What Tasks Are Agricultural Robots Performing?

In the early 1900s, farmers relied heavily on their draught animals. They used them to bring in the harvest and perform other necessary agricultural work. However, these draught animals have now been displaced by machines during the 20th century, an era of tremendous technological advancement. 

These rapid technological advancements in the farming and agriculture industry have resulted in a previously unimaginable level of farming efficiency. Will the technological future of agriculture be just as revolutionary? Time will tell, but all signs seem to indicate that it will.

One major technological advantage in modern farm management is that the farmer now has easy access to an unprecedented amount of useful data. For a farmer, can there be anything more important than the ability to collect, get valuable insights on, and act on data regarding the weather?

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It should come as no surprise that technological innovation is still at work and very much has a place in the world of modern agriculture today. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, these innovations look set to pick up the pace and gather momentum in the immediate and foreseeable future. 

Technological innovation is not being motivated by innovation for innovation’s sake. The goal of increased efficiency (the need to produce more with less) is being driven by such urgent global forces as a growing population, increased urbanization, and a chronic labor shortage.

This article will consider how technological advancement, focusing on the tasks agricultural robots are performing, is already playing a major role in today’s farming.

Farmers using drone

A new technological era

An exciting new era in high-tech food and agriculture innovation has certainly already begun. This new era promises reduced costs, increasing yields, and sustainable food production. This new high-tech era involves various technological innovations that will ultimately work seamlessly together to greatly increase farming efficiency. 

These complementary high-tech machines that promise to revolutionize the future of agriculture are many. Those few listed below are just a sampling. Along with each one, included is just one of many possible examples of how they are used: 

  • Sensors – Moisture sensors can be used to provide data about moisture, fertilizer, and nutrient levels that will allow you to examine long-term growth patterns for each of your individual crops.
  • Drones -Using a combination of machine learning techniques to analyze 3D mapping, sensor data, and drone-recorded data, you can accurately predict potential soil yields for a particular crop.
  • Robots – Large-scale agricultural businesses affected by the global labor shortage are looking to robotics to care for hundreds of acres of crops by programming them to fertilize each row of crops. This use of robotics keeps operating costs low and increases crop yields.

Robot picking tomatoes

Agricultural robots (agribots)

Much research and development has gone into creating and refining agribots, or agricultural robots.  These autonomous machines are able to perform many different tasks related to crop maintenance, including weeding, seeding, applying pesticides and herbicides, harvesting fruits and vegetables, thinning plants ,and tilling soil. 

For example, robots have been developed that combine AI, high-res cameras, and sensors that enable it to pick tomatoes. Not only will it pick tomatoes but will identify when they are ripe and only pick those fruits that are ready to be harvested.

Others have been developed to specifically harvest sweet peppers and are built to work on a single stem crow cropping system. 

The high costs associated with harvesting, and the labor involved, make harvesting one of the most logical applications for the deployment of robots. The use of robots for harvesting will greatly increase the profitability of farm operations and make manual labor on the farm virtually redundant.

As you can imagine, the agriculture industry has only just begun to scratch the surface of a high-tech farming future. A future that promises completely autonomous tractors, robots, drones, and other machinery all working together as sophisticated guidance systems control them.  

As this new era of technological innovation gathers pace, it becomes easy to envision the future of agriculture. This future includes teams of agribots and drones used to care for vast areas of farmland. These autonomous robots can be used for sowing, watering, treating, and harvesting crops.

The potential benefits of this current wave of technological innovation are not only about making life easier and increasing profits for the individual farmer. Climate change and population growth have changed the demands placed upon the agricultural industry. 

To meet the challenging demands of the future for the entire planet will require actualizing the maximizing of crop yields and minimizing natural resource waste.

Additionally, we have recently seen producers facing a challenge in obtaining and retaining its workforce. This issue has been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the travel restrictions that have been imposed. 

Utilizing agricultural robots is one way to close agriculture’s growing labor gap.  

Autonomous Tractor

Future of agriculture

What can you expect to see looking several decades into the future if high-tech farming continues at its current pace? As the various technologies strengthen working in harmony and linking together seamlessly, there will likely be much less waste, higher yields, and less harm to the environment.

As mentioned, the changes made during the 20th century that revolutionized agriculture are now having their limitations exposed by the urgent needs of our times. Will this exciting high-tech agricultural future be smart enough to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex future? 

A lot depends on the adaptability and open-mindedness of each individual stakeholder in the farming world.

MyDTN is the leading independent, trusted source of actionable insights and market information. It provides proven temperature and precipitation forecast accuracy, proprietary industry coverage, and more.

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