The rise in population has led to increased food demand, which in turn, has led to greater pressure on farmers to increase yield and area harvested for various crops. However, global labor shortage in agriculture is one of the major factors leading to loss of yield. To cater to this issue, farmers are highly adopting farm mechanization and other smart agriculture techniques to optimize their crop yields. Smart agriculture involves the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), GPS, cloud machine learning, satellite imagery, and advanced analytics. Harvesting is one of the major phases of farming, and the use of various smart devices increases the output and thus decreases the overall loss.
Products such as GPS, sensors, and various imaging systems are commercialized and offered by various manufacturers, globally. However, there is a limited number of manufacturers for harvesting robots. Majority of the manufacturers have harvesting robots in the testing phase or have launched prototypes and are expected to launch in the market for sales in the near future. For instance, in January 2018, Panasonic Corporation unveiled a prototype of their new fully autonomous tomato-picking robot in Tokyo. The robot is incorporated with high-resolution cameras, sensors, and artificial intelligence features to identify and pick ripe tomatoes. In February 2019, Sony launched an agriculture solution for crop management, which allows efficient crop management and monitoring techniques based on the collection, capture, and analyzation of field data.
The most significant factor driving the smart harvest market is the increasing adoption of new technologies in farming for maximum profitability and production. The use of various devices such as mapping software, variable rate technology (VRT), and yield mapping farmers can increase the fertility, productivity, profitability, and sustainability of crops. Additionally, various government initiatives across the globe have been encouraging farmers to adopt such modern farm technologies, in turn, increasing the sales of smart harvest systems.
What is driving the growth of smart harvest systems?
Improving profitability in farming through the adoption of advanced technologies
Smart harvest systems help growers to obtain more revenue from the agribusiness. They help gain geospatial data of soil, livestock, and plant, and inter- and intra-field information to protect crops from negative environmental impact. These advanced technologies also help to obtain accurate information regarding the application of irrigation water, liquid fertilizers, nutrients, herbicides, and pesticides on fields, thereby reducing the wastage of resources. Mapping software, yield mapping, and other techniques of advanced farming help to increase the fertility, productivity, profitability, and sustainability of crops. Smart harvest technologies offer better insight into the crops to identify and relay the harvest potential to the farmers, leading to an increase in productivity. The impact of this driver is currently significant, as the demand for food across the globe is high, owing to the rapid population growth. Business-oriented agriculturists have been adopting various smart harvest technologies to increase their profits and harvest output.
Furthermore, smart harvest technologies reduce the cost of harvesting, which accounts for 60% of the total cost per hectare. Smart harvest systems aid farmers by providing real-time information regarding crop health and setting up harvest schedules, which are collected with the help of sensors, and this information is transmitted to the central server through electronic devices such as laptops or smartphones. The prospect of data-driven knowledge is expected to bolster prospects for end users in the market. The sensors and weather monitoring systems help identify weather patterns and relay the information to farmers to aid their decision making. This information also helps direct the autonomous robots to identify the right fruits/vegetables to harvest. Data collection in fields helps growers improve productivity.
Cost efficiency benefits offered by smart harvest systems
Harvesting is a highly labor-intensive activity. The use of smart harvest systems in farming improves production efficiency, decreases labor overheads, and enables optimal use of resources. Furthermore, automation is extremely important for large-scale farm operations. Autonomous products for agriculture also provide additional bottom-line savings regarding labor costs. Thus, the cost efficiency provided by robots in farming has a direct impact on the profitability of agricultural farm operations, and as a result, the demand for smart harvest technology is expected to grow among farmers.
About 60% of the production cost in agriculture is spent on labor and tasks performed during harvesting. The harvesting process poses higher potential benefits of robots because of the high labor cost. Air and ground robots are fitted with sensors to harvest data, from which one can analyze and apply the data to instruct the automated harvesters to perform the required activity in the field. Some of the activities performed by robots include identification, movement, and automatic harvesting. It is expected that in the next 10 years, the adoption rate of robots fitted with sensor technology is projected to gain tremendous popularity, thereby rendering manual labor redundant in farms, which could lead to a reduction in labor costs.
Based on region, the smart harvest market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, South America, and the Rest of the World.
Europe accounted for the largest market size in 2017 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 12.16% during the forecast period. The region's high adoption rate for advanced harvesting technologies is likely to contribute to the growth of this market.
The Asia Pacific smart harvest market is projected to grow at the highest CAGR of 14.29% from 2018 to 2023. The growth in this region can be attributed to increased demand from countries such as Japan and China, where the adoption rate for advanced agricultural technologies is high.
Some of the key players in the market are Robert Bosch GmbH (Germany), Deere & Company (US), Smart Harvest Ltd. (UK), Dogtooth Technologies (UK), Harvest Automation (US), Panasonic Corporation (Japan), Root AI (US), Abundant Robotics (US), Iron Ox (US), Agrobot (Spain), Energid Technologies Corp. (US), FFRobotics (Israel), Vision Robotics Corp. (US), Metomotion (Israel), AVL Motion (Netherlands), and Harvest Croo (US).