Technology Continues to Advance in Agriculture
By the year 2050, it is expected that the world population could increase to somewhere around 9 or 10 billion people. In order to be able to feed the population, farmers will have to develop methods to increase production efficiency while using the same amount of land – and even possibly less land as ocean levels continue to rise.
In Salinas Valley, one farm has started using a robot to harvest lettuce. The robot uses high-pressure beams of water to cut the heads of lettuce loose. Then the lettuce head rolls up the mouth of the robot and onto a conveyor belt where workers wait to grab the lettuce and remove the loose leaves.
The workers on this farm have not lost their jobs to a robot, they work alongside it. California farms are facing a labor shortage, so now robots are being used to keep productivity moving forward. The fact is that if farmers expect to be able to continue to feed the heavily increasing population, they are going to need help.
Not only are robots being used to help fill jobs that are left vacant by the lack of fewer people entering the farming workforce, but the product that farms grow are also being modified to make operations easier for the machines. Taylor Farms in California grows a kind of romaine lettuce that has a longer base for the robot to efficiently slice. Workers are adjusting to working with the robot and the farms are adjusting their produce to work with the machine.
The need for help goes beyond just robots. These robots and other forms of artificial intelligence can’t do anything without data. Data will most likely be the driving force of this agricultural revolution. There have been thousands of years of technological advances in the agriculture industry, and this is the next step.
A startup company called AgriData is developing methods for machines to manage the productivity in fields. The technology allows farmers to get a sense of how their fields are producing, which allows them to time their harvests more accurately.
For more information, go to: https://www.wired.com/2017/05/robots-agriculture/