lower production costs, and improve the quality of their avocado crops.
5. Labor Scarcity
In recent years, the avocado industry has struggled to find enough workers to meet demand. This is partly because avocado farms are located in remote, rural areas where little other work is available. The other reason for the labor shortage is that avocados are a relatively new crop in many countries. This means there is no large pool of experienced workers to draw from.
To combat this problem, some farmers have turned to technology. One example is the use of drones to pollinate avocado flowers. This is a labor-intensive process that is typically done by hand. However, drones can significantly reduce the time and labor required.
Machinery is also being used in different stages of avocado production. For instance, machines can now prune and harvest avocados without damaging the fruit. This is important because avocados are a delicate crop, and even a tiny amount of damage can reduce their value.
Also, read; Avocado farming
6. Lack of Avo-Farming Institutions
(Avodemia agronomist during a seminar image)
There are very few avocado farming institutions, which makes it difficult for farmers to find information and resources. The lack of extension services means that farmers must experiment with different techniques independently, which can be costly and time-consuming. There is also limited research on avocado farming, slowing the emergence of new farming trends.
However, organizations like Avodemia limited are beginning to form to fill this gap. Avodemia is a non-profit dedicated to helping avocado farmers learn about best practices and new technologies. They offer farming guides and tips via their website, organize annual seminars, and visit avocado farms to offer support.
As more farmers become aware of Avodemia and its services, it is hoped that this will help to improve the efficiency and sustainability of avocado farming in Kenya and across the world.
As the demand for avocados continues to increase, it is likely that technology in avocado farming will become more widespread. This could help improve production efficiency and decrease the cost of avocados for consumers. While there is still much room for improvement, avocado farming technology is beginning to impact the industry positively.