The Agriculture industry in India has undergone a drastic change in the past few decades. From traditional farming methods to smart farming, we have come a long way. Technology has finally taken over the challenges of rural agriculture and is continuously coming up with advanced solutions to enhance productivity. The end objective is to help farmers produce high-yield crops to feed the ever-increasing population. To achieve this sustainable growth, technological developments, combined with artificial intelligence, have helped offer awesome gadgets in the shape of drones, moisture sensors, etc. One such example is agricultural robots. Let’s learn more about the meaning, different types of agricultural robots & their importance.
What is an Agricultural Robot?
Agricultural Robots, commonly known as Agribots or Agbots, serve as artificial intelligence sources in the agriculture industry. They assist farmers in improving productivity and reducing the dependency on manual field tasks.
Where is an Agricultural Robot used?
Agribots help to automate routine farming activities because of which repetitive tasks are completed in no time at all. These robots assist in performing several farm functions, some of which include:
- Harvesting – This is among the most common functions performed by an Agribot. These robots work with increased speed and accuracy to improve crop yield size and reduce wastage.
- Weed Control – Agbots help distinguish weeds from useful crops and remove them by causing artificial soil disturbances using laser technologies.
- Mowing – Agbots use smart sensors to determine plant density and cut farmlands with precision.
- Seeding – Agribots also act as seeder attachments, where they accurately predict the soil tendency and help in planting seeds at the right places.
- Spraying – Agbots help identify weeds and crops that require pesticides and fertilizers, thereby leading to a reduction in wastage of resources.
- Sorting and Packaging – Agbots assist in detecting, sorting and packing agricultural products.
- Livestock Monitoring – Agbots help in tracking livestock and navigating them through rugged terrains.
- Irrigation – Artificial intelligence assists in accessing water volumes and helps farmers use water in a controlled manner only on plants in need of water.
Why were Agricultural Robots Introduced?
Have you ever heard about the phrase ‘necessity is the mother of all inventions’? Just like any other invention, several factors contributed to the inception of Agricultural robots. Some of these factors are as listed below:
- According to a United Nations report, the world population will reach an astonishing 10 billion by the end of 2050. Therefore, it becomes crucial to increase food production levels to feed the ever-increasing population.
- The inspiration behind Agribots was to sustainably enhance farm productivity through advancements in precision farming while reducing the wastage of natural resources.
- Agribots help in the optimum utilization of land and water resources per square feet of land. Moreover, they help in the accurate analysis of crops and livestock to enhance farm yield quality.
Different Types of Agricultural Robots
Depending on their role, it is possible to classify Agricultural Robots into three main categories.
Crop harvesting is a repetitive, monotonous and physically taxing activity. Besides, it also requires a certain level of skill and delicate touch. Crop-harvesting robots use various robotic components that make them suitable for operating in scorching temperatures and less-than conducive surroundings. These robots use sophisticated computer vision and machine learning algorithms to handle crops’ fragile nature while avoiding unripe or diseased products. The leading manufacturers of crop-harvesting robots worldwide include Harvest Croo, Abundant Robotics and Harvest Automation (all US companies).
In agriculture, weed control is both important and challenging. Even in cases where farmers practise crop rotation, they still rely on the use of herbicides. However, with an increasing number of consumers becoming averse to chemically treated food, the use of herbicides is hardly a solution. In such cases, weed-management robots are an attractive option. These robots use advanced AI to help distinguish between crops and weeds. Industry-standard blades and finger weeders run along the base, pulling out unwanted weeds, thereby reducing the need for herbicides. The leading manufacturers of weeding robots globally include Naio Technologies (France) and Nexus Robotics (Nova Scotia).
Aerial Imagery Drones & Seed-Planting Drones
There is something in the air when it comes to agricultural imagery and seed planting. Aerial imagery helps farmers save a lot of time by providing them with a bird’s eye view of crops. This way, farmers can quickly assess the health of vegetation, insect issues and weed growth. Moreover, it allows them to determine the precise amounts of fertilizers and seeds needed in the fields.
Drones are increasingly gaining relevance in precision farming. They are self-charging, sophisticated pieces of machinery that use computer vision and data science to gather and process data relating to crop stress. Moreover, they help farmers identify areas of improvement. The leading manufacturers of aerial imaging and seed planting drones worldwide include American Robotics, UAV Systems International (US companies) and Taranis (Israel).
Overview, Leading Manufacturers and Prices in India
There is an unquestioned need for agricultural robots in India. Several data-oriented digital solutions have found their way to farmers in India, however, the use of robotics and automation-oriented solutions still remains at a nascent stage. Although with the growing popularity of robotics in agriculture, more and more industries are witnessing a high success rate in commercialising the concept of these transformative solutions. The prices of agricultural robots in India start from as low as Rs. 6,000. Some of the leading manufacturers of farm robots in India include Binary Robotics, Robo Technos, Nadaf Agro Industries, Hari Agro Industries and Shpine Technologies.
What are the Advantages of using Agricultural Robots?
The use of Agricultural robots offers several benefits to farmers in India, some of which are as follows:
- Decreased labour – All the major farming activities can be easily performed by agricultural robots, thus eliminating human efforts. As a result, farmers become more self-reliant as they do not have to depend on manual labour.
- Increased profits – Agbots are generally one-time investments, but costly. However, low operational costs and enhanced productivity ensure this investment is profitable in the long run.
- Saving Precious Resources – With accurate monitoring, Agbots ensure optimum utilization of resources like water, chemicals, etc. Moreover, they help reduce the wastage of resources and preserve them for future generations.
- Attracts Young Talent – Modern technology and Artificial Intelligence has been fascinating young minds for many years now. These advancements make sure that a growing number of young farmers practice agriculture as a source of livelihood. This inclination might even encourage the urban population to become a part of the agriculture industry someday.
- Maximum productivity – Agricultural robots help farmers in almost every aspect and help save their time and energy. Moreover, the accurate soil reports help farmers to understand the suitability of crops and maximise production while maintaining quality.
Drawbacks of Agricultural Robots
Despite the various benefits they offer, certain shortcomings of agricultural robots hamper their use significantly. Some of the drawbacks are as listed below.
- Costly – Agribots are machines that require a considerable investment, which make them an expensive affair for small and marginal farmers.
- Complex Operations – Agbots come equipped with the latest technological advancements, making them complex to use.
- Requires Technical Expertise – Agricultural robots need farmers to become skilled and proficient in handling modern technology, which hampers their ability to properly take care of their farmlands.
- Power Cuts – India is a country faced with regular power cuts, especially in rural areas. It renders agricultural robots useless because they cannot work without electricity, leading to unnecessary wastage of time.
Whether you decide to work with a reputable systems integrator or choose to handle the robotic systems yourself, knowing the different types of robots available and their costs and benefits can prove crucial in making an informed decision. We hope this effort on our behalf helped you learn about agricultural robots and their relevance in the farming industry.
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