How COVID-19 Is Impacting Agricultural Research and Development

4 Minute Read
Posted by Randy Eickhoff on Jul 16, 2020 2:53:19 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced virtually every industry on a global scale. However, the agricultural sector has been particularly hard hit over the last several months. The closing of worldwide borders has created multiple obstacles for farmers and agricultural enterprises. Travel bans have prohibited seasonal workers from traveling to various regions throughout the planting season. Additionally, other pandemic restrictions have prevented the distribution of international crops.


Farmers and Food Industry Businesses Leverage Research and Development Initiatives

While COVID-19 has yielded several unique challenges to growers and food distributors, the agricultural industry is long accustomed to both navigating through disruption as well as tapping into the power of innovation and technology to find new ways to bring meals to the world’s tables. The current global pandemic is no exception. Farmers and food industry businesses everywhere are leaning into cutting-edge advancements and research and development initiatives to mitigate operational risk and potential food shortages. Planting, growing, harvesting—there are endless opportunities for agronomists to design, develop, or improve new or existing technologies and products. Some of the biggest research and development innovations within the agricultural industry right now include:



It seems like virtually every industry has benefitted from drone technology, including the farming and agricultural vertical. In recent years, drones have been used to help plant seeds and can play a pivotal role in planting crops in a safer, more socially distant way.


Self-Driving Tractors

Autonomous planters have made a significant impact throughout the farming community in recent years. Self-driving tractors utilize GPS and artificial intelligence (AI), offering a precise planting method that requires virtually little to no contact. 



Research and development innovation with sprayers has launched new products and techniques. Rolling sprayers, much like autonomous planters, offer heightened precision to target weeds without compromising or damaging surrounding crops. Additionally, rolling sprayers use less water and pesticides for a more sustainable solution. There are also drone-like sprayers that fly overhead to pinpoint and eliminate unwanted growth. 



Previous generations of farmers relied on manual methods to monitor soil health, moisture, temperature, nutrition levels, humidity, and myriad other essential growth factors. Sensors inserted into the grounds now digitize the process, delivering the data sets agriculturists need to optimize yields. 



Recent innovations in satellite development have equipped farmers with small, but powerful products that orbit designated fields, sending vital information to growers about their crop and grounds. 


Automated Harvesting

Automated harvesting innovation is still in its infancy. While some plants, such as wheat and potatoes, have used machine harvesting for decades, many other crops have proven resistant to automated harvesting methods. However, in recent years, harvesting technology has expanded to include pepper and strawberry pickers. Additionally, in 2019, a UK-based company announced the "Vegebot," uniquely designed to help automate harvesting and decrease direct human involvement. 


Does Your Agricultural Business Qualify for the R&D Tax Credit?

If your business is conducting eligible research and development activities to improve food growing, harvesting, or distribution, you may qualify for the R&D tax credit. Contact Acena Consulting today to discuss your operations with an experienced R&D tax credit professional to ensure you’re maximizing cash flow opportunities within your U.S.-based operations.



Randy Eickhoff

Randy Eickhoff

Acena Consulting President Randy Eickhoff, licensed CPA, has partnered with more than 200 companies during more than 20 years of experience securing tax credits and other government incentives. His corporate partners range from multinational technology firms to smaller, privately held manufacturing, sports, and technology enterprises.