+36 70 203-3120 | agrowebsystem@gmail.com | Blog | Contact

Autonomous and new technologies in agriculture

  • 213

Tell us about Fieldin, including the recent acquisition of Midnight Robotics.

Fieldin is a next-generation smart farming platform that helps high-value crop farmers manage and optimize their farms through a first-of-its-kind platform that combines sensor-based operational monitoring and insights with autonomous driving technologies.

Fieldin’s platform collects real-time farm data, translates it into actionable insights and offers growers guided operational decision-making – all from a single dashboard. In 2021, we acquired Midnight Robotics, an industry leader in agricultural autonomous driving. Midnight’s IP will allow us to leverage the strengths of our platform to lead the industry on the path to autonomous farming and beyond.

What are the biggest issues facing commercial farmers today?

The main issues facing commercial farmers today include labour shortages, rising production costs, resource scarcity and climate change. The combination of these factors places a huge burden on farmers, who are already under great pressure to manage their farms and production effectively. These problems are not going away anytime soon, and farmers are seeking to address them by harnessing innovative technologies that optimise operations and focus on efficiency. By adopting next-generation farming solutions, farmers can do more with fewer resources and ultimately thrive in the face of challenges.

Where is the agriculture industry today in terms of technology, and what technology trends do you think will shape 2022 and beyond?

Most farmers today know they need to improve the way their farms operate to mitigate industry challenges such as labor shortages, labor costs and water scarcity. We predict two major operational efficiency trends in the coming year: first, the rise of sensor-based operational monitoring, which gives farmers full visibility of their farm through data collection and analysis; and second, the autonomous execution of farming tasks through self-driving tractors and other machinery. Autonomous farming solutions were once concepts of the distant future, but we are on the road to commercially viable solutions and will soon begin to see them. These two emerging technologies, especially when used together, will completely redefine farming operations and efficiency.

Do you find farmers hesitant to adopt emerging technologies?

Our experience has shown that farmers are not hesitant to adopt new technologies. Farmers are rational decision-makers and are reluctant to adopt solutions that do not address their immediate needs.

However, farmers are open to any new process or solution that will improve the health, efficiency and profitability of their farms. Take autonomous driving as an example. We don’t yet have fully developed autonomous driving technology, and even so – we expect agriculture to be the first industry to adopt automated driving technology.

We are currently working with about 200 farmers worldwide, including five of the 10 largest farms in California. Our platform supports more than 20% of global almond production and 30% of US lettuce production. Since we introduced the path to autonomous farming, we’ve seen even more interest in our platform, showing that there is indeed an organic demand among farmers to move to autonomous solutions.

Why do you think there is hesitancy to embrace technology and how can these hesitations be overcome?

Contrary to popular belief, we consistently find that farmers are actually open to adopting new technologies. Nevertheless, several criteria must be met. If a technology is easy to deploy and use, makes life easier on the farm, has a tangible return on investment, and is compatible with existing processes and technologies, then farmers are not only open to these solutions, but also eager to adopt them. If the technologies do not meet the needs of the farm, farmers will rightly reject them. Technology for technology’s sake will never work in this sector. In the long run, technologies that respect farmers’ everyday needs and give them a seat at the table during the development process will win out.

The sector is currently moving from traditional farming to digital smart farming to autonomous farming and beyond, and every step along the way is important. First, farmers need to have full visibility into the day-to-day operations of their fields, which is only possible with a smart farming platform. Having this data will deepen their knowledge of their land and ultimately allow them to apply autonomous technologies to their farm to maximise its potential.

Fieldin’s platform provides data collection and farm management services, and existing machinery can also be equipped with autonomous execution capabilities. Together, these strengths will support farmers on the path to autonomous farms in a way that is manageable, low risk and delivers a clear return on investment.

Why data collection and analysis is so important to the evolution of agricultural technology?

The future of agriculture will be defined by sophisticated operational systems, including autonomous execution, which will ensure that every step of the farming process is standardized and optimized. It is important to understand that autonomous farming equipment and decision support are only as good as the data that drives them. The meticulous collection and analysis of field data is essential for the self-driving future of agriculture, where the data will be used to train algorithms, make accurate recommendations on the type of implementation needed, and create customized, optimized operational plans. The powerful combination of data and robotics will close the loop from observation to insight to autonomous action, so farmers know exactly what they need to do and can execute it autonomously.

How do you see agriculture in 5 years? In 10 years?

In the next 5-10 years, the dream of a fully autonomous farm will become a reality. Autonomous farms will be managed by sophisticated operating systems capable of managing mixed fleets, including autonomous and conventional farm equipment.

In five years, most commercial farms will meet the need for data collection and operational monitoring by moving to an intelligent farming platform. And many will have adopted autonomous farming technologies to some degree in that time – again, a journey, not a leap. The next few years of adoption of autonomous technologies will provide many lessons for all industry players and the landscape will be dynamic.

In 10 years, when the impact of climate change will be even more tangible than today and the world population is expected to grow to more than 8.5 billion people, the agricultural sector will be under even greater pressure to optimise resources and maximise yields. We are still in the early adopter phase of autonomous agriculture technology, but sooner or later, increasing global constraints will unlock the value of platform-driven robotic solutions and we will cross the tipping point.

In addition to increasing the efficiency and profitability of individual farms, the dual adoption of smart agriculture platforms and autonomous solutions will allow the sector to become more transparent and sustainable while working to feed a growing global population.

Source: https://www.agritechtomorrow.com/article/2022/01/autonomous-and-emerging-technology-in-farming/13437/