As humanity changes and technology advances, one thing remains constant throughout human history. People need to eat, and the future of farming requires innovation to maintain sustainable food production levels. Additionally, with 19.81 percent of the global population working in the agricultural sector and the planet’s total population continuing to grow, food production must increase.
Enter the agBOT Challenge, mixing technological efforts in software, robotics and communication to address agriculture’s current and future obstacles. Some of the specific efforts focus on increased internet efficiency in rural areas and use of unmanned equipment to do daily tasks such as seeding, harvesting, watering, etc.
All of this is also planned to be more eco-friendly by reducing carbon emissions and erosion as well as limiting chemical and fossil fuel usage.
For the 2017 Challenge, agBOT teams compete in different categories to come up with technology specifically for seeding/planting and weeding/feeding. The first place winners of the 2016 Challenge came from Saskatchewan, Canada’s University of Regina with an autonomous tractor. The tractor successfully planted several rows of seeds without human control of any kind and with an accuracy that surprised all in attendance.
This competition is not the first attempt at utilizing robotics and more advanced technology. Twin Brook Creamery has used a robotic milking system on their dairy farm for years.
Many fear that as a result of this, there will be a diminishing need for human labor that could lead to fewer agricultural jobs. In impoverished areas, however, these technologies would more beneficially function in assistance with human activity to maintain and direct robotic technology, doubling as a path for increased food production in hunger-stricken areas as well as a means for areas with less technological innovations to catch up to the rest of the world.
In the United States, agricultural jobs are already on the decline even without robotic replacement, as higher and higher numbers seek white-collar employment. Robots may then become a necessity to fill the void in developed nations left by diminishing agricultural workers.
The agBOT technology is the future of farming and will only continue to grow more efficient with each passing year. The benefits that agBOTs could provide to the worlds’ hungry may be a fundamental step in eradicating world hunger.
– Aaron Walsh