Often described as one of the least digitised industries in the world, agriculture is facing one of it’s biggest challenges — to embrace the myriad technologies designed to create more productive, and more profitable farms. And with technology often comes automation, which may fundamentally change the ways our farms and agri-supply chains operate.
WiFi Connected Crops
The introduction of sensors into cropping and livestock has provided farmers with a much better look into the overall health, climatic and environmental conditions of their crops or livestock. Through cloud based software integrated with Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors, farmers have live access to this valuable data and better information to make decisions around the ways their farms are managed. Replacing manual checks and spreadsheets, these sensors help build data rich reports to assist farmers in managing long term trends and to forecast future seasons.
The arrival of the ‘agbot’
Robots too, are sweeping across agriculture. Commonly known as agbots, we may soon see them working out in paddocks, assisting in the automation of tasks such as harvesting, fruit picking, ploughing, maintenance, weeding, planting and irrigation. Ranging in functionality from menial tasks to providing absolute precision and technical skills, these ‘swarms’ of agbots may one day manage farms almost entirely independent of human intervention. Dozens of robots could work together to monitor, predict, cultivate and extract crops from the land, working in harsh climatic conditions for long, uninterrupted periods of time.
The rise of self-driving cars in cities like Adelaide, is being mirrored on the farm. Self-driving tractors are becoming more common as a way to save time and money, particularly in conditions that would otherwise be hazardous for humans. Some attach to human-driven tractors, while others are highly customisable with sensors and attachments performing highly specific tasks, such as detecting where cows have urinated and treating the affected grass to stimulate regrowth.
Eyes in the sky
Mapping technologies have also taken an enormous step up thanks to drones and GPS systems. Drones provide farmers with a bird’s eye view of their crops, land and livestock. These drones fly autonomously, taking instructions from a set o...
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