Articles, Blog

How Robots Will Shape Agriculture’s Future—Yield of Dreams

August 10, 2019

I’ve been involved in farming all my life. I grew up on a farm. I continue to be involved in farming, as well as doing research on Ag technology for the last thirty years. We can feed the planet if we develop the technology and policies to do it. And I think that precision agriculture and
the tools it offers us will be an important part of that solution. Precision agriculture is using electronic
information technology to do a better job of managing all kinds of agriculture. Robotics are one of the next stages of precision agriculture. This has happened most clearly with robotic milking. Jones robotic dairy farm was the first robotic dairy in Indiana and the 10th in the United States. In the past, dairy farming was milking cows usually twice a day with human labor. Some cows want to be milked four times a day. No dairy farm that I know of milks four times a day. But, with robotics you can do that. When the cow approaches the milking robot, it reads it’s identity chip. Then, the robot cleans and stimulates the
udder. It attaches the milkers to the teats. A sensor determines when it’s milked out
and it will remove the milkers. When this is all finished, the cow is released and it goes it’s way. It has benefits for the cows because with
robotic milking the cows decided when to be milked. It benefits the farmer. The role of the farmer becomes much more of the manager, of analyzing data, of paying attention to specific problems. Precision agriculture in the future will be just agriculture. It is a way that we will feed the 10 billion
people we expect to have on the planet while protecting the environment for future generations. To learn more about precision agriculture,
please read my Pew Trend article entitled, “Yield of Dreams.”

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