Small robotic applications in agriculture
In many manufacturing sectors, there is the emphasis on size with many viewing bigger machines as better placed when it comes to performing tasks. Big machines can move more earth, carry bigger loads, and pack heavier loads especially in the factory setup. Take the example of an arable farm. Even in these modern times, many people still use the traditional methods of farming. They rely on the innovation that largely remains focused on ‘traditional’ machinery, which are a tractor and a combine harvester. This analogue kind of farming depletes the soils and the nutrients needed for better yields.
This kind of farming renders farming less profitable as compared to other industries. Revenue streams and yields have stagnated for close to a quarter of a century affecting the profit margins, while at the same time production costs steadily keep going up. Farming is presently under threat, since it takes much more than farming to keep farms alive. Since the introduction of agriculture robots, things changed and now the industry can compete on the same level with other large industries such as the automobile or marine industries.
Small industrial robots in the agriculture industry
The agriculture industry is one of the many industries in that has embraced the use of small industrial robots in the last couple of years. The small robots have the capability of doing much more than the larger ones as they can reach every part of the farm to carry out diverse tasks. A small industrial robot can manage the feeding of livestock, seeding or planting, weeding, irrigation, spraying, fertiliser application and cultivation. Small robots come in handy especially during the seasons when it is extremely hard for farmers to tend to their crops or livestock
Small machinery, in the form of robots can use more of the field. Smaller, lighter machines are more agile on the fields, reducing the damage caused to soils and crops. Small robots reduce soil compaction; further reducing on the chemicals, applied to correct this damage. Being small, the robots can work within fields of all types, shapes and sizes, while protecting hedgerows, which sustain crucial biodiversity on the fields.
Using micro-and small robots, farmers can collect vital data from fields and crops. Digitalization of farming practices increases the potential of increasing efficiencies. It gets easier to provide care to the fields, on a plant-to-plant basis and to know what needs more care, what kind of care and what is flourishing with the present crop husbandry. Digitalization also helps the farmers to know what parts of the farm more attention than the others do and much more.
It is safe to take the general talk that small industrial robots are cheaper than larger models, and it is for this reason that many robot-manufacturing firms such as Universal Robots are on the forefront of producing small industrial robots that are affordable, flexible and diverse to tackle the agriculture sector.
The best-known Universal Robots small industrial robot in the agriculture sector is the UR5, which helps farmers with the milking processes. The robot prepares the cows for milking by spraying the udders with disinfectant.
In New Zealand and Ireland, farmers use drones to look after their sheep over long tracts of land.
“The Clever Robots for Crops” funded by the European Union are making the harvesting of crops such as apples, grapes and pepper easy.
These and many more reduce the aspect of risk accrued to the farmers by buying into other expensive hardware schemes. These service-providers, such as Universal Robots provide both hardware and software service products to the farmers.
Robots are here to stay and they can only get better and maybe even smaller. Besides the agriculture sector, they continue to revolutionize very many other sectors across the globe. The next frontier in farming is to make our farm practices affordable while increasing our profitability, and ensuring sustainability. Any investment in small robotic technology and services is a step in the right direction.