The food industry is one of the major industries across the world. Due to the COVID – 19 pandemic, it has emerged as an essential talking point. Hygiene and safety have resulted in growing discussions concerning the aspect of automation across food manufacturing. Manufacturers are developing new technologies that are capable of providing end-to-end automation for food production. Minimizing worker presence across the production process will not only eliminate potential contamination but also it will help companies with reduced costs of production.
Here in this post, we are sharing with you the revolution in the food industry. Scroll down to read how the automation of food industry will impact the society by and large.
Here we go……
What is farm automation?
The use of technology to make farms more efficient and automate the crop or livestock production cycle is called farm automation. As the world is moving towards automation, more and more companies are working on robotics innovation to develop autonomous tractors, robotic harvesters, drones, automatic watering, and seeding robots. And many traditional agriculture companies have already started adopting farm automation into their processes. Automation of the farming industry is going to bring about a major change. Autonomous robots will be performing tasks at each stage, from farming to harvesting.
The food industry is one of the major sectors, and robotics in the food industry will bring about significant changes worldwide. Robots are not new in the farming industry; it’s just the coronavirus outbreak that has expedited the drive to automate the food industry.
The COVID – 19 pandemic outbreak has made many countries realize the necessity of robotics in the Farming industry. Like other industries, Robotics in farming can help solve many problems that the industry is facing. With a global population projection of 9.7 billion people by 2050, food demand is expected to increase anywhere between 59% to 98%. Undoubtedly, this is a considerable increase that cannot be managed with human labour. In fact, the pressure on farmers to produce nutritious products will put our planet’s health under even more stress.
However, new advancements in technologies ranging from robotics and drones to Artificial Intelligence in the farming industry have entirely transformed modern agriculture. Now, the farmers will have access to tools that will help them meet the world’s population’s ever-increasing food demands.
Bradley Bogolea, the CEO of Simbe Robotics, said in an interview, “As the dust starts to settle, I think more retailers will wake up to the need of having greater automation across their business.”
Example: John Deere Autonomous Tractor – Future of Farming.
Like traditional tractors, John Deere Autonomous Tractor can be used to plant, fertilize harvesting, and many more. But the best part is these tractors are more efficient and can be used without any human help. They can perform all the tasks that a traditional tractor does, but they come equipped with the environmental sensors, GPS, etc. This makes the whole process of agriculture easy and comfortable for the farmers.
Besides, many companies are developing robots that can take care of fertilizers, irrigation, and every other aspect of agriculture. These automated systems are capable of identifying discrepancies and can be set up for different functions, from fertilizing to harvesting. It will impact the overall productivity of the farm.
Different Technologies Used in Farm Automation
Below are the technologies that are used in farm automation at present:
- Harvest Automation
- Autonomous Tractors
- Seeding and Wedding
1. Harvest Automation
One of the agricultural robot manufacturing companies, Agrobot, has successfully developed the agricultural robot for harvesting strawberries. From a flexible mobile platform, up to 24 robotics manipulators work together to pick the fruit while meeting the farmer’s quality standard. Another company, Abundant Robotics, has developed the world’s first commercial apple harvest robotic. Their robots pluck fruits from the branch by using a vacuum instead of using any claw or hand-like graspers that may damage the fruit.
2. Autonomous Tractors
Another technology that is commonly used in modern agriculture is autonomous tractors. Autonomous tractors are more comfortable to control remotely, or they can be pre-programmed to give full autonomy to a producer. John Deere Autonomous Tractor is one of the best examples of autonomous tractors. It can be used for planting, fertilizing harvesting, and many more.
Another company, Rabbit Tractor, has developed an autonomous tractor that not only delivers value to row crop farmers through a reduction in labour costs but also improves efficiency across operations and increased yield. Bear Flag Robotics has developed Tractor automation kits that make automation more accessible for farmers by affordably retrofitting existing tractors with cutting edge driverless technology and implement control.
