Unbeknownst to many, agriculture is just as much at the forefront of technological innovation as any other industry. For generations now, there has been a lot more to farming than ploughs and tractors. But because of the cultural and socioeconomic divide between metropolitan and rural Australia, many people are completely unaware of how their food reaches the supermarket shelves. Feeding 8 billion people requires pretty streamlined production processes as well as heavy use of technologies such as tractors, combine harvesters, global satellite positioning systems, spraying equipment, drones and other automated machinery.
It's true that agriculture is still rooted in millennia-old principles—after all, an apple can still only come from an apple tree—but technology has helped improve efficiency at every stage of production. The upshot of all this is that food production has been able to scale to a point where limited manpower can now feed billions of people. In contrast, pre-industrial revolution farming required significantly more labour to produce far smaller crop yields.
How does technology help agriculture?
New technologies have laid the foundations for precision agriculture, which means higher yields are requiring less labour, less input material such as fertilisers, and are producing less waste than ever before. One of the primary drivers behind technological advances is automation.
Automation refers to the deferring of human labour to machines. This can either be for greater precision or increase labour capacity by mechanisation rather than relying on humans to manually pick crops or plant seeds.
Where farming has improved most through technology is the ability to apply large-scale inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides. Previously, farming capacity was limited by what the soil could facilitate, and even then, farmers were pretty much at the whim of pests which could cause entire crops to be destroyed. Thanks to fertilisers and pesticides that can be applied by spreaders, farmers have far greater control over soil conditions, and can almost completely prevent damage from pests due to the mass distribution of protective chemicals. This enables farmers to exploit much larger areas of land with a far greater success rate.
What are some examples of farming automation?
Drones in agriculture can be used for several purposes, such as measuring soil quality and mapping out the size of the fields. They can also be used for irrigation—a task that is otherwise very labour-intensive—so using drones for this purpose can help save a lot of time and effort.
Drones can control water flow by precisely determining how much water is needed in each spot in the field. They can also be used for crop assessment, which is a process that detects disease and pest infestations in crops. This can help farmers keep a close eye on their produce and address problems early before they escalate.
Robots can be used to help farmers with seed planting. By placing the seed in the soil, a robot can speed up the planting process while ensuring that they're planted at the proper depth and with the correct spacing.
Analytics and Monitoring Farming Tools
Digital technologies such as analytical farming tools can help determine soil conditions as well as other input materials like fertiliser and seeds. By using a variety of sensors, farmers can get insight into the status of their fields and make decisions accordingly. This can help prevent the spread of disease while maximising the yield of a harvest.
The invention of the tractor in the early 20th century was a huge technological advancement at the time. It massively increased production capacity. But with current yield requirements, regular human-operated tractors sometimes no longer cut the mustard.
Automated tractors, along with an array of tractor implements, use several technologies to help farmers use them more efficiently and with a lot less effort. Tractors can be outfitted with tracking devices to help the driver and the farmer keep track of the tractor's location in the fields.
The GPS and mapping systems help locate obstacles, and the automatic steering system helps prevent accidents and collisions. These systems work together and help the farmer get the most from the tractor, and ultimately, the field.
GIS, or geographic information system, is more of an umbrella term that relates to the above-mentioned agricultural technology. It uses GPS technology to capture, store, check, and display data related to positions on the earth’s surface. It then uses artificial intelligence to determine which areas of a crop may need watering or fertilising, or if there is a problem in any particular location of a crop.
Why do we need modern agriculture?
The agricultural industry is experiencing something of a double-whammy effect, with a greater demand for products for an increasing global population combined with dwindling interest in farming as a career. Overall, young people are tending to migrate away from rural areas and towards the cities, so the agricultural sector has no choice but to innovate in order to meet demands.
It's also important to use intelligent farming techniques to reduce the impact of climate change. The green revolution demands that environmental impacts be kept to a minimum, so improving agricultural efficiency is necessary. Additionally, precision farming helps to reduce food waste while shoring up the supply chain from paddock to plate.
At Boya Equipment, we understand your agricultural needs, and we strive to provide our customers with the best quality equipment as the industry evolves. Have a look at our online catalogue to see our wide range of state-of-the-art heavy equipment and other farming technology. We're here to make sure you're at the forefront of new agriculture technology.