Farming is an industry that has remained basically unchanged for many, many years now. Sure, the introduction of mechanical tractors has improved productivity and reduced the amount of labour needed, but apart from that it has remained virtually untouched by technology.
However, with the world’s population constantly increasing, and set to do so for many years to come, the drive to harvest that maximum amount from the minimum area is on. This is done by a combination of technological advancements that allow for a better yield with lower man-hours to produce it, and harvested in the most efficient way.
The vast fertile plains of America were the birthplace of modern farming, and it has now become a billion dollar industry that is brimming with high tech products and gadgets. Here are some of the best:
– Sensors and GPS
With technology becoming more and more available and pushing itself into many new markets, farming is beginning to benefit. Developments in the mobile technology have now allowed RFID tags to be incorporated into almost anything, from measuring moisture content in materials, GPS logging of where materials came from and managing all of this via a centralised systems. This could virtually eliminate waste on a farm by allowing the manager to see when something is about to spoil.
GPS is another area that has developed a lot in the past few years. John Deere are in the process of completing the design and research of a completely automated tractor, that can be introduced into a field, scan the perimeter and plough millimetre perfect furrows through the whole thing. It’s still a concept at the moment, but it’s not far away from coming to the market.
There are systems that are already popular today that guide tractors, keep them straight and give a graphical representation of the field so as to ensure that it is completely covered. It won’t be long until there’s no need for us!
– Picking and Processing Robots
Examples of this can be already seen all around us, with robotic mowers and other garden machinery. There has even been a robot developed recently that can scan and detect slugs, pick them up and put them in a digestive fluid that is then used to power the batteries. Theoretically, if there were enough slugs it could carry on for ever!
In farming commercial farming circles the machinery isn’t quite so autonomous, but modern rigs can cater to many different vegetables. They run at a constant slow speed and remove the vegetables from the ground, shake off excess dirt, wash them, trim them and pack them as well. These huge rigs are tremendously expensive, but can be connected to GPS systems to create a system that can work night and day and require very little human interaction.
As well as cutting down on man power, these systems are very efficient at harvesting and preparing. For example, potato sizing can be used to automatically sort the crop into different sizes, ready to be sold on to different customers.
With all of these mobile devices collecting data about different elements of the farm and crops, as in many retail sectors, the data can be used to improve the process. Insights can be found in the same way as to where there are areas of improvement, bottlenecks that can be solved and more.
On the retail end of agriculture, again as with other markets, social media can be used to interact with customers in order to let them know about your product. It can be used to build a brand and promote certain aspects, and ultimately result in sales and brand loyalty. Check out RJ Herbert for more farming solutions and information.