Like many other industries, the agricultural industry is also going digital and using new technologies to improve the way tasks are completed. Over the past couple of decades, new technologies have come along that have made life easier for farmers and those working with farmers in the agricultural industry. New technologies have resulted in improvements in precision, safety, yield, and sustainability. Tasks that used to be labour intensive can now be completed remotely with ease, and data that previously required someone to manually take samples and tests can now be completed remotely. As the owner and tech expert behind Ag Tech and Machine in Shepparton, Victoria, I’m here to tell you about some of the ways that technology has improved farming.
GPS autosteer was first developed in the late 90s to give farmers absolute control over the way their machinery is used in the field. A GPS guidance system for a tractor, harvester or other farm machinery uses a combination of GPS technology similar to what you use in your sat nav system, along with steering technology that sits within the tractor or other farm machinery. GPS Autosteer allows for precision mapping, planning, and steering, down to 2.5cm accuracy. With a GPS autosteer guidance system, farmers and agricultural contractors can accurately ensure that all areas of their farm are covered when planting, seeding, spraying, fertilising, and harvesting. When we work with farmers to install a new GPS autosteer guidance system, we see reductions in waste, input costs, fuel consumption, user error, and operator fatigue. In addition to all these benefits, we also see an improvement of crop yield, helping improve food security into the future.
Remote and robotic machinery:
It is amazing to think that a farmer could be spraying their crop while sitting inside at their computer. With some of the new agricultural technology being installed on farms across Australia, this is what we see. Robotic sprayers and other remotely operated machinery use is increasing among farmers in Australia. This technology allows for farmers to complete otherwise time consuming and labour-intensive tasks remotely. With huge labour shortages in Australia, this allows for farmers to get their jobs done without having to be out in the field.
Anyone who has worked in agriculture before or has experience growing food will tell you about the importance of getting the correct amount of fertiliser and spray onto the crop. They may also tell you about ensuring each plant or seed is placed the correct distance apart to maximise the amount of food you can produce from a limited space. An expert may also look at a plant to determine whether it needs more water or fertiliser to maximise the yield. Application control technology is an emerging group of products that can do all of this digitally. With an application control system, a farmer or agricultural contractor can use technology to control the amount of seed, plants, fertiliser and spray that goes out into the field. This technology also uses data to ensure precisely the right amount of seed, fertiliser, and spray goes to each area of the field. The benefits of this technology are huge. Not only can farmers see improvements in yield, they also see reductions in waste, input costs, and fuel consumption. This technology is helping farmers to be more sustainable and produce more food from limited land.
Data driven farming is also on the increase. Data can be collected remotely, from drones, GPS, and ag tech systems, and that data is used to improve the way that farms are run. When previously, farmers and their agronomists would need to walk out into the field and collect data, or pay for expensive farm surveying, much of this data can now be collected remotely. In addition, far more data is available now than ever before. Precise data about water consumption, crop health, and yield are now being collected on farms across Australia, and this data is driving improvements in the sustainability of farms, and helping to increase crop yields.
Farming in Australia can be challenging when it comes to water. Droughts are common, and we also often see floods and enormous downpours of rain. Both drought and rain can be detrimental to farmers growing food in Australia. Once again, technology can be used to improve this for farmers. With limited water supply during droughts and times of lower rainfall, watering the crop is essential, and it is essential to get the most out of the limited water supply farmers have available to them. New technology is helping farmers to improve water efficiency. This can be done through land forming to ensure that water is used most efficiently, through surveying the land and planning water usage around this, and through analysing data from crops about where water is needed most. Technology can also assist with drainage management, which is absolutely necessary to maintain crop health in times of extended or heavy rain.
Australia is leading the way:
In the early days of precision agricultural technologies, Australia relied on technology coming out of the US and Europe. Today, Australia creates its own technologies, and some of these are manufactured right here in Australia. Farmers and agricultural businesses can now purchase Australian GPS autosteer systems, Application control systems, accessories, machinery and more. Given that much of Australia’s land is not currently suitable for growing food, it is vital that we use our existing agricultural land to the maximum efficiency to feed our growing population. New agricultural technology is helping farmers to do this and helping our food security and sustainability into the future.
As the owner and tech expert at Ag Tech and Machine, I enjoy helping farmers to create more sustainable futures for their farms and businesses and enjoy researching and learning about new technologies as they emerge and become available to Australian farmers. Technology is unlocking new opportunities for Australian farmers and improving the way that food is grown. I am excited to be part of that future.
James Rovers it the owner and founder of Ag Tech and Machine. Ag Tech and Machine is the leading independent supplier of products and services to the agricultural and civil industries. James works with farmers and agricultural service providers to bring new technologies to Australian farms. Check out Ag Tech and Machine’s website to see the services and products James and his team can offer.