Agricultural activities have been in operation since the dawn of time, and they have never been more important than they are now. Scientists anticipating the world population in thirty years are concerned that farming output needs to be increased by 70% in order to meet peoples’ needs. 

Whilst multitudes of farmers are currently using 20th-century technology, this is all set to change. As with almost every area of society, new scientific innovations are likely to have a direct impact. Much research is directed towards the completion of the most tedious and time-consuming tasks. So what’s happening with farm automation? Let’s find out now. 

Harvesting can be Automated

Grocery stores are only interested in buying undamaged fruit and vegetables, so it’s essential that anything robotic will know how to handle them. Scientists have successfully developed robots that can pick apples by harnessing the power of the vacuum. When these devices don’t need such things as grabbers and claws, the product is protected. 

Whilst strawberries are soft to the touch, there are already machines that can effectively harvest them. In addition, some farm greenhouses are using robots for their lettuce and tomato harvesting. 

People who are keen to use such technology will be encouraged to discover its increasing availability online. When you access the specialist website, they will confirm that people are seeking affordable bag filling and closing equipment, or custom-built systems for their farms. Life is made easier when agricultural workers can obtain conveyors and robotic palletizing systems, color sorters, and grain and seed processors.  

It’s What People Want

Most nations are concerned about the way we are damaging the environment. Whether it’s for industry or leisure, our activities are ringing warning bells for our future. The pressure is being put upon companies to tackle their greenhouse emissions. Automation can help address some of these issues. If technology can get food to us quicker, it will be fresher and cheaper in the process. 

People are actively worried about what they eat. When chemicals are being used in plant production and animal rearing, their effect upon our health is coming under increasing scrutiny. Scientists are therefore seeking ways for farmers to reduce their use of pesticides and fertilizers. Organic farming that uses sustainably produced methods is being seen as the way forward by many. 

There are Autonomous Tractors

When it comes to row crop farming they can be a real boost to productivity, and help reduce labor costs. For the few who can currently afford them, the tractors can be either operated remotely or programmed in advance. Longer-term, some may be satellite-driven.

Scientists are also working on technology that can be added to regular tractors. If this is successful and it becomes available for purchase, it could be a more affordable option.    

Help Exists for Weeding and Feeding, Pesticides and Herbicides 

It may be possible to save money with your weeding by using special robots. Their computer vision can help you more accurately assess the need for pesticides (reducing their use by up to 90%). Solar-powered versions can save on running costs, too. Developments are also in the process to ensure that herbicides are only given where needed. They will be applied in the required quantities, rather than as a uniform spray across all the crops. 

Modern sensors are also able to find out the nutrient and water levels in the soil. This will help with the feeding and watering process.  

Applications For Milking And Feeding Cows

By the introduction of a special robot into a milking stall, an operator was able to milk 400 cows in 60 minutes. 

Intelligent (computer-driven) feeding can also enhance dairy farming. Fresh food can be supplied to an animal when it needs it and in the required amount. This can benefit both the animal’s health and its milk production. 

The Power Of Drones

Scientists are currently working on geo-positioning systems that are satellite driven, for use in farming. At lower levels, drones can assist by providing aerial views of the land and crops. Using infrared technology, they can also identify areas requiring attention. 

Just as planes have been used, drones can also spray pesticides and fertilizers from above. The only restriction would be their limited flight times.

Spray Drone

The Effects Of Automation On Labor

Research shows that labor costs amount to half of every farm’s expenditure. When automation is used, it can help bring them down. For example, a robot strawberry harvester was found to do the work of thirty people. An indoor automated lettuce farm in Japan was said to operate almost entirely without human involvement. 

Whilst that may be good news for farms, it could be bad news for those seeking employment. It may be that farmers will need less staff, but that those they employ are able to understand and operate the modern equipment. As with all machines, however, automated farm equipment can break down. This would have cost implications, particularly if specialists are needed to perform the repairs. 

One study revealed that one in two farms was short of staff. In these cases, automation could be the solution. 

The Future

It’s worth keeping an eye out for new and exciting developments. Scientists in the United Kingdom are working on a specific species of barley. They are trying to get it to use the soil to create its own ammonium fertilizer. Genomic tools may soon be able to rate the genetic codes of animals and plants in relation to productivity. Automated irrigation systems and sensors in waterways and fields are also underway. 

In developing nations, there may not be the budgets to buy automated farming equipment. For many such countries, there will be more pressing needs, however. They include having a stable government and society, alongside receiving a quality education and health provision. 

The process of automation is still in its early stages, so the future of traditional farming and rural life is unknown. It is hoped that farming output will be faster and better for the environment. In turn, the food should also be safer to eat.