Technology continues to assist us in many ways, changing they way we do regular tasks and impacting our everyday life. In larger industries too, the development of new technology has allowed for significant improvement, aiding and improving manual processes. Technology has also allowed for eco-conscious developments in previously non-environmentally friendly industries; and as investors become increasingly concerned with climate change, the value of some sustainable aspects of technological improvements has also increased. Agriculture is one such industry, where there is a huge potential for advancement through technology that we are only just beginning to tap into. Here are some of the developments that are changing the way we farm, making agricultural processes both more efficient and sustainable:
For many years, farming has been the fruit of manual labor. However, with the slow but steady increase of agricultural drones, this may soon cease to be the case. Drones are often associated with surveillance or warfare, but these aerial devices can serve a variety of purposes. There is plenty of potential for drones in agriculture, but one aspect, that of Crop Surveillance and Aerial Imaging, stand out far more than others. According to Zareba Systems, “Crop surveillance can give a better perspective of crops to farmers while minimizing the cost of walking the fields or getting an airplane to do fly-over filming.” What this means is that farmers will be able to gather data in an effective and productive manner, that isn’t as prone to variable factors such as human tiredness and error, weather prohibitions and more. Drones provide faster monitoring, allowing farmers to quickly identify any crop defects or diseases. To top it all up, sometime last year, the FAA announced that drone registration will be as easy as registering for any other product, making drones a very viable option for farmers in the coming years!
Variable Rate Swath Control
This would simply build on and improve existing technologies, making way for the future of swath control through the use of geolocation tech. By pre-computing the shape of the field where the inputs are to be used, and by understanding the relative productivity of different areas of the field, tractors or agbots can procedurally apply inputs at variable rates throughout the field. While this sounds like a whole bunch of complicated science, in layman’s terms, variable rate swath control would cause a great decrease in overlapping inputs. What this means for farmers is a way to significantly save on seeds, minerals fertilizers and herbicides, freeing up some income and also contributing to less wastage of the same and better maintenance of the land. According to an article in the Business Insider, this “futuristic” swath control will actually be financially viable in 2016.
Telematic products allow for information to be pulled up with the touch of a button, facilitating easy monitoring of farm processes, anytime. This means that you could instantly know where all your vehicles are operating and their fuel levels, how much product has been applied or how much crop harvested, and even if a piece of equipment is ready to break down. Telematics products have been around for a while now, and farmers are increasingly turning to them as manufacturers come out with more detailed and improved scanners. These products allow navigation, prescription application, location and other data to be transferred easily to and from farm machinery, increasing the overall efficiency of high-priced equipment.
According to Simon Blackmore, head of Engineering at Harper Adams University, “Robots will become common on farms.” Amongst other things, they are developing an autonomous strawberry harvester, that could do the work of many men all at once. Automated logistics will open up many things in agriculture, such as the use of robots to weed and spray fertilizers. This will allow for greater efficiency and automation, allowing farmers to develop new, specialized and less mundane skills. While robots aren’t currently used in widespread agriculture, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them in the fields when they become more affordable in the next few years.
With these developments and more, we might soon see a change in the agricultural industry.