Drones in the farming industry can be used to monitor conditions remotely. Apart from this, they can also be used to sprinkle fertilizers, pesticides, and other treatments from above. Drones are the quickest and most cost-effective modern agricultural solutions. They can make farmers’ life easier, as drones can identify problem areas with imagery and infrared analysis and help farmers diagnose issues early on. A company called American Robotics is already developing a fully autonomous “Robot-as-a-service” with an autonomous drone, base station, and analytics platform that will provide insights to growers at resolutions, frequencies, and speeds.
4. Seeding and Weeding
Seeding and weeding robotics are meant to target specific crop areas. Seeding robotics will dramatically reduce both labour and mundane tasks on the farm. While weeding robotics will be used to reduce pesticide usage by 90% with computer vision. Blue River Technology has developed wedding robotics used to spray herbicides only where needed and with precisely what’s needed. This helps farmers to control and prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. Another company, ecoRobotix, has also developed its first-ever completely autonomous weeding robot. This weeding robot is specifically meant for a more ecological and economical weeding of meadows, row crows, and intercropping cultures.
Advantages of Farm Automation
Automation of the farming industry will benefit both farmers and consumers by and large. Besides reducing labour cost, Farm automation technology also addresses significant issues like farm labour shortages, a rising global population, and changing consumer preferences. The benefits of automating farming industry are as follows:
1. Increased efficiency
The first and foremost advantage of using robots in the Farming Industry is increased efficiency. Consumers’ preferences are now shifting; they are currently looking for more organic and sustainably-produced products. Automation of the farming industry will improve productivity, increase efficiency, and increase the yield and production rate, thereby reducing costs for consumers.
2. Maximized Productivity
The human workforce can get tired, but that’s not the case with robots. Robots never get tired; they can work tirelessly 24 X 7, which ultimately increases productivity.
3. Labor Efficiency
Nowadays, farmers are moving to less labour-intensive crops, which is why farming automation can be enormously advantageous. Farm automation can help farmers get rid of routine and mundane tasks and save time for more necessary things. Moreover, it increases labour efficiency. For instance, a strawberry robot harvester can do a job of 30 farm workers by picking a 25-acre area in 3 days.
A farmer needs to get done a lot of farm-related tasks, which an automated tractor or robot can do easily. An automated tractor can do multiple things like fertilizing, harvesting, etc. more affordably and quickly.
5. Environmental Friendly
Farm automation practices not only make agriculture more profitable but also reduce the ecological footprint of farming. Weeding robots can significantly reduce the number of pesticides and fertilizer used for agriculture while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.
Disadvantages of Farm Automation
Besides being advantageous, farm automation also poses some severe threats, like:
1. High Cost
Adopting robotic technologies can be costly for farmers, so not all farmers would be able to incorporate technology into their farms. For instance, robotic planters’ hardware must be built differently, which will simply add to the cost. Besides, technical issues and equipment maintenance will again add up to the farmers’ overall cost.
2. Increased Unemployment
Obviously, the automation of the farming industry will result in an increased rate of unemployment. There will be less need for farmworkers, which will impact their lives to a great extent. Robotics will replace workforce utilization in the fields, which will lead to unemployment.
How Learning Digital Skill Sets Can Impact Farm Workers’ lives?
The human element will always be a fundamental aspect of managing a farm, but the truth is fully autonomous vehicles and farm equipment are coming. So, it would help if you will be prepared for the same. With farm automation, human activities will be narrowed to the minimum, which will result in unemployment.
However, farmworkers can consider learning a digital skillset. Learning a digital skillset can significantly change farmworkers’ lives. They can use these skill sets to start their own online business or work as a freelancer. You can consider learning affiliate marketing or digital marketing; there are myriads of options to choose from.
This is the right time to start learning a digital skillset. The world is already moving towards digitalization, and in the future, there will be a huge demand for people with digital skillsets. Right now, you have two choices, either you whine about the automation of the farming industry, or simply start preparing yourself for a better future. The choice is yours!
Moreover, you don’t have to be highly qualified or tech-savvy to learn digital skills. Also, you don’t have to travel to other locations for learning; you can do it from your home’s comfort. It just needs your time, an internet connection, and a laptop or desktop.
BE YOUR BOSS, LEARN DIGITAL SKILS