Smart farming involves the incorporation of advanced technologies into existing farming methods in order to increase production efficiency and the quality of the agricultural products.

Smart Technology in Farming
Smart Technology in Farming

Article from | Len Calderone

Smart Technology in Farming is the idea that refers to operating farms, utilizing modern information and communication technologies to enhance the quantity and quality of crops. The objective of smart technology is to establish an intelligent foundation system for farm management.

Increasing production to feed over 7 billion people worldwide isn’t easy, but the engineers and farmers are working together to create a technological solution—the smart farm. Smart farming involves the incorporation of advanced technologies into existing farming methods in order to increase production efficiency and the quality of the agricultural products. This also improves the quality of life for farm workers by cutting down on heavy labor jobs and monotonous tasks.

Because of population growth, climate change and labor issues, interest has grown in smart technology. Most portions of farming can benefit from technological advancements, such as planting, watering, crop health and harvesting. The basis for smart technology in farming fall into three major categories. These are autonomous robots, UAVs, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

John Deere driverless farm equipment

A driverless tractor is a part of smart technology. It is deemed driverless because it operates without a human inside the tractor itself. Unmanned ground vehicles are programmed to autonomously locate their position, decide on the proper speed and avoid obstacles such as people, animals or objects in the field.  Driverless tractors are either fully autonomous or supervised autonomous.

During the setup of a smart farm, humans will still be needed to set up field and boundary maps, program the best field routes, and determine other operating conditions.  Humans will also be needed to handle scheduled repair and maintenance.

We will see autonomous tractors become self-sufficient, utilizing cameras and machine vision systems, GPS for navigation, IoT connectivity to enable remote monitoring, as well as radar and LiDAR for object detection and avoidance. These technological advancements will reduce the need for humans to control these machines.

At one time, sowing seeds was a laborious process. Smart technology improved on that with seeding machines, which can cover more ground much faster than a human. These machines plant seeds at the correct depth, and space plants at the correct distance apart to allow for optimal growth.

Fendt seeding robots

Fendt launched the MARS project (Mobile Agricultural Robot Swarms), which uses small robots operating in swarms. This system uses a cloud-based solution to plan, monitor and precisely document the planting of corn. Satellite navigation and data management in the cloud allows for operations to be conducted night and day, while the position and planting time of each seed is precisely recorded. Knowing the exact location where the seed is planted helps the rest of the process, such as fertilizing, which will be performed according to the individual needs of the plant.

If one of these robots fails, the paths of all units are automatically re-assigned, and the remaining robots fill in for the failed robot. Since each robot can be filled with different seeds, a mixed crop can be planted in the field.   

Drones will monitor how far along crops are in their growth stages. Farmers can also spray sick crops, using drones with chemicals to bring the crops back to life. Drones can spray fertilizer 40 to 60 times faster than by hand.

Farming UAV by AgEagle

Fixed-wing UAVs are the optimal option when covering a lot of farm land, fast. Fixed-wing agriculture drones can cover up to 10 times the acreage that a conventional quadcopter can cover in a single flight. The image quality can suffer due to the speed if used for photography. Fixed wing UAVs are unable to capture survey-grade topographic detail.

There are many applications for agricultural drones, including land reconnaissance, checking for weeds, monitoring overall crop health, and managing livestock. Drones are outfitted with the latest technology like propulsion systems, infrared cameras, GPS and navigation systems, programmable controllers, and automated flight planning.

Drones can be used to acquire useful data on the quality of the existing soil. By obtaining 3D maps, a farmer will be able to see if there are any issues encompassing soil quality, nutrients, or soil dead zones.

Crops require constant fertilization and spraying in order to sustain high yields. This was accomplished manually, with vehicles, or even by an airplane, which methods are inefficient, burdensome, and very costly. Drones can be equipped with large tanks, which can be loaded with fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Using drones for crop spraying is safer and cost-effective than using other methods. Drones can be operated autonomously and programmed to fly on precise schedules and routes.

IoT based remote sensing is another smart technology in farming, which utilizes sensors placed in the fields, such as weather stations for gathering data which is transmitted to analytical devices for analysis. Farmers can monitor the crops from an analytical dashboard and take action based on awareness. IoT farming

Using IoT real-time monitoring and prediction systems, farmers can promptly react to any substantial change in weather, humidity, air quality as well as the health of each crop or soil in the field.

IoT based smart technology enriches the entire agriculture system by monitoring the field in real-time. Using sensors and interconnectivity, the Internet of Things in agriculture saves the time of farmers and reduces the wasteful use of resources such as water and electricity. Because IoT’s crystal clear real-time observations, it keeps various factors like humidity, temperature, and soil under constant surveillance.

Cloud computing allows farmers to better manage crops and their business through applications called software-as-a-service (Saas).  Using these applications, farmers can generate budgets and operational schedules. Farming-specific software is available, where workforce management can be made more efficient.  Work plans, using weather forecasting, can also be designed, and the progress monitored.  

Using the SaaS-based agricultural production management solution, farmers will be able to collect, store and analyze data about a farm’s operations, crop plantings and yields via mobile and tablet devices. Combining these records with historical records, as well as external sensor, weather and map data, farmers can improve operations, earnings and efficiencies.

Smart technology is used in many sectors. Now, it is tailored for farm production.

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AgriTechTomorrow

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