Futuristic Farming - Artificial Intelligence in Farm Machinery

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Doddakurugodu is a small village in the Chikkaballapur district in Karnataka. The village has a majority of farmers growing paddy, Finger Millet (Ragi), and maize. Venkataramappa is one such retired farmer who has lived all his life in the same village and cultivated ragi. While having a chat with him, he spoke about the physical effort that went into land plowing when he used to be active in agriculture back then in his day. When he was told that tractors now don’t even need a human to be present inside them and the robots can do all the tasks of farming, he laughs and asks if we were messing around with him. The reality of today which was a yesteryear dream shows how rapidly modern technology is bringing in the revolution in farming.

Keep reading to know more about futuristic farming and the application of AI in agriculture.

Agri-Tech Farm Machinery:

If Agriculture was a locomotive, then farm machinery would be its wheels. The operations of farming for which machines are used are numerous. The usage of machinery is all over the farm chain starting from handling residues of previous crops to the tillage of the soil, distribution and fertilizer application, seeding, harvesting, storing, and transporting the yield. Farm machinery is also a lifesaver for the farm when it comes to pest control and erosion control. What started from a pickle and a shovel, today has transformed into agricultural bots and drone monitoring systems, driverless tractors, automated sprinklers, and self harvesting machines.

One of the best pictures mirroring the use of AI in agriculture, automated tractors or driverless farm equipment can be best used to conduct labor-intensive farming, thereby allowing farmers the much-needed scope to indulge in other tasks. One of the biggest benefits of driverless tractors is that these automated machines can harvest 24x7. Plus, they are capable of working in any weather condition, thus lowering a farmer’s fatigue significantly. Also, in comparison to heavy tractor machinery, driverless tractors are much lighter and reduce soil compaction as well.

Not just crops, farm machinery is also a major part of livestock management. The shepherd can actually relax under a shaded tree now, thanks to tag-monitored livestock, automated feeding, bedding, and guided grazing.

AI in Farm Machinery:

AI in farming has almost eliminated the challenges of traditional farming and empowered the farmer to be future-ready. Through the data AI collects and analyses, it forms a knowledge repository for the farmers to rely on. The agriculture industry strongly and openly embraces AI into their practice to change the overall outcome. The application of Artificial Intelligence in farm machinery is diverse. We specifically look at two such applications in this blog and the changes they bring through their implementation.

Agricultural Bots – Automated Farming

Agricultural bots are specifically designed robots to implement automation in agriculture. In simple terms, they are efficient laborers who work without sweating too much (or any sweat, actually). They are a blend of mechanics and software implementation that eliminates the need for manpower in the area of implementation.

The mechanical design of a fully functioning agri-bot typically consists of an end effector, manipulator, and gripper. The end effector is customized based on the requirements of the farm. The gripper is more of a mechanical support system to the application. The gripper’s design is based on the crop that is being harvested. The manipulator is designed based on the economic efficiency, required tasks, and motion requirements of the robot. Agriculture bots have been applied in every step of farming in recent times to promote the use of AI in agriculture. From harvesting, weeding, potting, picking, and spraying, the agri-bots have made life a little more easier for the farmers.

The agri-bot industry is seeing a clear and increasing boom in its market ever since the year of implementation. The agri-bot industry estimated to be worth around $2.75 billion, is the 2nd biggest market for professional robotics. A projection of 20% growth is expected by 2022, say some researchers. There may rise a concern that these bots will take away farm employment from unskilled laborers, but in reality, these bots will, in fact, help the laborers by reducing the burden on them and will be disruptive in handling farm labor shortage.

smart farming equipment infographic

Self-Driving Combines

Self-driving combines are automated tractors that can function autonomously and are most commonly known as ‘Driverless Tractors’. They deliver a high tractive effort without the presence of a human inside the tractor. They are programmed to be self-observant, decide the speed, and avoid obstacles such as people, animals, or objects in the field while performing their tasks.

Some of the driverless tractors work on supervised autonomy. They are automated tractors but with a supervisor and they use Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) technology for communication and control. AI implementation into these self-driving combines ensures safety in applications and ensures they learn constantly through the self-observational data they collect. This reduces accidents related to unmanned vehicles and increases productivity through technological intervention.

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Now, imagine empowering these autonomous vehicles with the power of artificial intelligence. AI-based algorithms would make them self-evolving, self-learning, and self-developing in terms of efficient decision-making. The farm management solutions, when combined with AI-powered automation will result in wonders for farmers.

While AI-based automation will ensure higher levels of productivity and create a self-evolving system, the farm management solution will provide these systems with accurate data to make decisions on and monitor the entire process. Additionally, the farm management system will also act as a knowledge repository for the farmers and the actuators as well. An entire AI-based sustainable agritech ecosystem can be created and the results on the farmland would be outstanding, to say the least.

Harnessing AI technology into farm machinery is what Cropin has been consistently working on. Cropin has leveraged its smart solutions to leading farm machinery enterprise giants to provide farmers with digital tools and agricultural insights along with the farm machinery. This will not only boost their productivity but also educate them on better agricultural practices and provide quick aid and advisories on taking timely actions against unforeseen situations.

AgTech has ensured the future of agriculture looks bright and shiny with its ever-evolving systems and diverse applications. Artificial intelligence in farm machinery will be the icing on the cake that is AgTech – the real plow-t twist that is yet to come!

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