The days of the simple farmer tilling away at the land are gone. The modern farmer is an agricultural engineer who embraces automation.
Agricultural automation is utilizing various technological innovations to upgrade and automate the many tasks associated with the production of plants and livestock. It is also referred to as smartfarming.
By taking advantage of sophisticated automation equipment, farmers can connect and analyze data in real-time, in order to make the best decisions about their business. Efficiency is key to agricultural automation. The growing rise in food demands, coupled with only having a finite amount of land to cultivate it on, means farmers need to make the most with the space available.
What are the benefits of Smartfarming?
- Lowering the margin of error – By employing automated solutions like drone technology for example, the farmer can identify diseased or damaged crops before they worsen.
- Lessening the physical burden – Farming is traditionally a laborious and physically demanding job. By utilizing today’s automation equipment, much of the heavy lifting is removed, allowing the farmer to focus on the data and making important decisions. By combining things like sophisticated robotic cartesian systems with a distributed controls architecture, farmers are automating routines were a heavy burden on the body.
- Saving time – Time is never on a farmer’s side, but with advances in agricultural automation that’s changed. Tools like automated irrigation systems and harvesters have saved countless hours of time.
Reducing environmental footprint – Farming takes up a significant carbon footprint. That is why there has been a big push recently to start converting all farming equipment to a greener, all-electric solution. Newer automation equipment can also reduce Soon many of the farms you drive by will have solar-powered robot harvesters tending to the fields.
- Solving issues caused by labor shortage – As mentioned above, farming is a demanding job that unfortunately does not pay well. Labor is over 50% of the cost to grow a farm and 55% of farmers say they are impacted by labor shortages.2 Robots can not only fill in the gaps of these shortages, but can fill an existing workers position and allow them to move up into a less labor intensive position.
- Benefiting the consumer – With automation technology, produce reaches consumers quicker. It’s also fresher and more sustainable
- Maximizing product yields – A farmer needs to get the highest yield possible with the space they have available. With a global population projection of 9.7 billion people by 2050, agricultural production will need to increase by at least 70% from current levels to serve nutritional trends.1 With Industry 4.0 technology in the palm of the farmer’s hands, they can track multiple points of data to ensure the highest yield possible.
What are some automated agricultural applications?
- Drone Monitoring
- Automated vaccine delivery
What are the Challenges of Smartfarming?
One of the primary challenges is cost to convert. While autonomous technology is becoming more commonplace, the cost is still very high for large autonomous farming equipment. It can be years before the farmer will see the equipment finally pay for itself.
Another factor is knowledge curve. If you’ve been a well-established traditional agriculturalist for the last 25 years, it’s going to be very difficult to commit to converting to learning an entirely new way to farm.
The final factor is mentioned above: how established is the farmer? It’s going to be difficult to convert a business owner who already owns a fleet of vehicles with an established field and maintenance workforce.
To learn more about the agricultural automation industry, please visit https://www.electromate.com/industries-applications/agricultural-automation/