How Automation is Boosting the Agriculture Industry
- By Alexey Shalimov
According to the UN reports, by 2050, the planet's population will be close to 10 billion people. It’s less than 30 years from now. With such population growth, the agriculture industry will need to increase its food production by 70% to keep up with the demand. Needless to say, such growth in the consumption of agricultural products seems unreachable without technological assistance.
Fortunately, farming automation is on the rise at the moment. Although most of such agriculture technologies are rather new, they are rapidly gaining popularity across the world. All modern tech advances help farmers cut costs, reduce labor shortages, and increase the quality and sustainability of final products. Here is how automated farming systems achieve those goals.
What is farm automation in agriculture?
Farm automation is the process of using modern technologies to enhance food production, and increase efficiency and the cost of production. Overall, the new tech advancements help approach traditional farming with higher precision, accuracy, and effectiveness. These processes aim at helping farmers keep up with the growing demand while also reducing the pressure and hard working conditions for farmers. Overall, smart farming is responsible for the automation of various processes, making it easier to perform, observe and complete those tasks without human intervention. Such automation includes a variety of technologies and equipment, including, but not limited to, drones, sensors, robots, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Why is agriculture automation important?
Farming is responsible for the health and food security of future generations. Meanwhile, it should also address numerous growing concerns, such as climate change and environmental issues, increasing population, rapid urbanization, labor shortages, etc. Technologies can help farming evolve, adapt, and navigate the fast-changing market place.
Technological advancements can assist farmers in all stages of food production, from planting to harvesting. These advances have the power to completely transform the agriculture industry, fully adjusting it to the modern needs of people and the environment.
What technologies are being used in farm automation?
Most farm processes are represented by rather tedious, repetitive, labor intense, and standardized tasks. Such work conditions may be difficult for people. Yet, these are the perfect conditions for trying new technological advances, including robotics. That is also why farming can be a perfect area of tech modernization. It offers great conditions for testing new smart equipment in an industry where human labor is scarce at the moment.
These are prime examples of modern automated farm equipment.
Robotic Planting and Weeding
Seeding and weeding are no longer a part of the manual processes. Modern machines can perform automated weeding and planting at a greater speed and with more accuracy than people. Seeding, for example, is set on two pillars - correct planting depth and distance between seeds. Machines can easily follow these precise guidelines. Moreover, some machines can also use sensor data to analyze the soil and increase the seeding success.
Most weeding robots will also use imaging systems, sensors, video, or AI technology to recognize the plants and weed out what they deem harmful.
Remote Controlled Tractors
Tractors are the main force on any farm. Of course, their automatization was among the first tech transformations. Today, people can pre-program and remotely control tractors. Such technology reduces the need in the labor force, can read the weather conditions to find the optimal working time, and can operate at any moment, day or night. Of course, such tractors still need people for programming, repairs, and operation setting. Yet, as for the rest, they can be completely autonomous.
Farm harvesting is among the more complex automated tasks at the moment. Such operations require precision, knowledge of the crop, and a delicate touch. Usually, harvesting is a time-sensitive matter that requires an increased labor force. Harvesting robots can work autonomously, recognizing the ripeness, size, color, and other parameters of crops to locate and collect the right produce.
Smart Farming Apps
A smart farming app helps monitor, analyze, and collect essential data about the crop and livestock on the farm. Such applications can inform farmers about areas in most need of certain interventions, including watering, crop spraying, harvesting, etc. Overall, such applications allow higher control over fields and processes on the farm, notifying farmers about and/or starting the needed interventions once they are noted.
The drones use in agriculture is nothing new today. This technology allows farmers to monitor fields, scan their conditions, spray crops with fertilizers or pesticides, and collect data, further sending it for analysis. Modern agricultural drone technology can operate autonomously, and instantly react to any first signs of an emergency.
Advantages of farm automation
Modern technologies allow farmers to strive for unseen speed, efficiency, and precision in the traditional farming process. Although smart farming is only at the beginning of its journey, the existing benefits are already monumental.
The current consumer demand for products is frequently changing, depending on food and environmental trends. Keeping up with the growing demands without smart farming would have been a challenge. Yet, robotic farming equipment and smart technologies allow farmers to work more efficiently delivering higher-quality products to the market. An increased speed and improved quality of produce (due to enhanced monitoring and automation) allow farmers to deliver fresh crops at lower prices.
With the continually growing urbanization and the intensity of the working conditions, farmers always face labor shortages. Yet, an agricultural robot can perform the most challenging and tedious tasks at a higher speed and efficiency, giving farmers more time to deal with other businesses.
Reduced environmental footprint
Farm automation helps them cut down on emissions, drastically reducing their overall footprint. The given technologies reduce transportation emissions (due to agriculture drones), prevent unnecessary use of chemicals or water waste, and decrease food waste due to close monitoring along with timely and quick harvesting.
The agriculture industry has only recently started to rely on smart farming technology. Yet, the results are already undeniable. Farm automation may completely transform traditional farming, bringing increased efficiency, speed, and higher levels of quality, while also reducing the need for time, human labor, and vehicles. Moreover, the given technology is the only hope for farmers to keep up with the growing and changing demands of the modern market, while aiming to increase productivity and food production in the nearest future.