Technology has transformed farming. Muddy fields and cow sheds may not seem like the natural habitat of computers, but smart agriculture has been instrumental in maximising crop yields, preventing disease and moving towards a more sustainable future.
Whether it is 5G connected self driving tractors, or drones and robots equipped with cameras, smart technology allows farmers to collect detailed information on a massive scale which would have previously been collected by hand.
With the global population currently standing at nearly eight billion, one of our biggest challenges is continuing to feed people in an equitable manner while protecting the environment. Added to this challenge is the shortage of labour available to work on these farms as rural communities have dwindled as new generations have moved towards further education and an urban lifestyle.
This has, however, opened up opportunities for technology innovators to solve a number of problems and processes that might have previously required a more labour intensive approach. And as we progress through the second decade of the twenty first century, the combination of technologies is causing an explosion of new solutions.
Combining 5G technology, with the most advanced innovations coming from the battery manufacturer, you have the foundations to power the smartest scientific know how in the most isolated of areas without compromising on the longevity and integrity of the work in hand.
After all – the last thing you want is your drone running out of charge in the middle of a 100 acre field!
Here are some of the amazing ways smart technology is helping revolutionise farming.
Robot Assisted irrigation systems
Sophisticated sensors can monitor atmosphere moisture levels and send real time analytics to a smart device. This device then communicates with the SDI Subsurface Drip Irrigation system to accurately control the amount of water that is used with absolute precision. Not only does this help to ensure that the correct amount of water is used for the best crop results, it also allows greater control over the amount of water used – optimising use and reducing overall wastage.
Monitoring and analytics
The use of drone technology in farming is rapidly becoming irreplaceable. At its simplest, it allows a farmer to remotely check every area of a crop quickly, highlighting crop damage or other issues which can then be immediately addressed. They can also provide 3D field maps with soil analysis, to help the famer in overall planting decision making at the beginning of a crop cycle.
Automatic planting through robot technology
Ground based robots have been used for sowing seeds, but more and more this process is being carried out by air borne drones. Using compressed air, an adapted drone can ‘shoot’ the seed into a precise location, and at a specific distance apart. Although this technology is still in its infancy in general agriculture, it is widely adopted in reforesting projects after wildfires.
A happy cow is a productive cow
As well as out in the fields, smart technology is also being introduced in animal husbandry practices. Milk production has long since been driven by technology. However, many new inventions are being introduced which aim at looking after the emotional wellbeing of an animal. After all, a happy animal both produces better, and tastes better.
Innovations such as an automatic rotating cow brush are designed to work in synchronisation with the cow’s natural urge to run themselves against rough surfaces. Studies highlighted how a cow likes to ‘groom’ itself, as a way of calming itself down if it gets too stressed. It also helps the cow avoid any parasitic outbreaks, and remove dead skin. A smart cow brush will sense the pressure and direction of a car, giving it the comfort it needs of a good scratch, in a way that is protecting the cow physically from any potential harm.