Technology allows us to learn, share and accomplish more. General productivity has increased immensely with the help of new technology – specifically with robotics. Robots have even started managing some tasks faster and more efficient than humans. While the use of robotics is well-integrated in many industries, especially those producing goods, the agricultural industry is still primarily using humans for the majority of farm labor, but working on options for integrating more robotics in the future.
Agriculture has been one of the fastest moving industries when it comes to technology. With farming being foundational to human survival, the agriculture industry continues to look for ways to increase crop yields while also saving time and labor in the process. Years of perfecting agricultural-benefiting technology has given growers the opportunity to plant and harvest larger yielding crops than ever before – and technology continues to improve.
While technology has furthered the agriculture industry in numerous ways, robotics is one aspect of mechanization that remains nearly untouched by growers. To date, robotics has played a minimal role in production agriculture, but potentially tremendous opportunities in the future to help with farming labor needs and in other areas.
Apart from initial costs of integrating the technology, the biggest issue concerning “roboagriculture” is that those well-versed in robotics may not often be as fluent regarding the specialized needs within the agriculture industry. This is not to say that they could not learn, but their lack of familiarity with regards to the specifics within different areas of the industry may hamper their ability to see where robotics could bring the best value to the agricultural industry. This goes both ways. Growers, who have generations of knowledge with regards to farming, may be less likely to be as informed about the opportunities with robotics.
For robotics in agriculture to be successful, there needs to be more of a collaboration between robotics technicians and growers. In addition, ample time would need to be devoted to perfecting the robotics process so it would not disrupt the crop or cause considerable damage.
Although the task of integrating robotics into the agriculture industry may seem daunting, the benefits could be phenomenal. Robotics could not only help solve labor shortages and optimize yield, but it could also help obtain a significant amount of useful data. There is the potential that robotics could help predict yield potential, estimate the future capabilities of the field, evaluate plant health, and possibly much more.
Nathan Dorn, consultant for ag technologies focused on specialty crops, states in PrecisionAg magazine’s article “A Bright Future For RoboAgriculture,” that when it comes to meeting the demand for high quality crops, “Farmers know they can feed good food to everyone on the planet. We could just use help to carry the load.” An extra metal hand or two could ease growers’ tasks and improve productivity.
When it comes to farming, every time one task gets completed, there are several more waiting to be accomplished. With technology advancing further and faster, one might wonder why it has taken so long to integrate more robots into the agriculture industry. This is because growers want to ensure that when robotic technology is integrated into their fields, it is done the right way. Many growers get only one chance to grow a crop each year. There is not a lot of wiggle room to throw away an entire season due to a robotics mishap.
It takes only a few great minds to start to see where robotics is capable and plausible to help advance the agriculture industry. The pool of people who are proficient in both areas may be small, but it is certain to produce a valuable answer in the future. Robotics may not be the answer to every agricultural problem, but it is exciting to explore the opportunities that lay ahead within the agriculture industry.