The agricultural industry has made a tremendous contribution to the foundations of civilization. Basic essentials such as food, beverages, clothes and domestic materials are enriched by the agricultural industry. However, the traditional method in agriculture cultivation is labor-intensive and inadequate to meet the accelerating nature of human demands. This scenario raises the need to explore state-of-the-art crop cultivation and harvesting technologies. In this regard, optics and photonics technologies have proven to be effective solutions. This paper aims to present a comprehensive review of three photonic techniques, namely imaging, spectroscopy and spectral imaging, in a comparative manner for agriculture applications. Essentially, the spectral imaging technique is a robust solution which combines the benefits of both imaging and spectroscopy but faces the risk of underutilization. This review also comprehends the practicality of all three techniques by presenting existing examples in agricultural applications. Furthermore, the potential of these techniques is reviewed and critiqued by looking into agricultural activities involving palm oil, rubber, and agro-food crops. All the possible issues and challenges in implementing the photonic techniques in agriculture are given prominence with a few selective recommendations. The highlighted insights in this review will hopefully lead to an increased effort in the development of photonics applications for the future agricultural industry.
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