Trends in Farming Automation Technology
Agriculture and Farming
I would like to put light on two different yet same terms confused by many of us, Farming and Agriculture. Farming is more of an activity or business of growing crops and raising livestock. Whereas, Agriculture is the science or practice of farming. Agriculture includes cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products. To simplify, If farming is a business then agriculture is the vital science needed to run that business. Without the knowledge of agriculture, farming would be a vague and stupid business to do.
“Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation but the only riches she can call her own”, said Dr. Samuel Johnson-the great English writer and poet and a distinguished man of letters.
Well, that’s cent percent true! Agriculture and the amateur farming techniques which developed later played a key role in those sluggish times of human history. Earlier our fellow humans struggled to fill their bellies. These hungry humans then developed and nurtured something that I was talking about. Something which not only satisfied their hunger, but was also beneficial to the prosperity of the nation in providing the 4 F’s: food, feed, fiber, and fuel necessary for our survival.
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The history of Agriculture in India dates back to Indus Valley Civilisation Era. At present, India ranks second worldwide in farm output. Agriculture and allied sectors like forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture accounted for about 17% of the gross domestic product in 2015, and about 50% of the workforce. The economic contribution of agriculture to India’s GDP is steadily declining with the country’s broad-based economic growth. Still, agriculture is demographically the broadest economic sector and plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic fabric of India.
What does the future hold?
If our creed continues to breed at the same rate, the United Nations has serious reasons to worry. Why the rate of our reproduction is a cause of worry to the UN? And What kind of impact will all this have on our future sustainability and survival? Are questions that we should ask and raise now itself.
According to the United Nation’s prediction, we will be 9 billion by 2050. When I say ‘WE’, I refer to our very own selfish, self-indulgent, bacterial and virus-like race, reluctant to make peace with the planet, unlike other species. Experts say with the given limited land, water, and labor resources, the efficiency of agricultural productivity must increase by 25% to meet that goal while limiting the growing pressure that agriculture puts on the environment. Looking at the all the predictions and statistics, achieving something of this sort will definitely be a challenge. To overcome this challenge, steps in the right direction should be taken which will elevate the standards of agricultural engineering and innovation.
Since many decades robots and automation has played an important role in increasing the efficiency and effectively reducing the cost involved in producing the product. By incorporating automation, precision and smart technologies to new and existing farming equipments, we can optimize efficiency, sustainability and reliability of our produce and enhance our economy.
Let us see what are some of the trends in farming that can revolutionize the way we look at farming and agriculture.
Agribots or Agbots
Agricultural robots or agbot is a robot deployed for agricultural purposes. The main area of application of robots in agriculture today is at the harvesting stage. A possible emerging application of robots or drones is for weed control. The thought of using robots must have come to the mind when the necessity to reduce human labor and cost involved in farming was felt and now many farm jobs are being automated.
Lettuce weeding is one of the first where the cost of robots now matches human labor. The problem lies in harvesting low-value crops where the cost remains too high. With little more advancements in the field(robotics) we will certainly get to see more is what I feel. Robots of different kinds are also used to milk cows and buffalos in the UK.
Satelite Farming originated in US and European countries where farms are generally big (over 100 hectares). It is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops. The goal of precision agriculture research is to define a decision support system(DSS). For whole farm management, the goal is to optimize returns on inputs while preserving resources. it sees extensive use of Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) for precise mapping of farms and – with appropriate software – informs the farmer about the status of his crop and which part of the farm requires inputs like water, fertilizer, and pesticide etc.
A lot can be achieved with the use of these techniques such as; More precise decisions regarding planting, growing, harvesting and transportation can be taken. A study suggests that 90% of all crop damages are due to weather. With the help predictive weather modeling and Precision techniques, this damage could be reduced up to 25%. A significant decrease in the wastage of resources and higher crop yields can be achieved.
Big Data applications generally create predictions based on analysis of what has occurred. This means that if the science of agriculture is not integrated within the sector’s Big Data applications, serious mistakes could result as Big Data helps us to find out the why? By drawing patterns and predictions which can useful in deciding future plans. The challenge here is turning Big data into useful data in order to, (as I mentioned) get useful readings from what has happened.Fortunately, we don’t have to rely only on the observations of what has happened. Modern agriculture is predicated on knowing and applying the why that drives crop and livestock production.
Major chemical companies are focusing their attention on using biological organisms to battle weeds, insects, and diseases. These products control pests by using methods which are vastly different than conventional methods used for chemical control.
The future of country now lies on how these upcoming trends are perceived. With the help of experts and government support, a roadmap for the future can be laid. This can help in bringing the next green revolution to India and can produce tremendous rural wealth in a sustainable and environmental way.