Across Midwest farms, if Girish Chowdhary does his own thing, farmers will one day unleash beagle-sized robots into the fields like herds of hounds washing pheasants. He says the robot will run in the cool shade under a variety of plants to pull weeds, plant cover crops, diagnose plant infections and collect data to help farmers optimize their farms.
Chowdhary, a researcher at the University of Illinois, works surrounded by corn, one of the world’s most productive monocultures. In the United States, the corn industry was valued at $82.6 billion in 2021, but like almost all other sectors of the agricultural economy, it faces tough challenges: changing weather patterns, environmental destructionsevere labor shortageAnd cost rise Main inputs: herbicides, pesticides and seeds.
We are convinced that agribusiness has reached a tipping point where population growth, the economic realities of traditional agriculture, and the convergence of advanced technologies require precision agriculture, which aims to minimize inputs and costs and minimize costs. environmental issues with them.
Basically, there is no field of agriculture that is a big fan of robots and artificial intelligence as a solution to all the problems farmers face today. Their vision ranges from a technology that overlays existing farm practices to a comprehensive rethinking of agriculture that eliminates outdoor activity with tractors, soil, sunlight, weather and elements of farm life.
However, the promise of precision agriculture has still not been met. Because most of the promised systems are not on the market, final prices are rarely set, and there is little valuable real-world data to prove that they work.
“Marketing for precision agriculture is going to have a huge impact,” says Emily Duncan, a research fellow in the Department of Geography, Environment and Geography at the University of Guelph. We don’t have data on this yet. Canada. “Coming back to the desire to reduce input use, that’s not to say that precision agriculture necessarily uses less overall.”
Nevertheless, Chowdhary, co-founder and chief technology officer of Earthsense, a company that makes beagle-sized robots, hopes that adopting his robots will help farmers think about farming businesses far beyond precision farming. A whole new way. He says most farmers now focus on yield. Success is growing more on the same amount of land. The result: horizontal to horizontal, industrial monocultures saturated with chemicals and managed by increasingly expensive and massive machines. With the help of robots, Chowdhary sees a future where small farms grow more in harmony with nature and grow a variety of high-value crops with fewer chemicals.
“The biggest thing we can do is make it easier for farmers to focus on profits, not yields,” Chowdhary said in an email to Undark. “Management tools that help improve land quality and reduce fertilizer and herbicide costs while maintaining yields will help farmers realize more benefits from fundamentally more sustainable technologies.”
Agriculture is oriented towards ‘precision farming’ technology.
Source link Agriculture is oriented towards ‘precision farming’ technology.