The Rise of Small Farm Robots

Farm Tender Apr 23, 2018

Technological innovation and its successful implementation play a key in the development of the agricultural sector. Mechanization of agricultural operations offers a number of benefits and can immensely boost yield. Modern agricultural machines provide greater field coverage, save time and are cost-effective. They make it possible to make the best use of the available resources. However, for years, farm machinery was built with the industrial-sized farms in mind. It was difficult to use such large equipment on small farms. In other words, the trend favoured the rise of larger farms!

The Shift: The Growth of Small Farm Machinery

Recently, advances in miniaturization and its gradual spread into various agricultural applications has led to a shift. The growth of small farm machinery has initiated a change that will definitely contribute towards the increase in productivity and sustainability. This change is bound to bring about a transition by encouraging the growth of small and diverse farms. The advantages associated with the use of small farm equipment is gradually being realized and the next decade will mark the rise of more and more small farm machinery than larger ones. After all, large farm machinery are not only expensive but heavy and difficult to use in all types of farms. They often make the soil compact.

An Example of Miniaturization: The Rowbot

An example of this miniaturization process is the Rowbot, which is a lawn-mower sized autonomous machine. It has the capacity to mulch weeds, fertilise the soil, and even sow crops on a 50 acres plot. Isn’t this incredible?

With its small size, a Rowbot can easily be used between rows of corn in the field to add fertilizers in microdoses. It ensures that the fertilizer does not run off the plot to contaminate the surrounding water channels and is not wasted. This benefit cannot be availed with a large tractor. In other words, with larger equipment, growing two different crops in the same field is not possible.

The Rowbot allows farmers to efficiently take care of small and diverse farms. The small machine can easily reach spots that big vehicles have struggled to reach. The shift of downsizing is just not limited to the hardware but also the business model. Rowbot machines are leased instead of being sold.

The Global Scenario:

The majority of farms in the world are relatively small. This is all the more true for poorer nations where small-sized holdings are more common. However, there are quite a number of challenges associated with such a model of farming. The use of large farm equipment is not possible in such plots. Moreover, there is a decline in the availability of farm labour due to out-migration towards cities in search of better opportunities.

This brings us to the HelloTractor, which is a startup based in Washington, DC and Nairobi. It enables farmers to request for a farm machinery. The usage and location can be monitored and owners can even rent it out. The presence of such small machines can help the community as the whole to increase yield and make the most of their small farms.

Rent To Own Zambia is another platform that has simplified the process of procuring farm supplies. It allows small-scale farmers in Zambia to rent a water pump, refrigerator and a hammermill. Even though this platform is not just for farm implements, it is based on the idea of targeted and best use of machinery to enable people to increase production and income. The company is growing and is much in demand across Africa. This clearly indicates the need of small farm equipment by the farming community. The lack of resources, equipment and labour often leads to farms that fail. This establishes that the presence of Rowbot or Hellotractor can make a huge difference.

The growth of small machines is on the rise. Companies are constantly coming up with small equipment. A recent development has been the BeanIoT, which is a sensor in the shape and size of a bean. This has been developed by the Cambridgeshire-based RFMOD and can be used to gauge the temperature, humidity and spoilage of grains when added to it. There are RFID labels developed by Infratab that measure freshness levels every 30 seconds. They can be used on food packages and even on vegetables, fruits and groceries individually. They reflect if the food exceeds a certain humidity or temperature level that can compromise the quality.

CropX is a soil based sensor company and is in process of devising techniques on ‘internet of the soil’ tool. This development can help farmers save money and time. They can help farmers in the same way as Rowbot.

The presence of large farms and big machines did enable individual farmers to farm huge tracts of land. However, they resulted in farms with low diversity. The growth of small machines will not only pave the way for the diversification of farms but will also help small farmers in a big way. The lack of small farm solutions has posed as a barrier towards enhancing yield. Smaller machines can address these issues and mark a new beginning!

Indeed, the use of advanced and efficient farm machinery can immensely increase agricultural productivity. Are you looking for the latest and improved farm machinery to enhance productivity?

At Farm Tender, we bring to you a wide range of farm machinery and equipment. With our seamless service, the process of procuring farm supplies is easy and quick. Visit us to discover a large range of farm machinery.


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