I must say I am always intrigued by the possibilities that mechanization offers the farm sector.
We have particularly seen its impact recently in terms of precision farming, where new technology is allowing for ever more precise application of crop protection products and crop nutrients which both help create the best growing conditions possible and limit cost through wasted applications.
But, it is likely we are still barely on the edge of what new technology will bring to the farm.
A little social media wandering recently brought me to an article on a drone that will, it is suggested, plant 40,000 trees in a month, and it was suggested that will mean one billion trees by 2028 (www.fastcompany.com).
Whether the numbers are precise is not as important as the realization of the continued advancement of drone technology.
The potential of drones to precisely apply herbicides, perhaps down to a weed-to-weed basis, would be massive, especially for pedigree seed producers and those growing higher value crops such as vegetables.
The same social media outing took me to a story at www.businessinsider.com
The story was about a robot dog from Boston Dynamics’ herding sheep in New Zealand.
Having watched a few stock dog competitions, and recognizing the varied movements good stock dogs have to make, and adding in the natural pasture conditions of gopher holes, bushes, mole holes and stones, I don’t expect the border collie union is sweating their jobs just yet.
That said for a four-legged robot to have advanced to the point of going into the field is pretty amazing. Clearly the world of robotics is advancing rapidly.
What that will mean for farming is at present potentially as diverse as developers and producers can dream.
Farmers have always been rather proficient at going into their shops when faced with a farm problem and hammering out a solution with some new implement or attachment.
While farmers might not have a shop where they can build the next generation of farm robot, they are capable of envisioning a use for robotic tech that can then be developed by others.
The potential of robotic and drone technology is going to move farming in new directions, helping deal with current issues, and of course creating some new ones. Robots and drones require operators who know what they are doing. Those are skills workers will expect to be well-paid for, and farmers will need to compete for those workers.
Still, the farm sector has always been one which adopts new technology rather quickly, and that makes it an exciting time for producers watching what may emerge next.
Calvin Daniels is Editor with Yorkton This Week.