Robots May Lead Future of Agriculture

Tuesday, 19 February, 2019 - 06:15
San Francisco, London - Asharq Al-Awsat

Agriculture, one of the world's oldest vocations, is also one that continues to reinvent itself with new technology and robotics invading every aspect of our life.

Two University of Florida professors say robots and information technology will rule the roost on farms in the coming years.

"The farmers of the future are likely to be data scientists, programmers and robot wranglers," they suggest, according to the German news agency.

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professors Senthold Asseng said: "I think we will see the first farm trying to put all this technology together in the next few years.”

In the face of global challenges to produce more food, the researchers urge scientists and growers to radically rethink their approaches to farming, especially since farmers face constraints, such as high labor costs and dwindling land on which to grow crops.

Heavy machinery, used in place of higher labor costs, has compacted soil, leading to reduced root growth, lower soil fertility and eventually, less yield, the researchers said in statements published by the Tech Xplore website.

Replacing heavy machinery with autonomous lightweight robots and drones can overcome soil compaction and make food production more sustainable.

According to the two researchers, more recent technological advances include robots and drones that can operate autonomously 24/7, collect large amounts of farm data and carry out tasks on the field.

The collected information can be used to optimize food production and resource use resulting in higher yields with less fertilizer and pesticides, the researchers say.

Asseng sees all these innovations benefitting society, farming and the environment.

It will help with increasing food production and at the same time increase sustainability, along with opening up new opportunities for other jobs like "developing and maintaining robots, drones, software and more."

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