Agriculture Sustainable_Agriculture Smart_Agriculture Smart_Technology

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Yohan Fernando

B.Sc. Agricultural Technology & Management (UoP)
Agricultural Researcher

Our ancestors committed themselves daily to work in the fields throughout the day. Even today it has become a crucial part of the life of most of the farmers, which is considered as an outdated culture according to some experts. The reason being that cultivation and animal husbandry ought to speed up to meet the steadily increasing demand for food. Agricultural production should increase by at least 70% from present trends to meet the projected requirement of 9.7 billion people by 2050.

Farm automation, commonly associated with ‘smart farming’ is the process of utilizing various technological innovations to upgrade and automate agriculture to do it at the field or post-harvest level. Currently different companies propose and introduce different software and automated machinery to smoothly speed up the production process. Out of which drones have piqued the interest of many farmers where they are mainly used to monitor the fields remotely and even used to apply pesticides, fertilizer, and irrigation! Drones such as the Agras MG-1 are able to carry 10 liters of liquid in a single fill and irrigate over 6000m² of farmland in just under 10 minutes. This technology enables the farmers to cut off the cost of labor; the main factor of cost of production. Moreover, drones and similar technology have provided the solution for labor shortage which has been a persistent issue in farming. This has allowed the farmers to expand their production smoothly and efficiently.

Other automated machinery include autonomous tractors and robotics which could be pre-programmed to perform various tasks, from land preparation, to seeding, weeding, and harvesting. Such operations which otherwise require a substantial amount of labor force and time, can now be operated remotely by a single person with the press of a button.

Due to fragmentation of cultivated land area and the reluctance of farmers to automate farming due to financial constraints, lack of knowledge, and the mere reason to be apprehensive, imply that the agricultural sector has a long way ahead before becoming accepted as an automated sector. Having said that, the animal husbandry sector turns out to be a step ahead where medium to large scale poultry, cattle, goat, sheep and swine industries implement smart agricultural practices throughout their process.

Agricultural automation can make agriculture more profitable without a doubt. At the same time, it has proven to become more environmentally friendly, reducing carbon footprint. It is perfectly possible to make maximum use of existing space without compromising existing forest cover. Governments and corporations should intervene in order to make these technologies more affordable. They should propose and execute projects to educate farmers while fortifying such companies. Elzian Agro is one of such companies which works relentlessly to bring forward solutions to address issues pertaining to agriculture and encouraging the farmers to integrate smart farming practices.

We are still at the infancy stage of farm automation. It may seem rocket science at first glance, but within a couple of years it will become a necessity without which farming may seem impossible to feed a hungry planet.