Agriculture This Week: The future lies in robotics

Apr 19, 2024

Certain topics in agriculture have tended to dominate farm media – this column included – over the years.

For example the protracted debate which finally led to the elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board. The Port of Churchill, and the evolutionary move to zero till farm practices would be such topics.

Currently, the trend toward robotic agriculture is added to the list.

There is no doubt in this writer’s mind that robotic farming is the next big thing in terms of on-farm operations.

Just what the future will look like is of course an unknown. In many ways the basic foundation of robotic technology is very much in its infancy, and what improvements will be made in the next decade will be beyond what most of us can even start to imagine.

Then how that technology is adapted to agricultural applications is another facet of development which is going to be significant, if not fully understood today.

So it’s hardly surprising to see a story about DLG (the German Agricultural Society), which organizes Agritechnica, the world’s largest farm machinery show, adding a new feature to its upcoming outdoor Feldtage (field days) event to do exactly that.

“FarmRobotix is to become a platform that will supply farmers with relevant information,” said Malene Conlong, DLG’s international press liaison in the article.

Robotics have been part of the annual field days event for several years, including a design competition for field robotics. The FarmRobotix focus will emphasize that element of emerging technology.

The addition to the show is simply testament to the realization of the importance of robotics, and with that in mind how critical it is to keep the producer aware of what is emerging in the field.

When I think back my father quit school so he could focus on working horses in the field, and he lived to see four-wheel drive tractors with air conditioned cabs and radios.

Had he lived only a couple of decades longer he would have seen the earliest autonomous tractors, and drone technology.

Imagine what a younger farmer today – to quit school at 14 – will see a half century from now.  What will robots being doing in our word and on our farms in 2074?

It’s a question even the likes of Isaac Asimov would find challenging to imagine, but it will most certainly be greatly different from the typical farming of today.

Change is a constant and that includes how farmers farm.

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