Farmers are long known as the diligent data collectors. They have been calculating yield acreage, milk produced by each cow and so many other details. The complex data collection techniques developed by data scientists apply to the agricultural world too now. Agriculture is in the midst of the tech revolution.
How is Tech Invading the Agriculture Industry?
Farmers are already leveraging big data tools for precision farming. Drones that communicate with satellites collect data by soaring over the fields. Farmers are using moisture sensors to preserve water by watering those parts of the fields that need it.
Cow tags can be linked to GPS devices allowing farmers to track them remotely. Modern fertilizer application can be trained to see the field and spray only those plants that need a boost. Imagine the amount of money, labour, and resources farmers can save with all this technology.
Future farming is becoming sophisticated than ever. The days of farmers wearing denim overalls are behind us. Farmers are still facing several challenges – an aging workforce, environmental hazards, shortage of affordable labour, climate, and more. Fortunately, for most farmer problems, there is a robotic device to fix the problem.
What Do The Statistics Say?
The market for professional robotics is worth $2.75 billion. Researchers say that by 2022, the annual growth of the agriculture robotics market will reach over 20%. This surging growth is fueled by automated machines, reduced costs, and the diversifying nature of machines. For now, robots may be limited to a few functions like milking cows but in the near future, they will take up outdoor chores.
Some of you might have seen automated tractors and drones already but these are sparse initiatives only. The day when we will see robots roaming around farms is closer than ever. Advanced prototypes for weeding, feeders, and surveyance are already out in the fields working their magic.
When robots and technology are added to the equation, it will improve the productivity of farms. It will also help tackle the challenge of feeding the ever-increasing world population.
Robots in agriculture have permitted farmers to be creative. Farmers have now become more empowered. Here are some roles robots are playing in farms:
Robots have shown in movies used to be clumsy and bulky. You certainly couldn’t imagine them plucking fruit off the stem gently, right? Today’s advanced robots are perfectly capable of it. Let’s say you have a field of Strawberry plants producing berries. You don’t have enough workers to pick every berry when it’s ready to be plucked. No fruit will never be left to rot.
The fruit picker robots aren’t just capable of plucking, they have a special vision that lets them detect when a fruit is ripe and plucks it with a soft hand.
Before the 1900s, farmers used to track weeds through ploughing and tillage. Both techniques had drawbacks. Ploughing releases carbon dioxide and increases soil erosion. More fertilizers are required to fix the problem. The farmers who rely on tillage for pulling weed need herbicide, which most weed becomes resistant too soon.
The solution to this problem is robotic weed pullers. The Small Robotic Firm, a company that specializes in manufacturing agribots has introduced a weeding bot called “Dick”. Its wheels work like electrodes and create a circuit. It boils the plant cells and kills them from stem to root right away.
The 4 wheel drive machine can cowl 20 hectares a day. It determines the wellbeing of each plant and pulls out the weed. It can zap any kind of weed precisely. The company has manufactured two other robots, Tom and Harry each serving a different purpose in farming. Check out this tweet speculating how these robots are revolutionizing farming:
How robots are changing agriculture!#AI #MachineLearning #Robotics #agtech @dwnews@SpirosMargaris @MikeQuindazzi @HaroldSinnott @gvalan @ipfconline1 @diioannid @Droit_IA @ShiCooks @Ym78200 @kalydeoo @labordeolivier @sebbourguignon @Nicochan33 @chboursin @3itcom @rwang0 @ahier pic.twitter.com/igYDW18Kb2
— Jean-Baptiste Lefevre Off by Maddykeynote (@jblefevre60) April 13, 2020
Drones are propelling farming away from the days of horse-driven ploughing. At this point, drones are not new. They have been commercially used since the 1980s. Surprisingly, they aren’t new to farming either.
They have been used for capturing aerial photography of fields for years. The use of drones in farming has advanced, however. The most common use of drones right now includes map building, 3D imaging, and crop monitoring.
Farmers are known as superheroes but they are getting old. The average age of a farmer is between 50 and 58 years. The aging farming workforce is a serious issue in small and medium-sized firms. There is a lack of generational stream of labour. Science has come up with a solution to this problem by creating wearable exoskeletons, which are also known as super suits.
Virginia Tech has recruited the best personnel through MGF staffing to help design exoskeletons. The exosuit eases pressure on the knees and back of the farmer. The farmers who are in their 50s will be able to use this tech suit and continue working passionately into their 60s.
These suits will enable the farmer to fulfil their daily tasks without carrying pain. Older farmers have arthritis and other health problems related to age. This technology will ensure they complete their tasks more comfortable. The goal is to allow farmers to work with less fatigue and continue doing what they love.
Author: Rosie Harman
Rosie Harman is a Senior Content Strategist, specializing in Technology. She holds a Master’s in Business Administration from The University of Texas at Arlington and has spent the majority of her career working in tech giants in Texas. When she’s not helping the content team, Rosie enjoys adventuring with her two children around her home town.