Agriculture equipment has come a long way from the days of horse-drawn plows and dibbles. The industry is innovating faster than ever. Smart-farming technology is taking ag equipment to the next level, allowing for more efficiency, higher volume, and faster production. Keep up with these growing industry trends with Equipment Trader’s 12 amazing pieces of ag technology.
Autonomous farm equipment can help ensure more efficient planting, spraying, and harvesting, leading to larger crop production. Here are some pieces of autonomous equipment that have been developed:
- Autonomous Tractors: Several OEMs are producing lines of semi- and fully-autonomous tractors. There has been an increased demand in tractors that are equipped with automatic steering and data collection systems.
- Autonomous Sprayers: Similar to unmanned tractors, autonomous sprayers move row to row without a driver, working faster and more consistently. A farmer can monitor the fleet of sprayers from anywhere without the risk of being exposed to the chemicals.
- AI Farm Equipment: Recently, manufacturers have ventured into funding technology that incorporates the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in autonomous equipment. In fact, a machine-learning platform, that utilizes Facebook’s facial recognition AI, has been used to map fields to spot weeds in the crops. The AI technology can precisely spray the weeds and avoid the crops.
Equipment is going green. OEMs have been increasing production on electric, zero-emission tractors over the last several years. Electric tractors offer the same functionality as a traditional machine with the added environmental benefit of reduced pollution.
There are several types of smart sensors that can benefit farmers when it comes to production and crop data collection. The information compiled from these sensors can be accessed from the computer and even mobile apps. Here are a few innovative sensors:
- Accelerometer Sensors: One of the most widely used, accelerometer sensors are primarily used on moving equipment to detect and predict maintenance. These sensors can identify variations in movement and vibration to deduce when maintenance is required or when a piece of equipment needs to be replaced.
- GPS Sensors: GPS sensors are perfect for keeping track of livestock. These sensors can also be used on equipment to advance field routing for auto-guided systems.
- Optical Sensors: Optical sensors use infrared light to determine how healthy the crop is. They are attached to the fertilizer applicator to ensure the right amount of fertilizer is applied to each plant, based on need.
- pH Sensors: Now farmers can monitor the pH levels of soil to better understand how to optimize a crop’s growth to yield more productive harvests. These sensors provide important information on soil conditions, including nutrient deficiencies and unwanted chemicals.
- Temperature Sensors: Temperature sensors can provide highly accurate temperature and humidity data, along with predictive temperature forecasts.
Nozzle Control Systems
Reduce the chances of under and over spraying with nozzle control systems. These smart devices provide flow-rate shut-off control for individual nozzles to generate a more accurate spray.
Telematics allow farmers to collect and manage information from their equipment remotely. This technology uses real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning so farmers can capture this data. Cell phone networks and satellite communication systems transfer the data directly to the user. Many agricultural equipment companies are developing telematics systems that provide machine utilization information, remote equipment diagnostics, and more, for a fee.
Geographic information system (GIS) mapping combines hardware, software, and satellite imagery to provide data on crop agriculture. GIS allows farmers to map current and future changes in precipitations, temperature, crop yields, plant health, and much more. Farmers can then adapt to these variables and maximize production. There are many free sources for GIS data, along with companies who sell these maps to consumers.
The expansion of what is referred to as “Internet of Things” (IoT) technology is allowing farmers to automate their ag equipment with many of these features. Advancing smart farming can help the industry keep up with the growing consumer demand, while also collecting data to yield better crops. This innovative ag technology transforms machines into intelligent in-field devices that work for farmers instead of the other way around.