Robots have more responsibility at Church Brothers Farms in Gonzalez, California.
From the beginning of the spring, rows of lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower are planted, sought, collected on a thousand acre farm, partly by humans, using more and more machines.
The goods are then packaged, delivered to major grocery chains and restaurants. You’ve probably seen their products in the frozen food corridor under the Green Giant brand at Walmart, Target or virtually all other major supermarkets.
But what you probably haven’t seen is how much more autonomous vehicles and drones work on the farm, as the minimum wage in California has risen by $ 1 this year to $ 15 an hour for larger Golden State employers. dollars until 2022. ,
“In the past, labor was relatively cheap compared to technology. Today the price of labor has risen. Thus, technology and labor costs are much closer, ”said Brush Ruiz, Vice President of Agriculture at Church Brothers Farms, which employs 60 full-time workers. He heads the company’s innovation department, which incorporates other companies’ equipment and toys with built-in farming contracts. “Although I would like everyone who works for me to be paid $ 100, the problem is that our consumers are not ready to pay that price for food,” he said.
It’s not just California և Church Brothers is by far the only high-tech economy.
Labor costs, climate change աճ growing food demand are beginning the era of machine modernization throughout the agricultural landscape. The situation has prompted Church Brothers to invest in several autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in recent years. The company has even spent $ 1 million to create a broccoli-picking contrast that works, but requires more investment, Ruiz said.
Advocates of robotic agriculture have stepped up automation as a step towards improving efficiency while freeing people from the monotonous, breakthrough tasks that few workers want to accomplish. Trade unions welcome more cars as far as farmers are concerned.
“Technological changes can be beneficial. “We do not want to hinder the production of a product that puts the (human) body less taxed,” said Baldemar Velazquez, chairman of the Farm Farm Organization Committee, Midwest’s North Carolina Agricultural Workers’ Union. “But agriculture is like any other job. “As soon as automation starts happening, it creates a problem for job opportunities.”
Automation has been taking over the work that people have to do on a farm for decades. Now machines are milking cows, taking out vegetables, packing goods faster and cheaper than people can. But now, in the age of artificial intelligence, robots and computer vision allow mechanisms to do more.
Unmanned aerial vehicles provide vast information on crop health. Robotic lenses can enlarge seedlings to predict when they will ripen to harvest vegetables. Autonomous vehicles can turn around and get rid of weeds without human intervention.
Many small farms operate with a narrow profit margin, unable or unwilling to invest in the latest tools. However, those who can afford to welcome the shift have more options than ever before, as AgTech startups build AI-enabled systems for full-scale farm invasion.
Seattle-based Carbon Robotics has recently launched a new weed control robot that runs autonomously in the fields to target unwanted plants. Unlike other automated weeds on the market that use targeted pesticides or soil weeds to attack weeds from the root, the latter machine uses high-energy lasers to kill pests without damaging the ground.
“We’re quite proud of the fact that we do not tear the topsoil,” said Paul Mikesel, co-founder and CEO of Carbon Robotics, the maker of Autonomous Weeder.
Other firms take different approaches to automating on-farm tasks. This year, Tevel Aerobotics Technologies introduced a flying autonomous robot that uses artificial intelligence to detect ripe fruit and harvest it all day. Heavy industry heavyweight John on Deir invests in autonomy և AI to place his tractors on the ground thousands of times in a matter of seconds at the same distance և at the perfect individual seed. Start-ups like Bear Flag Robotics are working to bring computer vision to the market for tried and tested tractors.
This is happening at a time when drones are also becoming more common, allowing businesses to supervise plants and animals.
Everything contributes to the exact name of agriculture, where farmers use less to grow more or adopt new equipment to increase crop production while reducing waste. The industry is growing in popularity. The market for advanced agricultural implements was estimated at about $ 7 billion by 2020, and is projected to reach $ 12.8 billion over the next four years, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.
Part of the projected growth comes from farms that want to be more productive in the face of labor problems. By 2029, the number of people working as farmers, ranchers and other agricultural professionals is expected to decrease by 6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Industry in the United States has already seen decades of job losses, even as agricultural output grew to feed a growing population.
Government investment is expected to help create smarter devices on farms, analysts say. And not just in the United States.
In October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $ 14.6 million Development Fund for Innovation Facilities to support farmers. Earlier this year, the European Union launched a $ 9.4 million program to replace insecure, labor-intensive problems in Spain, Greece, France and the Netherlands. The European Agency also plans to upgrade older agricultural equipment with autonomous systems to reduce costs.
This is the type that Bear Flag Robotics specializes in. For the past four years, California-based Sunnyvale has been working on its own set of AI cameras, GPS-powered systems designed to equip conventional tractors. It raised $ 7.9 million in funding to bring more technology to the tractors.
The company buys 15-foot-tall vehicles from dealers, adapts them to navigation systems, and allows manufacturers to rent them.
The company is working with farmers to create a boundary map of the area that needs work. Its algorithm plots the further path of the tractor, և the equipment uses that pattern to cross the field. Agricultural works pay for one hectare for their use.
Shares real-time video updates with Farmer who can steer և steer the car if something goes wrong.
Church Brothers Farms is a customer, although it is illegal in California to transport tractors without a safety driver, so they instruct the employee to be on board.
“One day an autonomous tractor could allow me to work at night with one person driving five tractors, as opposed to five drivers who do not want to work at midnight,” Ruiz said.
The farm is also home to FarmWise և Naio Technologies weed killers, which use computer vision to harvest crops. Smart weed is AgTech’s crowded field, և companies take different approaches to completing the task.
San Francisco-based FarmWise scans and harvests invasive weeds around the crop. Nayon, who lives in France, uses a variety of brushes, tools to scrape, choke or pull weeds to kill them.
Growers are interested in robots because hand weed is physically taxed, expensive and time consuming for humans. On the other hand, robots can do the job over and over again. And they do not cut corners if they get tired.
“Cars do not know it is five o’clock on Friday. “They can just keep running and get the job done, no matter what the clock says.” “They are programmable, sometimes they do a better job because they work at the right speed.”
True, AI farms may one day be able to perform most of the tasks required of humans today. But for now, in some places, people have legs, for example, dealing with delicate objects. Robots are prone to agility problems, which can lead them to aggressively hold items such as fruits and vegetables.
“You don’t go to the grocery store, you go to an apple that is completely bruised and brown,” said Velasquez of the Farm Organizing Committee. “So some things will continue to be demanded by human hands.”