Agriculture is no stranger to revolutions. In the 1950s, the Green Revolution sparked widespread use of pesticides, herbicides, and fossil fuel-based fertilizers; all novel techniques at the time. In 1995, a milking robot was introduced to the dairy farming market, only to become a staple of dairy farms everywhere not three decades later.
Now, with global labor shortages an imminent threat to the agricultural industries, farmers and agricultural technology companies are turning to driverless tractors; the latest in a growing trend toward smart technology in farming.
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What Are Self-Driving Tractors?
With the advent of GPS technology, tractors started being programmed to steer themselves, freeing up farmers to focus on the higher-value tasks instead of steering, such as ensuring seeds are planted accurately and precisely behind the rolling tractor, or ensuring the 30 foot long plow was tilling properly behind the tractor. Thus, the driverless tractor was born.
Driverless tractors have since developed into sophisticated pieces of farming and technological equipment, which can carry out almost all of the functions of a typical field farmer autonomously, thanks to the several lasers, cameras, and sensors mounted on it.
Changing the Face of Automatic Farming
A driverless or autonomous tractor offers huge potential for re-imagining the face of farming, and making agriculture more automated than ever before. With vital functions of the farmer essentially being outsourced to these driverless vehicles and their sophisticated sensor sidekicks, which are all intimately connected through the Internet of Things (IoT), the global food system as well as individual farmers stand to gain a lot; both in terms of productivity and productivity.
- Lower costs of production
- More precise inputs and boosted productivity
- More efficient use of farmer time
- A tireless “workforce”
- Reduced pressure to find new entrants to the agricultural workforce
The Future of Automatic Farming
Driverless or Autonomous Farm Equipment have come a very long way in the last 5-10 years. With agricultural heavyweights like John Deere throwing their weight behind innovations in autonomous agricultural equipment such as driverless tractors, and the growing market for smart precision agriculture devices, farms will continue to get more and more automated. We are on the path to a fully hands-free agricultural operation, even if it currently remains a ways off in the future.