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tech farming john deere autonomous drone sprayer in field

Tech Farming and Robot Farmers

Tech farming is on the rise. The agriculture industry is using technology to create massive change. From artificial intelligence and drone technology to electric tractors, agriculture is becoming more disruptive by the year. The pace of technological innovation in farming is quite remarkable. Part of the reason is that one of the leading agriculture businesses - John Deere - has embraced digital transformation and technological innovation to drive advancement. As a result of its tech ambition, it has established itself firmly as the market leader. You can read more about the process of digital transformation in our article here. 

Here are some of the most impressive and recent tech farming innovations: 

Artificially intelligent weed spraying

John Deere have developed ‘see and spray’ technology which was launched in March 2021 and is now commercially available. The technology can be installed on John Deere sprayers. It uses high resolution cameras which capture 20 images/second. The artificial intelligence algorithms are able to recognise from the photographs which plants are weeds and which are crops. The sprayer then activates only on the weeds, leaving the crops free from chemicals. This system purportedly reduces the use of weed killer by 77%. This clever technology is saving farmers money by reducing the amount of chemicals needed and helping to improve soil quality and reduce the amount of toxic chemicals in the human food chain (many of which have been proven to cause cancer). This is a great example of technology making businesses more efficient and improving the lives of citizens. 

Electric, self driving tractors

tech farming with john deere automated electric tractor in field

The technology of Tesla comes to the farm! One of the most exciting and radical developments in farming tech is the arrival of electric, automated, driverless tractors. Food production creates some of the highest rates of CO2 emissions in any industry. Electric vehicles - assuming they are charged with renewable electricity - have the potential to drastically cut carbon emissions in the agriculture industry. But innovation isn’t stopping there - these electric tractors drive themselves. Whilst self driving technology is still being perfected, the days when an autonomous electric tractor trundles around a field by itself are not far away. 

Autonomous drone sprayers 

If self-driving tractors moving almost silently around fields isn’t impressive enough, imagine autonomous drones, flying above crops to target weeds. Or just watch a video of them, because they already exist. These drones come in a variety of sizes, with the largest able to handle a selection of attachments to perform a range of functions. They can cover 6 hectares an hour, autonomously and the battery lasts for 30 minutes. Using a drone means spraying can be done in any conditions, and less damage is done to the topsoil. 

What next in tech farming? Robot farmers?

Tech farming robot farmers robot in background

We have seen Elon Musk at Tesla using their autonomous driving AI to create household robots. They will do the dishes, clean and take care of the laundry. These robots are still in development, but the technology is capable of releasing this vision. It may not be long before we see robot farmers tending our crops across the countryside. 

Does tech farming put jobs at risk? 

We are in the midst of a continuous tech revolution. The world has undergone tech revolutions before - the last one was brought about by the invention of the world wide web. Before that we had the computer, made possible by the rise of electricity. Before that was the steam engine. Tech revolutions are a continuous process and a result of the inquisitive, problem-solving nature of humanity. 

Every previous revolution caused fear and insecurity at the time it was happening. But ultimately, it resulted in better quality, safer jobs. Tech revolutions clearly do lead to  the extinction of less skilled work roles. The invention of the tractor made countless farm hands redundant. This tech revolution is no different - it will eliminate labour intensive roles and create safer, less physically arduous but far more highly skilled positions. The tech sector is already booming - those with tech skills are in high demand as every industry turns to digital transformation. 

A consequence of this is that people who do not upskill will be left behind. That is already happening. But eventually a high level of tech skill will become normal. Education systems around the globe will catch up and the world will adapt. If you are considering a career change to tech, but haven't quite committed yet, read our article on common barriers to tech careers. 

Make sure your business stays ahead of the tech innovations so you don’t get left behind. The world is moving at its fastest pace of innovation yet and that pace is getting faster by the year. Innovation will either work for you, or against you. Make sure it works for you. Contact us now to see how we can help you use tech innovation to get the competitive edge

At Volanto we are digital transformation and tech specialists. We have spent decades designing and implementing digital innovation strategies, and building the software behind them. Tech farming and agritech are one of the areas we operate in. 

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