According to Forbes, “estimates suggest we’ll have to increase food production by as much as 68 per cent by 2050”.
The exponential growth in population resulted in the increased demand for food, and; satisfying the food demand is the biggest challenge our planet faces.
Fun Fact: Did you know that agriculture, forestry, and land use make up 18.4 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions, while the rest is down to other factors like packaging, refrigeration, and transport?
However, to address and resolve the ever-increasing food crisis situation, introducing and implementing agricultural innovations and modern methods of food production is the need of the hour. Earlier, farming practices were driven by mechanical advancements like bigger machinery or genetic advances like better seeds, effective fertilisers, etc. Modern-day agricultural transformation is driven by digital tools such as Automation (involving the use of robots, drones, and autonomous tractors) and Precision Farming (involving applying fertilisers, pesticides, and practising irrigation depending on the crop’s requirements instead of uniform application at set times, quantities, and frequencies).
In this blog, we have talked about automation in agriculture and how it impacts agribusinesses.
Automation in Agriculture: A Synopsis
Agricultural automation refers to implementing advanced technologies and robotics to streamline and optimise different farming processes. Comprising the use of advanced machinery, sensors, and software systems automation perform tasks that are traditionally carried out by humans but only ensure better efficiency, productivity, and sustainability in the agricultural sector.
The use of autonomous machinery such as self-driving tractors and harvesters is one significant aspect of automation in agriculture. These machines can navigate fields, perform precise operations like seeding and spraying, and collect data on soil conditions and crop health. Automation helps farmers save time and minimise overall costs by eliminating the need for human labour in repetitive or physically demanding tasks.
At the same time, automation also helps in the processing and packaging stages of agriculture. To sort fruits, vegetables, and other products-based on size, shape, colour, and quantity, advanced sorting and grading systems are implemented that use computer vision and machine learning algorithms. These advanced systems ensure consistency and accurate grading, reduce waste, and enhance product quality.
Additionally, automation in agriculture leads to agricultural sustainability. Implementing precision agriculture powered by automation, farmers can minimise water usage, fertiliser usage, and pesticide usage by precisely targeting the areas where they are required. Not only does it minimise environmental impact but also promotes the overall health of crops and soil.
Along with the multiple advantages that automation offers, there are a few challenges to implementing automation in agriculture like the initial cost of implementing automated systems and training and technical support requirements for farmers. That said, automation in agriculture is a revolutionary opportunity to enhance productivity, optimise resource utilisation, and meet the growing demands for food in this rapidly evolving world.
Impact of Implementing Automation in Agriculture
Automation has immense potential in enhancing efficiency and productivity on farms which lead to increased profit margins and a more sustainable industry.
Here are some of the advantages of automation in agriculture:
- Better Efficiency: Automation helps expedite agricultural processes, minimises the requirement for manual labour, and minimises the risks of human error. It also enhances the efficiency of your farming operations which in turn leads to better profits.
- Cost-savings: Automation helps minimise the cost of labour and the cost of inputs like seeds and fertilisers as implementing technology to optimise these helps save money.
Note: Adopting automation comes with a potential risk of replacing human labour, increasing concerns about job loss.
- Enhanced Quality: Implementing automation helps enhance the quality of crops or livestock, for example, to ensure cows are milked on time, robotic milkers are beneficial that in turn help enhance milk production and quality.
- Better Productivity: Through automation, the overall automation of farms gets enhanced, for example, precision agriculture helps optimise irrigation and fertilisation that leads to better crop yields.
- Enhanced Sustainability: The environmental impact of farming operations can get minimised by implementing automation, for example, precision agriculture helps reduce water usage, fertiliser usage, and pesticide usage, which help minimise the carbon footprint of the farm.
- Enhanced Safety: Automation helps enhance the safety of farms by minimising the risk of accidents and injuries, for example, robotic milking systems help minimise the risk of slips and falls on slippery surfaces.
- Enhanced Animal Welfare: The welfare of animals on farms can be improved by implementing automation, for example, robotic milking minimises the stress on cows that lead to healthy and happy animals.
- Enhanced Data Management: Implementing automation enhances the accuracy and efficiency of your data, for example, precision farming helps in tracking and analysing data related to irrigation, fertilisation, and crop yields that help farmers make informed decisions about their farm’s future.
- Better Precision: The precision of farming operations can get enhanced due to automation, for example, precision farming optimises the use of water, fertilisers, and pesticides that lead to consistent crop yields.
- Better Control: Through automation, you can get better control over your farming operations, for example, by implementing precision farming, you can monitor and control irrigation and fertilisation practices in real time which in turn helps make quick and informed decisions.
P.S. Other than loss of employment, there’s another drawback of implementing automation in agriculture which is, the upfront cost of purchasing and maintaining machines can be challenging, especially for smaller farms or farmers with limited resources.
Automation has a significant role in the future of agriculture. However, as a farmer, you need to consider both the pros and cons of automation before implementing it.
To know more about automation in agriculture, especially concerning Australian farmers, contact us at KG2 Australia. We have the largest Australian farmers database adhering to which will help you make informed decisions.