How Are Robotics Changing Agriculture?

There are a number of reasons why we associate life on the farm with hard work. Independent farmers and the people they employ have some of the most demanding and time consuming jobs. Though we often think of robots changing the manufacturing floor, operating room, and even retail spaces, they’re also making things a little more automated on farms throughout the United States. The results mean greater yield in less time, fewer demands on individual farmers, and maybe even more natural crops.

On the farm, robotics mean more leisure, fewer workers | Argus Leader

cowImage Source: Argus Leader

Former state Agriculture Secretary Walt Bones says his father once employed 45 people full and part time on their operation northeast of Parker. ‘Now we’re farming more acres and have more cattle, and we’re doing it with eight people,’ Bones said. ‘It’s bigger tractors. It’s auto-steering and GPS mapping. We have all these sensors now on the combines and tractors.’ […] The technology revolution that has made [Dairy Farmer, Stuart] Plucker’s life simpler means less labor to help milk his cows as well. In the larger scheme, it means production agriculture has been able to move out of chemistry into biology — relying less on herbicides and pesticides to protect plants because genetic engineering has built that resistance right into the makeup of the seeds.

As with any case in which automation is being used to do jobs once done by people, there are concerns with how fewer human employment opportunities will have a local impact. However, the widespread benefits are becoming increasingly clear.

Has the increasing use of robotics and automated machinery in agriculture had an effect on your industry? What are your thoughts on the prevalence of such technology in this sector? Tell us what you think in the comments.