Automation in Agriculture - How Clever Software Is Changing the Game
From prehistoric hunting to settled agriculture in 10,000 BC, to the unprecedented increase in productivity cemented in the 19th century, and the ongoing Green Revolution sparked in the 1930s – agriculture is continuously evolving.
One of the biggest revolutions we are experiencing in our lifetime is “Smart Farming” – technology is now changing the agricultural game, world-wide. And, it needs to. Fast.
To feed the world’s growing population by 2050, production is going to have to increase by 70%.
That demand is coupled with new challenges like climate change, pandemics and the government’s flow on regulations that have rippling impacts on agricultural logistics – the industry is going to have to transform out of necessity.
Will your business be one to thrive on this new demand and conditions?
Clever software could be your answer to future-proofing your business.
Smart Farming makes operations more efficient, reduces in down time, automates production and improves data and reporting.
The goal of farm automation is to take over the easier, mundane tasks, enable remote operations and collect better information and metrics.
A good system will help identify strengths and weaknesses, compare and contrast how each stage is performing, give you a live dashboard or PDF performance report and measure assets remotely so you can assess any issues or priorities before dispatching workers.
As well as new robotic equipment, previously thought of as ‘dumb’ assets and machinery can now be made ‘smart’. This means you don’t have to delist your current fleet, you can retrofit new technology to make use of Artificial Intelligence and software systems like Single Source Platform.
What does the near future in farming technology look like?
Already, Australia is developing it’s first “hands-free farm” – Charles Stuart University in Wagga Wagga will make use of autonomous vehicles, drones, sensors, data analytics, geospatial mapping, remote sensing, machine learning and cybersecurity technology to convert a commercial farm.
Many companies are fast-tracking automated machinery across the globe. One such company is Spanish-based Agrobot, which has successfully developed the first strawberry picking robot that uses 24 independent arms as well as colour and infrared sensors, plus graphic processing, to assess fruit ripeness. Agrobot and other companies are also utilising vacuum technology to work gently on fruit harvesting.
Autonomous tractors are now on the market, controllable remotely or pre-programmed and automation kits are being developed to allow retrofitting existing tractors with driverless technology.
Robotics for the mundane task of seeding and weeding are reducing labour costs as well as pesticide use with targeted computer vision. EcoRobotix in Switzerland has produced the first ever completely autonomous weeding machine for better ecological and economical outcomes.
Drones continue to have wide-spread remote applications in farming, including live imagery for diagnosing problems early through to applying fertilizers and other treatments from the air.
What are the cost benefits of Smart Farming?
Purchasing new ‘smart’ equipment does currently come at a hefty price, with the fully automated farm in Wagga Wagga costing $20 million to convert. But, as we have seen with other technological advances, costs come down quickly as technology advances.
In the meantime, retrofitting and preparing your farm for a move to a more integrated, technology focused approach is the best first-step.
Two major reasons for embarking on a long-term automation plan are in labour and environment.
As we have seen in the past few years, the global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in travel restrictions limiting labour supply and down-time with a labour force affected by quarantining and illness. The ability to automate, means business can keep running.
Labour is more than 50% of the cost in farming, so a once-off investment to lift your technology game could mean a long-term reduction in the cost of paying people as well as lifting the limitation of less labour-intensive crop choices.
From an individual level to international policy, climate change is transforming our lives and bringing the need to adjust the way we live. Smart Farming has the potential to reduce your environmental footprint which makes it easier to meet any future regulations as well as positioning your produce more competitively in a market where this is becoming more valuable.
Hands-free farming is closer than you think
Single Source Solutions is already helping agricultural operations in technological revolution, allowing them to take their first steps towards automation and offering up-to-date advances to existing equipment.
Single Source creates a custom solution for each client, individually suited to their needs – by learning about your business and requirements we recommend a suite of solutions that aim to utilise your existing spend on systems, maximise their potential, and bring it all together on a tailor-made platform.
Find out how Single Source Solutions can help you introduce meaningful technological improvements to your agriculture venture today.