Robotics and Agriculture: The Future of Precision Farming

When you hear the word ‘agriculture’, robotics is not what usually comes to mind. However, the truth is that technology and agriculture are deeply intertwined. Last week, the latest advancements in drone technology and artificial intelligence were shown to Governor’s School for Agriculture students, myself included.

Dr. David Haak and his PhD students presented their work. A massive drone with seven helicopter-like blades rose above our heads almost effortlessly, sending a cloud of dirt across the field. This drone could not only take pictures of the land below, but could be instructed to spray specific sections of it with water, fertilizer, dye, and more. With additional GPS tracking and infrared cameras, the drone could also monitor the health of the land below. What does this mean for the future of agriculture?

Drones and other robotics are being used in what is known as precision agriculture, which uses high tech satellites and other machines to manage specific parts of agricultural operations. Instead of spraying an entire crop with pesticides or water, these new drones can be programmed to spray the areas that need it. As a result, much less material is used while still gaining the desired effect. While this technology is too expensive for minor operations, industrial farms can use it to create more sustainable productions and save valuable resources. The future of farming is precision agriculture, and these drones are leading us there.

-om

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