Self-driving tractors on their way to farms

September 15, 2016 Tom Connon

Future Tech Ag Edition: Plus, how drones can improve crop yields. 

This week we're looking at how tech and innovation are changing our farming practices and getting food on the table. These stories show a fascinating look at leaps ahead in the way tomorrow's farmers will work the land, connect with urban populations and use drones to monitor their crops.

Autonomous Tractors to Takeover Farming

driverless tractor by case

"The day when tractors drive themselves on farm fields across North America feels a little bit closer than it did yesterday.

case driverless tractor"CNH Industrial — the parent company of Case IH and New Holland — became the first of the big tractor manufacturers to publicly unveil its own autonomous unit ...

"An autonomous tractor like this could seamlessly integrate into an existing farm machinery fleet, with minimal operational changes ... Multiple autonomous vehicles could be put to work in one field or separate fields, on the same tasks or consecutive ones. It could allow a person working with no employees to operate multiple tractors, or could complement very large operations that have challenges finding ample skilled workers.” - Real Agriculture

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Elon Musk's Brother Starts Urban Farming Company

Squre Roots urban farming

"Announcing Square Roots. An urban farming accelerator that will empower 1,000’s of millennials to become #realfood entrepreneurs.

"Strong communities are built around local, real food. Food we trust to nourish our bodies, the farmer and planet. This is #realfood. ...

"Square Roots is an urban farming accelerator — empowering 1,000’s of millennials to join the real food revolution. Our goal is to enable a whole new generation of real food entrepreneurs, ready to build thriving, responsible businesses. The opportunities in front of them will be endless.

"Square Roots creates campuses of climate-controlled, indoor, hydroponic vertical farms, right in the hearts of our biggest cities. On these campuses, we train young entrepreneurs to grow non-GMO, fresh, tasty, real food all year round, and sell locally. And we coach them to create forward-thinking companies that — like The Kitchen — strengthen communities by bringing local, real food to everyone." - Medium

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The Real Advantages of Using Drones on Farm Fields

drones farming agriculture

"When I hear the word 'drone', the first thing I think of is a top-secret mission: spying, rescues, clandestine deliveries, and other James Bond-worthy uses of a seemingly mysterious technology. Maybe I've just seen too many movies, because in reality drones are now being used for practical, non-top-secret purposes across various industries. Agricultural drones in particular are becoming such an integral tool for farmers and food producers that it’s likely they helped get at least one of your meals on the table today. ...

"Imagine a farm 4 miles wide by 40 miles long: 160 square miles of crops that need to be planted, irrigated, fertilized, monitored, and harvested. Of all these tasks, monitoring could be considered the most important: if a section of crops is battling pest infestation or poor irrigation, the issue needs to be identified and addressed before it spreads.

"The good old-fashioned crop monitoring method was simple: walk through the fields and look at the plants. But for 160 square miles (not to mention much larger areas), this would take a while. ...

"Drones give farmers a new perspective thanks to their low-altitude view; they fly from a few meters above the ground up to 120 meters, which is the regulatory altitude for unmanned aircraft operating without clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration.

"From this altitude range, drone cameras can take multispectral images, using visible light (VIS) and near-infrared (NIR) light to identify which plants reflect different amounts of green light and NIR light. Together, these are used to produce multi-spectral images that can highlight healthy and distressed plants. Multiple images of the same area over time can be combined to create a time-series animation, which shows large-scale changes in crops and opportunities for better crop management." - Singularity Hub

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See more IT & Tech innovation stories and let us know the interesting technology stories you come across.

About the Author

Tom is a previous small business owner/operator and now has over 17 years of telecom experience. As a Portfolio Manager he specializes in product/service development, managing technical workforces and Customer/Segment Marketing. Outside of the office, Tom can be found shuttling his kids around from Lacrosse, hockey and ringette practices at a rink near you.

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