Robots, iPhones Now Make Tending Crops Easier For Farmers

Oct 02, 2015 10:41 AM EDT
Farm Drone
Treating the challenge of feeding the world's population, which could hit 12 billion this century, as an engineering/technological problem could transform modern agriculture.

Technology has been advancing by leaps and bounds and, naturally, it benefits other aspects of human life besides the areas of entertainment and communication. Farming is a case in point, as robots, drones and even the iPhone are now replacing human workers in growing and tending human food.

There is, for instance, an increasing reliance on drones and robots that work in tandem in farming. 

"The concept is that the UAV (drone) will go into the sky and perform its surveillance operation," mechatronic engineering research fellow Cheryl McCarthy told The Chronicle. "It will identify where there are areas of interest - low growth, weeds, diseases. "It will transmit that information to the ground-based robot, which will then go out and apply chemicals (with a spray boom and a tank)."

The concept of networked farming could explain the issue further.  Here, a large swathe of farm land is cultivated by a fleet of "farmhands" composed of GPS-guided tractors and drones within a computer system that provide highly customized work. Farmers could, for instance, measure soil acidity and nutrient levels through this precision agriculture and apply the appropriate fertilizer to specific plants, according to Popular Science.

There are also available systems that integrate farming management with mobile devices such as the iPhone. For example, a farmer could download an app that will alert him with a change of soil temperature. There is also a dedicated farming platform called FarmOS, which helps farmer manage and plan farm operations better. It is available for free on its website

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