Robots on the Farm

Science fiction is quickly becoming fact in the agricultural world. Today, many farmers and agribusinesses are looking toward the future and at autonomous farming machinery or “robots” to help enhance efficiency, decrease workload and increase productivity.

While using technology at the farm is nothing new, some companies are beginning to push the envelope. For example, Jaybridge Robotics and Kinze Manufacturing recently partnered to create a robot drone tractor, which uses guidance-communication systems to allow a tractor to function without an operator.

Farmers are already using global positioning systems to guide tractors and combines, but that technology still requires an operator. By removing the operator from the equation, Jaybridge and Kinze hope their “robot” tractor will solve a persistent problem for many farmers — finding skilled, reliable labor.

“You put in such long hours at harvest and if you have one less person that’s needed, or you still have the same number of people helping but they can relieve somebody else a little bit during the day, it would make it much nicer,” said Jason Ochs, a Kansas farmer during a KVNO radio report.

With autonomous farm machinery, a farmer could theoretically plant and harvest 24-hours a day — a feature that would enable farmers to be particularly productive during periods of good weather.

Employing robots and other autonomous machinery could also free farmers to focus on managing their business or even having rare downtime with their families.

“Just this past Christmas we had a customer that had just started two of our robotic milkers with their herds,” said Mark Futcher, a product manager with milking machine manufacturer DeLaval in a Kansas City Star article. “That Christmas morning was the first time that gentleman had ever been witness to his children finding their Christmas stockings.”

What do you think about robots helping out around the farm? Would you use robot technology to reduce your workload?

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