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Robotics in Agriculture: What are the Prospects?

By Enterprise Technology Review | Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Wide-ranging adoption of robotics in agriculture can prove to be the watershed moment for the industry, which is looking to discover new grounds of efficiency and precision.   

FREMONT, CA: Technology and agriculture form a potent combination, and together, they have the potential to impact food production in more ways than one. Recent years have seen the rapid evolution of robots into highly intelligent machines. With the options of customization, robots, specifically designed to carry out tasks in the field of agriculture, are creating waves in the sector. As traditional practices lose relevance, sustainability gains importance, and consumption patterns evolve, robotics offers a significant amount of scope for modernizing agriculture. Agriculture technology (Agtech) firms that have emerged from the intersection of agriculture and advanced technologies are extending ambitious yet feasible solutions that have the power to revolutionize agriculture on many levels. The prospects that robotics has in enhancing agriculture are significant, and it's no surprise that robots will become commonplace in the agricultural setting.   

• Overcoming Labor Shortage with Robots

The demand for food crops is increasing. However, there is a shortage of farm labor in many parts of the world today. The existing workforce is also growing older, with the average age of farmers exceeding 50 according to a report. With robotics, devices that can assist older farmers and help them practice their profession for longer, are set to make a lot of difference. Robotic gloves, made of lightweight material, help farmers work conveniently even when they are suffering from weak bones or arthritis. Robotic wearables are going to be an impactful addition to the agriculturists’ tool shed. Besides, with devices like fruit-picking farm robots, the dependence on manual labor will reduce, and delays will be minimized, freeing up resources, and unearthing new levels of efficiency. 

See Also: Top Agtech Startups

• Automated Weed Removal

Weed can be a point of bother for farmers. Weed removal is intensive and time-taking. Older methods of weed removal like plowing are not preferred anymore. As an alternative, farmers use herbicides, which lead to resistant varieties of weed that don't respond to chemical treatment, worsening the problem. Robotics can tackle the menace of weeds with weed removal robots. Agtech companies have come up with robotic equipment that are trained with machine learning to identify several varieties of weed. These robots can remove weed without affecting crops, simplifying the process.

• Versatile Drones and Unmanned Systems

Sensor Technology

 

Drones and unmanned systems are disruptive devices that equip farmers with critical capabilities. The development of drone technology made precision agriculture feasible. Using automated drones integrated with robotic capabilities, farmers can undertake sprinkling of pesticides in crop fields, and chemicals, aerial surveys, and accumulation of other relevant data. These are crucial for the success of precision agriculture. Other unmanned systems that are powered by AI and ML algorithms can also be deployed to test soil properties and pick ready-to-harvest fruits and vegetables. The growing accuracy and intelligence of robots enable them to assess and pick ripened produce carefully.

• Quantifying Crop Health and Growth

Monitoring crop health is essential to achieve specificity and accuracy in agriculture. Robotics technology is making it possible to get information regarding crop in a streamlined and quantified manner. Robots with powerful sensor technology can detect physical parameters. Powerful cameras with identification and measurement capabilities can accumulate crop-related information with great detail. In the absence of robotics, it is difficult to imagine these capabilities. As robots, loaded with sensors, find their way into agricultural land, digital and remote farm management can become a reality very soon.

As robotic applications proliferate, an increasing number of robots will find their way into the field of agriculture. With applications ranging from basic to advanced levels, robotics will branch out and change the dynamics of resource utilization and yield generation. 

 

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