To get an idea for just how automated farming has become in the United States, take a look at the cotton farm used to make Planet Money’s T-shirt. Thirteen workers (using 26 machines) on one farm produced enough cotton in one year to make 9.4 million T-shirts.
The Rowbot, which is 2-feet wide and 7-feet long, is designed to apply nitrogen fertilizer with a lot more precision. Inside it are real-time sensors that are studying the plants and making find-tuned adjustments to how much fertilizer is applied to each plant, says Cavender-Bares.
The “go to here” feature has proven to be very beneficial for the farmers. Users can instruct the tractor to go to a spot in the field that they deem most convenient in relation to the combine’s path, instead of having the system follow the combine through the field. This helps increase efficiency and saves time because the farmer can gauge when they will need to unload next and make sure the tractor is there waiting for them.
Drones, drones, drones
Imagery will be tailored to wavelengths that will illuminate specific species of weeds. Problematic weeds in one field can be mapped, and sprayers can focus on just where the problem is versus a blanket application of the field. Less herbicide, less expense.
Robotic field inspector
Packed with sensors and electronics as well as a 3D laser scanner, BoniRob can recognise gaps between rows and move without damaging plants.“BoniRob can create a ‘fingerprint’ of every single plant,” says Prof. Ruckelshausen. “Afterwards it can find the location of a certain plant and measure its features again. We can document the growth process of every plant in that way.”