Robots are transforming the agriculture and farming industry

Robots are transforming the agriculture and farming industry

“Agriculture's development was a turning point in human history. The ability of fully-modern humans to engineer the environment to provide enough food to sustain tremendous population expansion was the first major shift in their interaction with the environment. Agriculture ushered in a slew of innovations, ranging from the use of fire and prepared food to self-driving machinery.”

Modern agriculture has been totally revolutionized by technological developments ranging from robotics and drones to computer vision software. Farmers now have access to instruments that will assist them in meeting the growing demands of our world's population.

What does farm automation entail?

Farm automation, sometimes known as "smart farming," is a type of technology that improves farm efficiency by automating the crop or livestock production cycle. Drones, autonomous tractors, robotic harvesters, automatic watering, and seeding robots are all being developed by a growing number of companies. Despite the fact that these technologies are still relatively new, an increasing number of traditional agriculture enterprises are incorporating farm automation into their operations.

Urban/indoor farming

With the concept of indoor and urban farming, robotics is assisting agriculture in becoming vertical. In order to make the most of limited space in urban locations, technology has enabled greenhouses to function 24 hours a day, resulting in yields per square foot that are more than ten times higher than traditional farming.

This was accomplished in part by using LEDs to optimize the light spectrum for photosynthesis, accurate nutrient administration, and automated harvesting. While urban farming decreases the environmental impact of food transportation, these operations still consume a lot of energy and have only been economical for high-value crops. The popularity of these applications will undoubtedly rise as robot efficiency improves and consumer desire for local food remains strong.

Automated Harvesting

Fruit and vegetable harvesting has always been a challenging challenge to automate. To avoid bruising and damage, harvest robots must be delicate with the produce. Agrobot has invented the world's first robot for harvesting strawberries gently, regardless of where or how they are cultivated. Up to 24 robotic manipulators work together from a mobile platform to pick the fruit that fulfils the farmer's quality criteria.

Autonomous Tractors

Tractors that are self-driving can be controlled remotely or even pre-programmed to provide a farmer complete autonomy. Rabbit Tractor's autonomous tractor provides value to row crop producers not only by lowering labor expenses, but also by increasing operational efficiency and productivity. Bear Flag Robotics is even developing tractor automation kits that make automation more accessible to farmers by retrofitting current tractors with cutting-edge driverless technology and implement control at a low cost.

Weeding and seeding

Seeding and weeding robots can be programmed to target specific agricultural patches. This can easily reduce labor and tedious duties on the farm when seeding. With computer vision, weeding robotics can be extremely accurate and minimize pesticide usage by 90%. Blue River Technology uses computer vision and robots to spray herbicides precisely where they're needed and with exactly what's needed. Farmers now have a new tool to combat and avoid herbicide-resistant weeds.

UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)

Drones can be used to remotely monitor conditions and potentially spray fertilizers, insecticides, and other treatments. They can also use imaging and infrared analysis to swiftly and cost-effectively identify problem regions, allowing farmers to address difficulties early on. American Robotics is working on a completely autonomous "Robot-as-a-Service" with an autonomous drone, base station, and analytics platform that will supply growers with insights at resolutions, frequencies, and speeds never seen before. Some of the most relevant applications of autonomous drones and the data they provide are:

  • Crop monitoring
  • Soil assessment
  • Plant emergence and population
  • Fertility
  • Crop protection
  • Crop insurance reporting in real time
  • Irrigation and drainage planning
  • Harvest planning