One of the ways technology is impacting the agriculture system is the application of robots in the farming processes.
Today, robots are helping farmers to do soil analysis, planting seeds, controlling weeds, supplying nutrients, fertilizers and water to plants, monitoring the farm, harvesting foods and host of others.
This is the reason experts have opined that today’s food and agriculture industry has been revolutionized by the use of robotics and automation processes.
There are many applications of robotics and different areas of farming where robots are used.
Today, the application of automation in agriculture is growing daily and according to research, the market for agric robots and drones will be over $40 billion in a couple of years, that’s too huge to neglect.
It requires time, efforts and manpower to carry out most of the activities involved in commercial farming, therefore, the use of advanced and sensors and robotics and implementation of automated farming are employed.
Let’s now discuss how robots help farming and the task they perform.
A nursery can be a field where seeds will be grown and nurtured in a container to become a young plant. These young plants will now be transported to the main site where they will grow into a large plant or sold to farmers.
Robotics are now in use to automate the nursing of these seeds. There are now automation solutions for potting, seeding, and even for warehousing the living plants in the greenhouse.
For example, it’s the robots that will convey the pots into the greenhouse, space them as they grow, water them and consolidate the pots when the young plants are transported to the main field.
For some seeds which are planted directly on the farm,commercial farmers normally attach their seed broadcast spreader to the tractor while moving this tool on the farm to plant the seeds, however, this method wastes a lot of seeds in and around the field.
However, this and many other challenges in planting seeds on a large scale can be overcame with automation precision seeding which combines geomapping and robotics.
The robot will make use of map to read the soil properties at each and every area of the field. The seeding robot will be attached to the tractor to help placing the seeds at right locations, and in the proper depth.
This will reduce the amount of quality seeds that are being wasted as well as seeds that are not properly planted in the soil.
Crop Monitoring and Analysis
It is not an easy task to manage large farm. You will need much labor and the cost of this can be high and sweep away your potential profits. the monitoring can also be ineffective sometimes.
For example, checking young plants on a large field to know if their roots are well fitted into the soil, assessing nutrient deficiency and some other data needed to improve yield and productivity.
But with the help of geomapping and new sensor technologies, farmers are getting very high-level data about the crops.
There are drones and ground robots that will take soil samples, monitor the water level and nutrient level of the plants, give report on pests and infections etc and all these data are collected autonomously.
The robotics performing these functions are now sold to farmers and they can now monitor their farms in the comfort of their homes.
They just need an engineer to install the hardware and download the software that connects with the robot on their smartphone.
They can now get live data of their farm on the app installed on the mobile phone. Some of these robots can even help in weed control by identifying weeds and applying chemical on it and even fertilizes plants that are deficient in the essential nutrients for growth.
Even though water is recyclable and reusable, water conservation is now important than ever before. In old system of farming, application of fertilizers and irrigating the farms both use a lot of water.
Because of this, there’s more cost of getting water available for farming and water could be one of the major constraints in growing some foods in some areas
There is a new method that’s being used now in precision farming which is called Robot-Assisted Irrigation.
This is a modern method of irrigating the farm whereby robots will be employed in the irrigation system and water will be made available to the roots of the plants only.
The amount of water that will be showered to each plant is already regulated and there will be no waste of water in this method. Each plant will get the needed water for growth and this will be applied to all the plants on the field.
There are agricultural robots which will autonomously navigate in between the plants and provide the plants with water directly at the right place. The robots are capable of accessing the areas where some other machines can not navigate.
Precision farming seems to be the way to meet the huge demands of food in this century. Using robots to carry out those hectic, time consuming agricultural practices will help in reducing cost of food production, improve yields and increase productivity.