Industrial robots are no longer a preserve of manufacturing industries. They have moved out of the factory and are out there in the fields. Agriculture, is one of the most prominent industries that was not a major robotics field that is now filled with robots for each and every activity.
As the world’s population grows and demand for food rises, there is a need to improve the production capacity in the agriculture industry and robots are a main driver of increased productivity.
Listed are some of the main applications in which robots are assigned tasks in the agriculture industry.
1. Milking cows
The dairy industry is one of the major sectors of the agriculture industry. In this sector, milk a major source of protein and raw material for lots of dairy products is produced.
As individual milk producers and processors merger, their entities get so large that the usual basic tasks such as milking require lots of farmhands to handle it. This is a major cost in the industry.
To solve this problem, the dairy sector has decided to turn to robots. Robot systems capably milk hundreds of cows in minutes. A feat that would be extremely impossible if the dairy farms just relied on their small labor force or very expensive if they had to hire a laborer for each cow.
Robots spray disinfectants on the cows’ udders in preparation for and after completing the milking process.
2. Herding and shepherding
Cattle are kept in expansive ranches. Australia, a leading cattle ranching country is implementing the use of robots in the form of drones to shepherd their large herds of cattle. Drones are sent out over the ranch in search of the cattle to help round them up.
Before drones, the ranch owners used helicopters for this task. This has made ranching very expensive.
3. Mapping and soil analysis
When it comes to farming, it is important for farmers to identify the state of their soils and the parts of their land that are suitable for planting different crops.
Drones are fitted with cameras and sensors that receive information from sensors on the ground on the state of the soil in different parts of the field in preparation for planting.
Drones are also used to inspect crops through the cameras that relay the feed to a central unit. They can also identify parts of the land that require further irrigation.
Industrial robots systems are also used in agriculture for irrigation. Irrigation systems are set on rails and irrigate large swathes of farmland and crops efficiently and effectively.
This form of irrigation helps large farms lower their financial costs and use water efficiently and an important resource in their trade.
The use of drones also indicates parts of the farm that may require extra irrigation as a result of being dryer and hotter than other parts of the land. Specially designed agriculture drones can easily measure heat levels and soil dryness in parts of the land.
5. Planting, care and harvesting
Robots are also used to plant, take care of and harvest the plants. Small unmanned tractors can traverse the land preparing and planting the seeds into the ground together with a nutrient pack of all the nutrients that they will need to germinate and grow.
Once they are grown, the autonomous tractors still go through the land, weeding and inspecting the health of the plants. Drones can be used to spray the crops with fertilizer and other plant health chemicals.
The tractors are also used to harvest the crop when the time for harvesting comes.
Robots in agriculture are highly efficient and accurate. Like in all other industries where robots are applied, there are large cost savings especially now that robots and robot systems are much easier to access and acquire.
Robots will help improve the productivity in the agriculture industry enabling the world to keep on feeding even when there isn’t an increase in arable fertile land.