Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Robotic technology is revolutionising farming

By Mark Ross

From weeding and spraying crops to taking care of cattle, digital technology is making its mark on agriculture.

Self-driven vehicles are picking and grading fruit as well as detecting and pollinating flowers. Now the latest technology involves detecting and managing disease - helping farmers to become more productive and sustainable. Modern agricultural machines take away some of the more time-consuming tasks and help to protect crops from disease with exact doses and targeted applications of products.

In the last decade, there has been an unprecedented growth in precision farming - with about 80 percent of new farm equipment using it. This advanced digital precision technology can help farmers to use land efficiently and maximise harvests while reducing costs and workloads.

Robotic technology makes it possible to detect the precise location of weeds or disease and spray only the affected area. That means lower costs, lower environmental impact and a more abundant harvest.

Farmers using advanced digital precision technology report reducing herbicide use by 10 percent and diesel by 20 percent.

Thanks to digital connectivity, smart farm equipment can provide farmers with field-specific information from cloud-based farm management software. Sensors collect data from a distance to evaluate soil and crop health and identify the presence of pests or diseases.

Agricultural drone technology has been improving in the last few years. Drones allow farmers to constantly monitor crop and livestock conditions – often more reliably than manual inspections.

Drones mainly capture images and provide data, but they also monitor crops from planting to harvest - helping farmers to react faster to threats such as weeds, insects and fungi. This data is processed and translated into information on plant health and pest infestations. Data can then be entered into smart machinery to adjust the amount pesticide used for a field. This saves time and improves the application of variable input rates in real-time.

Drones can also be used to apply pesticides. Aerial spraying in Japan and China is done by drones. In Europe, they are used to distribute biological agents like wasp eggs.

The potential for drones is sky-high. Water-resistant drones can monitor any type of crop, in any geographical area, in any weather. They can also get higher quality and more precise images in real-time as they fly below the clouds and have high photo resolution — far superior to satellites, which only take pictures once a week or month and don’t work well when it’s cloudy.

The use of agricultural drones will grow significantly in the coming years as they offer a wide range of applications that improve precision farming. They can potentially replace the human application of pesticides, minimising farmer exposure.

That’s some high-flying technology that will hopefully be available in New Zealand sometime soon.

• Mark Ross is chief executive of Agcarm, the industry association for companies which manufacture and distribute crop protection and animal health products.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Maritime Union: Deepening Supply Chain Crisis Requires Action

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says the global COVID-19 pandemic exposed pre-existing weaknesses in our logistics sector, and created enormous problems... More>>



Air New Zealand: Employees Recognised With $1,000 Share Award

The efforts Air New Zealand employees made during one of the airline’s toughest years will be recognised via an award of $1,000 worth of company shares to all permanent employees... More>>

Consumer NZ: Bank Complaints On The Rise, Survey Shows

Nearly one in five Kiwis had a problem with their bank in the past year, Consumer NZ’s latest satisfaction survey finds. Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said the number of bank customers reporting problems had jumped to 18%, up from 11% in 2020... More>>

Mercury: Enters Into Binding Agreements To Acquire Trustpower’s Retail Business

Mercury NZ Limited (Mercury) has announced that it has entered into binding agreements with Trustpower Limited (Trustpower, NZX:TPW) to acquire Trustpower’s retail business for NZ$441 million... More>>

ALSO:


ASB: New Zealanders Missing Out On Hundreds Of Millions In KiwiSaver Government Contributions

New Zealanders have just over a week to ensure they’re eligible for the maximum annual government KiwiSaver contribution... More>>


Stats NZ: GDP Climbs 1.6 Percent In March 2021 Quarter Following December Dip

Gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 1.6 percent in the March 2021 quarter, following a 1.0 percent fall in the December 2020 quarter, Stats NZ said today. "After an easing of economic activity in the December quarter, we’ve seen broad-based growth in the first quarter of 2021... More>>