In our latest blogs we looked into how automation will shape the future of the agriculture industry. We saw that there are companies working on robotics technologies in various segments of the agriculture industry such as robot planters or milking robots. Agriculture automation companies are the ones to watch for the future. But where do we find these companies and what do they do exactly? In this blog we’ve listed a few of the companies that we feel are promising great things for the future. Either because they make the work of farmers today easier and lighter, but also because they offer solutions for sustainability in the farming industry.
Helping farmers to turn the tables when it comes to farming in a way that preserves our planet and animals. That is the philosophy of Naïo Technologies. The company offers three types of robots that assist farmers with various tasks. Oz, Ted and Dino are all weeding robots fit for different purposes. One is specifically designed for weeding at vineyards, another for weeding on large-scale vegetable farms. With their blogs written as if the robots are actual persons, Naïo shows the abilities of their robots in the real world. The relatively young company took its first steps around 2010 and has since grown to be an international player in the weeding and harvesting robotics field. The promise? The company is led by two robotics engineers with a creative heart. Key ingredients to become successful in this field.
Bear Flag Robotics
Specialized robots for specific tasks are great, but what if you can have a driverless tractor pulling various kinds of machines? That’s what the engineers at Bear Flag Robotics must have thought. They offer autonomous vehicles that can pull all kinds of equipment to have it work the fields without a driver. The benefit is that not every single piece of specialized equipment needs the robotics technology, but only the tractor does. Farmers still have complete command and control over the vehicle from distance. Data is available about time-to-completion, engine health and even live video feeds! The USA based company believes that their technology can help to reduce the cost of growing crops, while increasing the food production. A must for our global increase in demand for food.
Blue River Technology
This smart agriculture equipment manufacturer answers the need for more efficient and environmental friendly use of herbicides. With computer vision and artificial intelligence they enable machines to detect all plants in the field and make decisions about what to do with them. Their innovation is driven by the threat of increasing herbicide resistance of weeds around the world. The smart machine allows the growers to adjust the safe zone around the crop, the amount of herbicide sprayed on the weed and it even shows the farmer what kind of weeds exist in the field. With this last element, farmers can precisely tailor their herbicide program to what that specific field needs. According to Blue River Technology, this new way of spraying crops will eliminate 90% of the herbicide volumes used by farmers today. As we wrote in the blog about the European Green Deal, this is a must to meet the goals Europe has set for 2030. In 2017 the company was acquired by John Deere and is continuing to develop the abilities of their machines.
All of the companies we described above focus on mostly heavy machinery that can perform specific tasks on the fields. American Robotics offers a different kind of service. With their scout drone system farmers can get detailed insights into the overall status of the field and what the status of specific crops are. The drone will autonomously fly over the fields to collect data that is uploaded into a cloud environment where it can be viewed anywhere, anytime. When the drone is done it will fly back to its charging station which is located in or near the field where the drone operates. This data offers farmers the chance to apply precision farming in an efficient way. We think these drones are a great way to make it easier to use resources more efficiently based on data.
Automation funding by the European Union
Because the EU sees that automation and robotics can increase yield of crops and reduce the ecological footprint of food production they offer funds for robotics projects. For instance, the CROPS project, which aimed to develop clever robots for crop management. This project was completed by the Wageningen University several years ago. The FLOURISH project, which ended in 2018, looked into combining aerial survey capabilities and unmanned ground vehicles to provide information on crops. With this information, educated decisions about crop management could be made with minimal intervention. In the end, an efficient and sustainable way for farmers to increase crop yield. 6 universities and companies participated in this project. Bosch Germany was one of these participants. More funded projects have been completed in the past or are still in operation. Maybe, with the changes necessary to reach the European Green Deal goals, the funding will even increase to speed up the research process.
Both companies and universities that work without governmental aid and those who do will have their part to play in the future of robotics in agriculture. We will continue to follow these developments because we feel it is an important part of creating a sustainable and future proof planet. But also because we believe there are many opportunities in this market for businesses like ours and maybe, also like yours.