Robot reapers and AI: Just another day on the farm

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Pressures on agriculture have forced a technological revolution that are driving a new age of farming.

The agriculture industry has hit a turning point. Faced with a massive labor crunch and environmental instability, aggressive technology deployments are no longer an option for outliers in the sector, but a necessary and critical element in the success of the farm.

Enabling the transformation are a host of new developers, but also legacy companies with deep roots in agriculture. Smart technology from companies like John Deere, for example, is helping farmers to produce more with less and create more successful crops, all while having a smaller impact on the land and environment. In contrast to prevailing wisdom that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, John Deere is employing AI and machine learning in its equipment to identify and enable needed actions at a scope and speed beyond human capacity, automating farming actions through smart robotics to enable consistent and precise actions at large scale, and providing precise, geospatial intelligence generated with machine technology and coupled with cloud-stored data to enable sustainable farming.

In other words, it’s like farming with technologies that might be more commonly associated with NASA than a tractor company. I caught up with Dr. Cristian Dima, Lead of Advanced Algorithms, John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group, to discuss the changes underway in the farming sector and what we can expect going forward.

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Electric powered farm vehicles set to revolutionise agriculture sector

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 The use of battery power for agricultural vehicles and machinery promises to revolutionise the agricultural industry by lowering costs and improving production. From battery powered large tractors to autonomous small electric robots, battery and solar power are changing the face of agriculture.

Agriculture is under pressure to produce more food using a declining availability of additional arable land and water resources. Mechanised farming can improve food production in Africa, but requires energy, an increasingly costly input to the food production process. There is a need to control energy costs, as in any other industry, by the use of more efficient methods and machinery.

Agriculture is going through a revolution, brought about by new technology, moving to what is known as precision farming (PF), which uses satellite imagery, drones, ground based sensors, GSP systems and agri-robots to control the planting, growth and harvesting of crops. The traditional method of crop management involves blanket application of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer, while PF makes use of automation and artificial intelligence to precisely control the amounts of fertilizer, herbicide and insecticide applied to crops, with resultant increased yield and greatly reduced use of the above. PF also reduces the energy used by agricultural machinery by directing action only where it is needed and focusing activities on specific areas only.

Continue reading… “Electric powered farm vehicles set to revolutionise agriculture sector”

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